With medical technology improving every day, more elaborate operations are possible. Parents Louise and Nikki Draven can certainly attest to that, as they are both planning to have gender reassignment surgery. However, ahead of the switch, the pair looked at how their choice would affect their young son.
Residents of Middlesbrough, England, Louise and Nikki first met back in 2011, when they attended an LGBT meeting. At that time the former was still a man, while the latter identified as a lesbian. In January 2012 the duo were married in a pagan wedding ceremony.
However, ahead of their son’s birth in 2013, Louise decided to live her life as a female, finally acting upon the feelings she’d had since childhood. Despite that big change, though, Nikki took it in her stride. “I don’t fall in love with someone because they’re male or female,” she told UK newspaper the Daily Mirror in August 2017.
“It doesn’t matter to me what they’ve got between their legs,” Nikki continued. “It’s the mind, personality and soul I fall in love with, not the body.” With that in mind, she started to embrace her own feelings and by 2017 was identifying as pansexual. As a result of that, the mom would dress as both a male and a female.
However, with Louise preparing for her gender reassignment surgery in December 2018, Nikki made a bold decision. Indeed, after years of internal struggle, she looked to follow her partner’s lead, as she saw herself as a man. Now going by the name Charlie, he plans to have his own reassignment surgery in the near future.
“I’ve never been comfortable being female but it’s taken me a while to admit that,” Charlie told the Daily Mirror in September 2018. “I was never happy about having periods or growing breasts. It felt all wrong. So I did some soul-searching and realized I’ve always wanted to be male.”
As for Louise, her transition has been a tough journey, as she has dropped more than 220 pounds ahead of the operation. “It took a lot of self-discipline after bariatric surgery,” she told the Daily Mirror. “I have doubts all the time [about the operation] but that’s just part and parcel of my transition.”
“No one chooses these feelings but when people do, they need the outside of their bodies to match the inside,” Louise added. With the couple preparing to enter the next stage of their life, though, all eyes turned towards their young son, Star Cloud. However, his parents then made an interesting admission.
Charlie and Louise are raising their son as gender-neutral, giving him a choice as to how he wants to appear. Furthermore, the pair also tell Star that he is a “person” as opposed to a “boy,” with his school uniform reflecting that. Indeed, the youngster opted to wear pink socks with his boy’s outfit ahead of his first day at school in September 2017.
With that in mind, the Dravens are now referred to as the first gender-fluid family in Britain. “We want to give [Star] the confidence to be who he wants – growing up, we didn’t have that,” Charlie told the Daily Mirror. “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,” Charlie continued. “Pink is one of his favorite colors. 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.”
Prior to starting school, though, that flexible attitude to Star’s gender came into question, as he was pulled up at his kindergarten for playing with dolls. However, Charlie and Louise did their best to reassure him, which resulted in a surprising response.
“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,” Charlie recalled. “He said, ‘I might not be a daddy – I might be a mommy!’” Despite those difficulties, though, the parents revealed that Star’s school fully supports his situation.
Meanwhile, the couple believe that Star has a good grasp of what’s going on with regards to their own gender. “He has a five-year-old’s understanding of our situation,” Charlie told the Daily Mirror in September 2018. “I’ve always been daddy and Louise has always been mommy and that’s never going to change.”
However, while he might have a good understanding for his age, the youngster still has queries from time to time. “Star sometimes asks questions,” Charlie continued. “Recently he asked why I had to wear a swimsuit at the pool and not trunks like other daddies.”
“I tell Star mommy is going to a special doctor who will take away her ducky, which is Star’s word for penis,” Charlie added. “I say that when I go to the special doctor I’ll be getting a ducky of my own then I’ll be just like him.”
Unsurprisingly, Charlie and Louise’s stance on this matter provoked a lot of responses on social media. However, those users were stoked even further after the pair appeared on British television show This Morning in September 2018, to discuss the gender situation. The reaction that followed was far from positive.
“I would like to think I’m open minded, but I’m not sure what to think about this couple on This Morning,” wrote Twitter user Clem Fandango. “Both are swapping genders and they have a son who they are bringing up gender neutral. How confusing must this be for [a] five-year-old!”
Those feelings were reiterated by fellow user Laura McKenzie, who expressed a concern for Star’s future. “I’m all for people being who they want to be, but [why] on earth have they gone on national TV and put pictures up of their little boy, who is just starting school?” McKenzie wrote. “I’m sorry, but that’s just asking for the poor child to have a tough life.”
Despite the negative responses, though, Louise explained the necessity of the operations for everyone concerned. “All parents worry,” she told the Daily Mirror. “But having surgery will make Charlie and I feel complete as individuals and we’ll be much happier because of that. If we waited until Star was older, he’d spend his childhood with parents who felt incomplete.”