A three-year-old transitioned to being a girl at the age of three while living with foster parents whose own son, aged seven, had also changed gender.
The younger child was dressed in girl’s clothes against the wishes of teachers, the Sunday Times reported.
It was reported that another foster child who the couple had looked after also had “gender identity issues”.
The foster parents, known only as CP and TP, were investigated by social services at Lancashire County Council amid concerns they had “manipulated” their children’s gender and “actively encouraged” them to change.
But a judge dismissed those concerns at a closed hearing in Preston family court last month, clearing the parents to continue caring for the children.
Mr Justice Williams said “the evidence from almost all sources of how the children are prospering in the care of CP and TP provides very powerful support to the contention that CP and TP are good parents”.
One of the gender identity experts in the case, Dr Vickie Pasterski, said gender dysphoria had biological foundations that could not be altered by “interpersonal influence or environmental interference”.
The judge said her evidence “compellingly rebuts” claims from social services and made it “overwhelmingly obvious that neither have suffered or are at risk of suffering significant emotional harm arising from their complete social transition to females occurring at a very young age”.
Dr Paterski’s opinion is disputed by the NHS’s gender identity development service clinic at Tavistock Square in London, where at least one of the children was treated.
Bernadette Wren, head of clinical psychology at the clinic, wrote last month: “Younger gender-atypical children are likely to be more easily influenced by their parents’ view about gender, even to the point of assuming an absolute, long-term commitment to a binary gender identity and a social transition.”
She said the clinic preferred that children under the age of 10 did not make a “full, legally confirmed social transition”.
The court’s judgment said that TP and CP had been foster carers for 16 years and that five children, now aged between four and 17, were involved in the proceedings.
Two were the couple’s natural children and three are foster children.
Their youngest natural child, known as R, now 13 years old, transitioned from a boy to a girl aged seven, the judgment said.
Her parents changed her name by deed poll and got her a new passport, but R was unhappy, the ruling said, telling a staff member at her school a few months later that “she did not think life was worth living”.
At the same time, a foster child, a boy known as H, arrived with the family. H, who is now six, “was being dressed in girls’ clothes” at the age of three.
The mother, TP, reportedly told a teacher: “Here’s another one for the Tavistock.”
The school requested that H wear a boy’s uniform from the age of four, but attended in a girl’s one.
Social services said: “TP and CP are highly manipulative people. There are significant concerns that parents/carers have manipulated children’s gender and diagnosis of additional needs, which is considered the highest level of emotional abuse.”
It said TP and CP “consistently sought to have additional foster children placed in their care in order to meet their own needs, whether financial or emotional”.
But Lancashire County Council decided not to remove the children from their parents, the Sunday Times reported.