Wren Kauffman, 11, and his family are embarking on a unique journey — he's living fully as a boy, and coming out in public, after being born as a girl with the name Wrenna.
Wren is attending grade seven this year at the Victoria School of the Arts in Edmonton and his transition is known to his teachers, most of his classmates and friends.
"I never really felt like a girl," Wren told Anna-Maria Tremonte on The Current. "I think now, I’m much happier as a boy …. I remember I just like really being a boy in playing with [my sister] Avy. I always wanted to cut my hair short like some of my guy friends."
Wren’s mother, Wen, says it became a lot clearer when Wren was four-years-old and would "express who he was" by always heading to the boy’s section when shopping for clothes.
"She would always ask, 'When do I get to be a boy'?"
Wen resorted to buying less gender-obvious clothes online from the U.S., so her child wouldn’t be teased at school for wearing clothes that most of the boys at school were also wearing.
"We just thought, ‘that’s the way he is,’" said Wen. "But we weren’t sure what life would be like for him and living in our community. We know of the stories of adults who are transgendered and it’s stories of alienation, and it's really sad."
'He really is a boy'
The key moment came, two years ago, when Avy told her parents, "Wren wants to be a boy. He really wants to be boy. He really is a boy."
'I love you. I love Wren. I don't care if you're a boy or a girl.' —Wen Kauffman
That’s when his parents decided to talk to Wren about the transition. Wen recalls going to her child and saying: "I love you. I love Wren. I don’t care if you’re a boy or a girl."
The family decided to seek help at the University of Alberta’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services in Edmonton.
They were also sent to a psychiatrist who dealt with gender issues.
In the end, the psychiatrist told the family to follow Wren’s lead — which meant he would begin taking hormone pills to suppress puberty. Eventually, Wren may decide to have sexual reassignment surgery when he becomes an adult at 18.
In fact, Wren has been going to school as a boy, since grade five. In that school, the teachers were first told and then the parents, who were tasked with speaking with their children about Wren's transition.
This September, Wren headed back to the Victoria School of the Arts for a second year. The difference is, the family has gone public about their child's transition.
"I’m not getting teased. I think everyone understands," said Wren. "If someone doesn’t know and if it comes up, I’ll tell them. I don’t feel any shame in that."
Meanwhile, Wren says he dreams of becoming either a photographer or "maybe a child psychologist for people like me."
Wren’s advice to other children who feel they are another sex is to talk to their parents.
"Tell your parents. They may not be the most understanding at times, but they love you in the end, and everything’s going to be OK."