Berkeley, California (CNN) — One of the first things Thomas Lobel told his parents was that they were wrong.
The 3-year-old had learned sign language because he had apraxia, a speech impediment that hindered his ability to talk. The toddler pointed to himself and signed, “I am a girl.”
“Oh look, he’s confused,” his parents said. Maybe he mixed up the signs for boy and girl. So they signed back. “No, no. Thomas is a boy.”
But the toddler shook his head. “I am a girl,” he signed back emphatically.
Regardless of the fact he was physically male, Thomas has always maintained that he is a girl. When teased at school about being quiet and liking dolls, Thomas would repeat his simple response, “I am a girl.”
Thomas, now 11, goes by the name of Tammy, wears dresses to school and lives as a girl.
Her parents have been accused by family, friends and others of being reckless, causing their youngest child permanent damage by allowing her to live as a girl.