'Gender trap' schoolboy (11) is hailed as an inspiration
An 11-year-old school pupil has been hailed as an inspiration after going public with his extraordinary story of how it feels to be trapped in a girl's body.
And he revealed how his mother stood by him when he took the courageous step of begging her to accept him as a boy.
The pupil, who will be starting secondary school in a fortnight wearing a boy's uniform, also spoke of his hopes of being accepted by his peers.
The young transgender, whose real name was withheld when he spoke on BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show yesterday, said he had felt "different" since he was five, but was too frightened come out until now.
"It was very difficult growing up being trapped in the wrong body," said 'Paul'. "I couldn't take it any longer so I had to come out. It was too difficult. I was crying myself to sleep at night. It was just horrible.
"I just wanted to be a boy, wear boy's clothes and do everything as a boy."
In a candid interview with presenter Stephen Nolan, the youngster revealed how he broke the news to his mother.
He said: "I'm transgender. I want to be a boy. I'm not a girl. Please accept me."
His mum - 'Angela' - said the news hadn't come as a shock, adding that her son had been bullied for five years at primary school.
"I reassured him that I would always be here for him," she said.
"It doesn't make him any less my child."
She also dismissed any suggestion that Paul was going through a phase because of his age.
"Children are becoming more aware of their feelings at a younger age," she said.
"Who am I to argue with what's going on in his head?"
Referring to his imminent move to high school, Paul said he was a little apprehensive. "I'm confident when it comes to my grades but I'm a bit worried about making friends and whether or not people will accept me," he said.
Paul - who hasn't had corrective surgery - was surprised at how some of his classmates took the news.
"Kids that I thought were going to be mean about it actually turned out to be the nicest," he said.
"I felt better once I told people and I stopped crying myself to sleep."
After the interview was broadcast, listeners called in to voice their support for Paul's bravery.
Scores of people also used social media to tweet their praise for the young boy's honest account of what he has been going through.
Ciaran Moynagh wrote: "Well done Paul. This is not an isolated story", while Doug Beattie said: "Fascinating interview with an incredibly articulate 11-year-old."
Meanwhile, Colum Eastwood tweeted: "An inspiring interview. Well done Paul."