Due to her son’s rare medical condition, a blind single mother raised him as a girl for thirteen years.
Thirteen-year-old Xiao Xing was born with a rare and unusual condition called perineal hypospadias, a birth defect that caused his scrotum to look like a vaginal opening.
“He was born at home and there were no doctors around. So when we couldn’t see his genitals, we thought my wife had given birth to a girl,” said his father Chen Shiming.
After Xiao Ying was born, Chen Shiming left the family home in Xinguan village to find work in the distant Chongqing city. His wife Wang Li stayed behind to take care of their son. But a year later, she lost her sight to glaucoma and continued to raise their son as her ‘daughter’.
A shocking discovery
Xiao Ying grew up wearing skirts, and everything seemed normal until in October 2010, when Wang Li was bathing her son and was shocked to discover something ‘odd’ in his crotch area. Chen rushed home and they sent their son to the local hospital, but doctors could not diagnose his condition with their limited rural resources.
Months later, Xiao Ying was sent to the children’s hospital at Chongqing Medical University when doctors were finally able to conduct tests and confirm that he was a boy!
Xiao Ying underwent three surgeries to correct his condition. Since starting “gender reassignment” therapy in 2012, the 13-year-old boy has shied away from society. “He’s even scared to go to the toilet. He doesn’t know which bathroom to use, the boys or the girls,” stated his mum.
Making a fresh start
Concerned that he would be subjected to teasing from other children, Xiao Ying’s parents put him in a new school in another town where he could start anew. But despite all of these measures, his mum says, “He’s still not happy.”
“He was very cheerful before this…. always playful and sociable, going out with his friends. But now he refuses to meet strangers and doesn’t talk as much as before.” His mum added that they would have to choose a new name for their son when they change his birth certificate. Dr Liu Junhong from Chongqing Medical University said that Xiao Ying needs one more operation, perhaps his last one, in the near future. Then he would be “just like other boys” and none of Xiao Ying’s genital functions would be affected.
Handling gender confusion
It is best not to jump to conclusions at first. Remember that children are naturally curious and may go through a stage of experimentation (such as a boy trying on high heels or lipstick). If the behaviour does persist for a long time it is best to consult a professional, such as a child psychologist or a counsellor.