Lauren Noakes's son Leo has always been obsessed with clothes, hair and make-up.
As a toddler, he watched "transfixed" as she chose her clothes, and fixed her hair and make-up, Noakes told The Mirror.
When he turned five, she begun to suspect "his interest bordered on obsession". She explained to the publication:
My friend Gemma is a shoeaholic, and whenever we visited, Leo would make a beeline for her bedroom. ‘Can I have these?’ he’d ask, tottering about in yet another pair of her stilettos.
Because Gemma was overrun with shoes, she’d agree. And because Leo’s eyes lit up whenever he wore them, I didn’t mind.
Leo's interest soon grew: he wanted to wear girls' clothes ever day; he wanted to wear lipstick out the house; and he loved trying on dresses and princess shoes.
Lauren thought Leo's growing obsession was a "bit strange", she admitted, though she was careful not to judge him for it.
Worried by a friend's comment that she was 'making Leo gay' - not that she would discriminate, but she "hated the thought of making Leo's life difficult" - she reluctantly got rid of his dressing-up things and nurtured his interest in cars:
For his seventh birthday I asked family to buy him toy vehicles, and for a while, cars distracted Leo from makeup and shoes.
It didn’t last long, though.
Between reading about motors, he’d admire Gemma’s nails. I was fighting a losing battle.
It was only at a family gathering, when a friend said Leo was watching RuPaul's Drag Race upstairs, that "the penny finally dropped".
Shocked, she deleted it from his iPod, much to Leo's devastation. Conflicted, she eventually let him watch it, but first discussed with him what was and was not appropriate to share with his peers.
Leo's behaviour confirmed to her that she had made the right choice:
The show was the boost Leo needed. Finally, there were people he could relate to.
The makeup crept back in, and this time I embraced it.
Even teasing at school didn't deter Leo.
One day - despite taunts - he confidently walked through school in leggings, butterfly shoes and a girl's cardigan:
His beaming smile meant I knew he’d found his true identity.
I couldn’t have felt prouder of my trailblazing son.
It took some ironing out with the school - for example, explaining that he identifies as male but enjoys wearing feminine clothes - but very soon, everyone was happy and accepting.
Soon, Lauren fully embraced Leo's desires and made him an Instagram account when he asked, aged nine.
Depsite Lauren's reservations about trolling, Leo was insistent and Lauren set him up a private account under the drag name 'Violet Vixen'.
At her first live drag act, Lauren was warmed by the "supportive, non-judgemental, positive vibe". She continued:
When I think back on the journey Leo and I’ve been on, I can hardly believe it. I’m so proud to have a son who breaks the mould.
HT The Mirror