By Nathalie Bonney @nathaliebonney

At the age of two, Lily Nichols tore the pink Easter bow out of her hair and, using the few words she knew, repeatedly told her mum Vanessa to, 'Take off'

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Videographer / director: Jordan Hicks
Producer: Nathalie Bonney, Ruby Coote
Editor: Sonia Estal

Since she was two, Lily has rejected anything seen as traditionally girly

From that moment on Vanessa, and then husband Dustin, from Venice, Florida realised their daughter was going to be different to other girls her age.

Vanessa said: “We bought her one baby doll and she never touched it. When she was three, an old neighbor of ours bought her a Barbie car.

Even as a toddler Lily didn't like dresses
Dressed in boys clothes, Lily feels much more comfortable

"She opened it, and then put it right back into the package and pushed it away. She said, ‘Thank you’ and was very gracious but the person that gave her the gift looked at me and said, ‘What did you do to make her like this?’

"That was the oddest question to me. Well, she is who she is because she likes what she likes.”

But, far from simply going through a tomboy phase, Lily has already talked about becoming a boy when she is older: changing her name and having surgery. Despite this, Vanessa says she is in no rush to put labels on her now seven-year-old daughter and hasn’t even introduced Lily to the word transgender.

Mum Vanessa won't rush Lily into transitioning
A rare photo of Lily as a baby in more 'girly' clothes

Vanessa said: “I haven’t mentioned the word transgender specifically because I don’t think it is a label that is necessary right now. Lily is aware it’s possible to take medicine, and in some cases have surgery to become a different gender. We have had that discussion.

“I don’t think that she needs to know the definition of transgender right now because there is widely a negative connotation - not for myself but just in society.”

Lily was bullied and teased at her old school and has since moved to a new school where she is able to dress in boys' clothes and is fully supported by her teacher.

Lily didn't like pinks or princess outfits from an early age
"Maybe or maybe not my name will be Lily when I grow up. I might change it. I would call myself Jack or Jackson."

Vanessa said: “Lily was in a different school before and they didn’t have a uniform. She received a lot of questions from not only from other students but from her teacher as to why she chose to dress the way she did.

"A little boy in kindergarten made fun of her shoes because she was wearing boys' shoes and that really affected her and she has since switched schools.

Instead of my Little Pony and princesses, Lily prefers Power Rangers and super heroes like Spider Man

“I think re-location at some point might be necessary. I love where we live - I grew up here and I would hate to uproot our lives - but if Lily was being bullied or not being accepted that would far outweigh staying here.”

Vanessa, who wrote a post on her worries about her daughter on her parenting and lifestyle blog, has also been on the receiving end of hostility and has even lost friends, while other parents refuse to let their children play with Lily.

Vanessa said: “I have lost some friendships over it because they think I’m pushing some sort of an agenda on her.

Vanessa and Lily play at Star Wars

“I was attacked on Facebook by someone that used to be good friend of mine. He accused me of trying to convince Lily that she is transgender as though it is my choice.

“That was very hurtful and was kind of a surprise to me that people don’t just see this is as parenting a child who has a different path than most traditional girl rules and gender rules.”

As she grew older, Lily refused to wear anything pink or in any way ‘girly’ – all dresses were out while skater t-shirts and ‘boys’ jeans were in.

Vanessa said: “When we went to Target, Lily would gravitate to the boy's section.”

Lily prefers to wear boys clothes
Lily is different to a typical tomboy says mum Vanessa

“When she started to watch TV shows it was Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles as opposed to My Little Pony and it was always nurtured by us because I thought, ‘Hey this is kind of cool’ and so we nurtured it from day one.”

In spite of her on-going support for her daughter’s choices, Vanessa admits to feeling a little sadness.

She said: “There is a small part of me in mourning that I don’t have a typical girl because although I’m very pro being outside of gender norms, there is a little piece of me that wishes I had a lovely girly girl.”

Vanessa with Lily as a baby dressed as a flower

Aged five, members of the public would mistake Lily for a boy. At first Vanessa would correct them but when she realised her daughter liked it she stopped.

“Even when she had long curly red hair she was always mistaken for a boy. There was some embarrassment in the beginning from me but once I saw it made Lily happy we stopped correcting people.

“It probably always felt right in her world that people were calling her a boy.”

Inside her closet are lots of super and comic hero t. shirts and skateboarding gear
Vanessa will let her daughter explore who she wants to be without pushing her to transition too soon

Now Lily talks about boy’s names she’d like to be called in the future and sometimes asks mum Vanessa to call her by these names.

Lily said: “Maybe or maybe not my name will be Lily when I grow up. I might change it. I would call myself Jack or Jackson.”

Asked what she’d like to be in the future, Lily said:
“I think I’m going to take some medicines so I can like transform into a boy and get surgery.”

Any plans to transition are on hold until Lily hits puberty says Vanessa, who is more concerned with her daughter being able to live her life without being labeled too quickly.

Vanessa said: “I think there is a danger in not labelling a transgender if they are. I think there could be a danger in labelling them transgender if we’re talking about confusion. And I think there might be a fine line and that’s what I’m struggling to figure out myself.

“I just happen to be talking about my little girl that wants to be a little boy. And that could take on a line of different forms in the future.

"But for now let’s just leave her be Lily.”