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WATCH: What It's Like to Raise a Transgender Child

WATCH: What It's Like to Raise a Transgender Child


NBC News opens its series on transgender youth with a report on a charming 5-year-old.


A new star may have been born in 5-year-old Jacob Lemay, profiled on NBC Nightly News tonight as part of a series on transgender youth.

"Typical, energetic little boy. He loves to get his hands dirty," says mom Mimi Lemay.

His father, Joe, adds: "He's also born in a girl's body."

Jacob's parents are now raising the child they once considered a girl and named Mia as a boy. He started insisting he was male as early as age 2, and with the advice of a gender therapist, he has slowly transitioned to living full-time as male.

As his mother recalled in a letter to her son, published in the The Boston Globe, by age 5 he was able to voice his desire in unmistakable terms: "I want to go to a new school. I want to be a boy always. I want to be a boy named Jacob."

The Lemays helped their son transition last summer, and changed his haircut and clothing and even his school -- changes that are "technically reversible," says Kate Snow, national correspondent at NBC News.

"He is a ball of energy! Loves karate. A typical boy," Snow tells The Advocate. "I asked him what he's most proud about himself. He says 'I'm proud of being a boy, and transgender, and being different.'"

The topic has generated great interest from viewers; a preview on Facebook has been viewed more 4.4 million times as of this post.

Mark Joyella, veteran journalist and media writer for TVNewser, notes a significant number of viewers watched that six-minute segment online even before the broadcast. And he says insiders at NBC tell him this series has been in the works for months.

"Whatever the motivation -- the NBC series has clearly got people -- especially parents -- listening to these remarkable kids and thinking," Joyella said.

Snow confirms her series focusing on transgender youth had its genesis two to three months ago at a planning meeting.

"Honestly, it takes months to put together something like this. We spend a lot of time and resources while also doing day-of-air stories and other reports, like my piece on heroin a year ago, Oklahoma City last week, and autism earlier this month," she says.

Snow's report on Jacob will appear again on Today Wednesday morning. She spoke with Nightly News anchor Lester Holt prior to the broadcast about her series, and then joined a pediatrician on Nightly News's Facebook page to take questions from viewers.

"This is a topic we're devoting a lot of time to, and NBC News will continue to follow beyond this series," Snow says, noting that the new chairman of NBC News, Andy Lack, viewed the reports before they aired.

Wednesday night, Snow introduces viewers to 8-year-old Malisa Phillips, whose parents are on the verge of deciding about hormone blockers and other medical intervention for their child, who was assigned male at birth but identifies as female.

Snow's producer found Malisa through a tweet by her grandfather, Congressman Mike Honda, in which he discussed his hope for her to be safe and free from harassment. For the first time on national television, Honda speaks out about his family's experience.

Watch Kate Snow's report on Jacob Lemay, and a preview of Malisa's story, below:

When California Congressman Mike Honda tweeted a photo of himself smiling next to his 8-year-old granddaughter in February, it immediately went viral. "As the proud grandpa of a transgender grandchild," he wrote, "I hope she can feel safe at school without fear of being bullied." Now, in an emotional interview, Honda's daughter, Michelle, and her husband Travis talk about why they decided to allow their daughter Malisa to transition and live as a girl.NBC's Kate Snow will have more on transgender kids Wednesday night on #NBCNightlyNews.

Posted by NBC Nightly News on Tuesday, April 21, 2015
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