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YoBob's avatar

Transgender - How soon is too soon for the transformation?

Asked by YoBob (12798 points ) August 26th, 2011

So… there is a child who attended elementary school with my son. Somewhere along the way the parents choose to home school for awhile. Now, the child is a freshman at my son’s high school and is currently undergoing procedures to change her into a boy (and no, I don’t have a problem with that).

Having known a couple of transgender adults along the way who made the transformation from male to female, I totally get the whole difference between gender identity and sexual preference and understand that there truly are people who have a gender identity that does not match their physiology.

That being said, how soon is too soon to make such an irreversible change. On the one hand, if one is truly trapped in the wrong body why not make the change as early in life as possible. On the other hand, what early teen truly is comfortable with their sexuality and gender identity?

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6 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

You can’t say when is too soon. Every person is different. Some people feel like they know—absolutely know from a very early age.

We might say their brains are not fully formed and therefore they shouldn’t make a decision like that now. Wait until they are 25 or something. But if your child is that miserable and you aren’t opposed to the idea, and you truly love your child, it seems to me that you could convince yourself your child was right about this.

It’s always hard to know with kids. They want this this year, and then they want that the next year. It seems like they’ve totally forgotten this. I would imagine this is something that has been going on for years with no letup. If the doctors agree, and my child is adamant and has been adamant for a long time, then I think this age is not too soon.

I would say I wouldn’t want to follow through on such a decision before a child is 14, though. I’d like them to have passed puberty, just to see how the hormone changes affect them. The age would be different, though, depending on the individual.

FutureMemory's avatar

I would say at least 20ish, just to be sure it wasn’t a phase. The teenage years are full of upheaval, as we all know.

martianspringtime's avatar

I hesitate to say since I can’t speak from personal experience, but I would think that even at a young age, a child can comprehend the complicated (not to mention expensive) nature of making a decision of that magnitude and probably would not take it lightly. I don’t think it’s the kind of thing that is easy to confuse with a phase, at least when you’re the one experiencing it.

augustlan's avatar

What an interesting question. I’m trying to imagine what I’d do if one of my teenaged girls was sure she should be a boy, and had been sure for years. I tend to think that elective surgery should be put off until a child is done growing (physically), so I’d likely put the surgery part of the procedure off until then. In the meantime, though, starting the transition seems like the kindest thing to do. Appropriate clothes, a name change, hormones, etc. would at least help the child feel more at home in their identity (and the world), I’d think.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Not all changes that accompany transition are irreversible. However, some are and there are advocates on both sides of the debate. Many of the all timers say they wish they’d started sooner as there are certain benefits to doing so. However, when changes are taken around the kid being 5 or 6, I pull out my red flag. In fact, at last year’s trans health conference, I got into an argument over this specific thing with a famous endocrinologist who was all about changes as young as possible. I’m a part of the trans community, I haven’t undertaken any kind of physical changes because of my gender struggle and I’m the kind of activist that believes the future lies with gender fluidity rather than with gender rigidity and less trans people will have such a dire need to do something to their bodies (children included) because they will feel they have more ways of being. Surely, there will always be people who will want to be the opposite sex but, for many, the tide will change since, as it stands now, those of us who are not about changing into the opposite sex but not okay with our own categories are increasing in numbers. This very thing together with regrets of going through certain transitions is what my PhD studies will focus on down the road. GQ

Hibernate's avatar

There’s no easy answer to this question. I believe it’s better to just do it if it’s a matter of health issue if not just let them decide for themselves.

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