A 12-year-old, who is one of Britain’s youngest transgender children, has started transitioning after realising she was born in the wrong body aged just three.
Though Ash Lammin was born male, her mum says she insisted that she was a girl as soon as she could speak.
Terri Lammin, 43, said it was “heartbreaking” watching her daughter, who was born Ashton, grow up confused and upset by her body.
“By age five, she was asking ‘when is someone going to chop my winky off?’, and questioning why she had it at all,” Terri explains.
According to her mum, Ash is the perfect example of a child who has been born in the wrong body.
Now, aged almost 13, the youngster is embarking on a lengthy journey to transition her gender from male to female at an NHS-run clinic, becoming one of the youngest children in the UK to do so.
Ash, who changed her name by deed poll to Ashley when she was eight, will start by taking hormone blockers to halt the onset of puberty.
It isn’t a decision the family have taken lightly, and Ash has researched the process incessantly. She eventually hopes to have a womb transplant so that she can be a mother when she’s older.
In response to critics who have accused Terri of taking drastic decisions on behalf of a child who is too young to know better, the mum points out that Ash will take the blockers until she is 18.
At that point, she herself will decide whether to go ahead with gender reassignment surgery.
If she decides not to go ahead with it, Ash will come off the blockers, and puberty will kick in just a few years later than her peers.
Her mum says she never thought Ash’s confusion about her gender was a phase, but at first she found it difficult to know how best to react.
“When she was three she said to me, ‘I’m a boy because you gave me a boy’s name - it’s your fault,’” Terri explains.
“I remember feeling horrible, because she blamed me.”
“I'd never come across it before and I just went along with it. I just thought 'if he's happy, well that's the main thing.’”
But life became much harder for the family when Ash started at primary school.
“I sent her to school in a boy’s uniform. I felt awful, she didn’t want to wear it and I was making her,” Terri explains.
“The school were great. The headmaster at the time said 'if you think it's going to make life easier then bring Ash in a girl's uniform', so I did.
"I was in a right state. I thought 'everybody is going to think I'm weird' - but Ash loved it.
“Before, when I was taking her into school, she was biting me and kicking me, she didn't want to go in.
“As soon as she put the girl's uniform on, she wanted to go every day.”
Despite the school’s willingness to help and the kindness of Ash’s classmates, Terri says that other parents weren’t so tolerant of the change, and would leave Ash out of social events and complain that Ash was using the girls’ toilets.
When Ash turned 11 and went to secondary school, she became a target for bullies who would throw things at her on the bus and shout ‘tranny’ at her - forcing Terri to take her out of the school after just one term.
Ash is now being home-schooled, and Terri is calling for better education within schools to teach children about transgender people.
She said: “I'd like to see the subject of transgender people included in some lessons, like there are about same-sex families.
“There needs to be more about liking people for who they are, not what they are.”
Unsurprisingly, the bullying has taken its toll on Ash mental health, with the youngster suffering from anxiety and her mum saying she has admitted to wanting to die.
“Some days she says ‘I’m so glad I’m me’, but other days she feels terrible. She asks why it has to happen to her and she hates herself,” Terri says.
Despite her struggles, her mum describes her daughter as “inspirational.”
“She could easily have said 'I'll just be a boy' but she feels so strongly about who she is she accepts the difficulties,” the mum continues.
“But it's a lot for a child to deal with.”
Ash says that though it has been difficult growing up as a trans girl, she says she feels that she is firmly on the right path.
“The journey is long and it’s still going, but I feel like the sense of victory is there through it all,” she says.
“I do feel accepted sometimes, but other times not.
“Not everyone is going to understand and people have to have their own opinions and I understand that. Some people might not like the idea of trans.
“I hope I inspire others but I just hope that love and acceptance comes through everything.”