A New Jersey pastor and his wife have said they decided to let their young son transition from male to female because they believe it allows their child be "who God created her to be."
Chris Bruesehoff, a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and his wife Jamie recently told The Daily Mail that their son, Ben, is now their daughter, Rebekah. Now 10, Rebekah has been transitioning from a male to female since the age of two.
"Rebekah has always been gender non-conforming. As young as two or three she gravitated to typically feminine things," Jamie told the outlet. "By the time she was seven, all of this hit a crisis point - her anxiety was crippling and her depression was becoming life threatening."
"We were faced with a seven-year old kid who wanted to die. One time she punched out the screen of her second storey window and tried to jump out," she said.
Following the advice of their family doctor and counselor, the Bruesehoff family decided to allow their son to transition into a female.
"With the help of a gender specialist, Rebekah was able to peel back the layers, and that's when her family were able to discover that she wasn't a boy who liked pink - she was a girl," reads the Daily Mail report.
In July 2016, the Bruesehoffs went to court and legally changed their child's name from Ben to Rebekah. Jamie told the outlet that the next step will be puberty blockers, which will "prevent her from going through male puberty and stop her from developing male characteristics - like facial hair, a deeper voice and an Adam's apple."
"As far as surgery, she hasn't indicated a desire for that," Jamie said. "That is a decision she gets to make down the road. That's not something she'd do before she's 18."
Jamie now runs a blog called I Am Totally That Mom highlighting her family's journey with a transgender child.
She wrote: "We may not entirely understand the science around why people are born transgender or even what it all means for our daughter's future, but we know that God created each and every one of us in God's own image."
Jamie added, "God does not love our daughter in spite of her gender identity. God did not put her in the wrong body. This is who she has always been, who God created her to be, and like I've heard from so many who want to dispute transgender identities, God doesn't make mistakes."
However, she admitted that her family has received some backlash over their decision to allow their child to transition: "We haven't had anyone in our community or families say that we are pushing this on to her but we have had that through social media and my blog, that go as far to say that it is child abuse and we should have our children taken away," she said.
Transgender children and teens have been the focus of considerable media attention in recent years and have seen an increased visibility in film and television. Last year, transgender teenager Jazz Jennings starred in Microsoft's Christmas-themed ad, and National Geographic featured a 9-year-old transgender child on the cover of its January issue.
Statistics from the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) reveal that the number of children referred to "gender identity clinics" has quadrupled in the past five years. In 2016, 84 children aged between three and seven were referred to gender identity clinics, compared to just 20 in the year of 2012 to 2013.
Dr. Joanna Williams, author of Women vs Feminism, told the Telegraph that the results suggest that transgender issues are being "over-promoted" in schools.
"Children - encouraged by their experiences at school - are beginning to question their gender identity at ever younger ages," she said.
"In doing more than just supporting transgender children, and instead sowing confusion about gender identity, schools do neither boys nor girls any favors," Williams said, adding that recent changes to school policies could be forcing children to "unlearn" the difference between boys and girls.
In a recent op-ed, Michelle Cretella, M.D., president of the American College of Pediatricians, said transgender ideology has "infiltrated" her field, and is responsible for "large scale child abuse" for what it's teaching children and parents.
"Just a few short years ago, not many could have imagined a high-profile showdown over transgender men and women's access to single-sex bathrooms in North Carolina," she wrote in a commentary for The Daily Signal.
"But transgender ideology is not just infecting our laws. It is intruding into the lives of the most innocent among us - children - and with the apparent growing support of the professional medical community," she added.