Parents Louise and Nikki Draven have told how they are raising Britain's first gender-fluid family, bringing their four-year-old child up as neither a boy or a girl.

Star's mum is Louise, who was born a man but is in transition to become a woman through hormone treatment. Nikki is the child's dad, born a woman but who dresses in either a 'masculine' or 'feminine' way depending on the day.

Mum Louise is actually Star's biological father, while Nikki - who Star calls 'Daddy' - is his birth mother.

Nikki, 30, says: "Neither of us gets hung up on the gender we were born as.

"We don't want our child constrained by that either. We're just an ordinary family being who we want to be."

Credit: 'J Photographers North East Ltd

Star begins school in September and will wear a boy's uniform - but with pink vest and socks that he has chosen for the occasion.

The youngster says that he will grow up to be either a boy or a girl.

Former pub bouncer Nikki says: "We want to give him the confidence to be who he wants - growing up, we didn't have that.

"We never tell Star he's a boy, we tell him he can be whatever he wants. We don't buy gender specific toys or clothes and we let him choose what he wears. Pink is one of his favourite colours.

"He loves wearing leggings and, because of his name, he loves clothes with star patterns on.

"He loves Barbie dolls, dressing up and fairies - but he also likes toys considered as boys', such as cars.

"We use the words 'he' and 'him' but don't make any kind of big deal out of him being one sex or the other."

Nikki says Star 'chose' which of his parents would be which by saying his first word, 'Da-da', and allowing her to lift him out of his cot rather than Louise.

Credit: Jacqui Deevoy Media

When Star plays on the floor at home in Middlesborough, he is surrounded by cars, pink teddy bears and dolls

His long-dark hair falls down his back and he wears pink dotty socks, unisex jeans and braces.

The couple admit they draw stares. A fortnight ago a driver shouted abuse at Louise, telling her: "I'd cut my throat if I looked like you."

Nikki says: "It was worse when Star was small and Louise was first transitioning because people would point, stare and laugh.

"Sometimes they'd even follow us shouting insults. I'm not easily intimated because I was a bouncer in a gay bar, but Lou found it really upsetting."

Yet they do not let fear of bullying stop them encouraging their son to step outside the boundaries. Nikki admits: "Star is only in nursery but has already been put under pressure by other children. He came home the other day saying, 'I can't play with dolls - they're for girls'.

"We sat him down and explained that anyone can play with dolls and that it's good practice for when he grows up and is a daddy. He said, 'I might not be a daddy - I might be a mammy!

"When we decided to raise Star as gender fluid we talked about things like other children's attitudes.

"Of course we had doubts - what would other people say, what trouble could it cause, would our son be bullied?

"But then we realised children always find a reason to bully other kids.

"When one boy told him he looks like a girl, Star told them he looked like the comic book hero Aquaman."

Although it may be controversial, their child-rearing techniques are in line with advice from the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in London, a centre for psychological well-being, with a dedicated Gender Identity Development Service.

It recommends parents support younger children 'to safely explore their interests, allegiances and preferred activities, whilst keeping a range of options open to them'.

It adds they should keep 'an open mind about how a child's interests and identity might develop over time'.

Words: Jacqui Deevoy

Featured Image Credit: 'J Photographers North East Ltd/Jacqui Deevoy Media

James Dawson

James Dawson is a Trending Journalist at LADbible. He has contributed articles to LADbible’s ‘Knowing Me, Knowing EU’ series on the EU referendum, the 'Electoral Dysfunction' series on the 2017 general election, the ‘U OK M8?’ series tackling mental health amongst young men, and for its ‘Climate Change’ initiative in partnership with National Geographic.

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