Social Question

NerdyKeith's avatar

What do you think of parents claiming that their children as young as five years old are transgender?

Asked by NerdyKeith (5439points) March 5th, 2017

Is this too young for a child to be worrying about their gender identity? Should they not be allowed to experience life before making such decisions?

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53 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

Having kids is a license to be an idiot and have a fistful of reasons to justify their cluelessness over how to properly raise a child. Don’t get me started.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I agree with you and @Cruiser .

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
janbb's avatar

In my experience, it is the kids at 5 who are saying they are boys or girls of the opposite gender and this is not being dictated by the parents. I think it’s wrong to see gender as set in stone at that age or to make drastic conclusions based on gender identity that young, but I do believe some children just know. Ideally, we would all accept gender fluidity at any age and there would not be the need to stigmatize or pigeonhole people but that is a long way off.

kritiper's avatar

Space cadets. Like Trump.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
Patty_Melt's avatar

Okay, so, we all go through stages. We hit these stages differently, and not all at the same time. Sometimes we envy.
We might envy someone else’s wealth, or beauty, or their family’s strong ties in circles of prominent community members.
When we are very little, we see everything for that first time, new things every day. Some things we accept, some make us curious, some we reject.
Having some moments of questioning should not be life altering.
I think a little boy can experiment with Mommy’s makeup without meaning he is a cross dresser, or gender non specific.
I believe parents can let such events go by without proclaiming their child one or another thing and fixing that child with labels.
I lived rough as a little girl. I was tiny, but I was agile, and strong, and it was useless to hope I could get through a day in a dress. I am all woman though, and my navy time didn’t take that away from me either.
Youth need to be able to explore who they are, without gender issues being thrown at them. They will let us all know who they are when they know for themselves.

JLeslie's avatar

From what I understand, some children at very young ages are absolutely sure what gender they are supposed to be. I think in those cases the parents should be supportive.

At 5 years old I knew I was a girl because that’s what I was told. It didn’t mean much of anything. I still climbed trees, rode my bike, I liked my aunt’s long hair, I could go on and on, and I don’t think my gender mattered much at all. Yes, I wore a dress once in a while, but mostly I wore clothes to play in.

I certainly don’t think making gender a big deal at very young ages should be thing. I also don’t think withholding gender norms from young children should be a thing either.

If I were a parent, my biggest concern, besides my child being hurt by mean people, would be approaching teen years regarding making decisions about taking hormones. I tend to be nervous about hormones, medical procedures, and surgeries, and transgender can involve all of that. That would be extremely stressful for me as a parent. I’d worry about decisions that can’t be undone easily, and that carry major risks.

Jeruba's avatar

I sure am glad someone didn’t start scheduling me for treatments the first time I said “I wish I were a boy.” It wasn’t penis envy. It was toy-car envy, miniature-railroad envy, trousers envy, and running-on-playgrounds envy. Bike envy and street-games envy. And I wasn’t even a tomboy. But in those days boys could do anything they wanted while girls had to sit with their knees together and their ankles crossed and disavow any knowledge of unladylike language.

Later on I figured out it was pretty cool to be a girl.

All kids seem to go through phases of gender exploration of various kinds. Hopping onto a “transgender” bandwagon, though, seems much more serious and potentially destructive than grabbing onto, say, a dietary fad (how many of us really are threatened by glutens?) or a psychosocial one (not every bored kid needs to be medicated for ADHD). I don’t think anyone should ever have such a choice as gender identity forced on them, much less made for them by someone else.

funkdaddy's avatar

I’ve asked this question of my wife when we had a young kid locally who had other parents petitioning the school since they were using the “wrong” bathroom last year.

My daughter is 4, she learns more about gender roles at school, from the other kids, than she does at home, even at this age. So I can only see questions like this through her and try to put myself in the parent’s shoes.

If she came home tomorrow and said she felt like a boy, and was consistently insistent, I think that just makes a tremendously difficult set of choices for the parents and I empathize with them. My personal feeling is it’s too young to know, but what do I do if she insists that she is indeed a boy deep down and wants to live as a boy?

Punish her? Say she can be a boy, but only at home? Ask her to act girly? Explain it’s a phase to someone that young? Have her talk to a psychologist? Find some middle ground? What good option is there?

I honestly don’t know, I’d just try to do the best I could and ultimately I’m going to support my kids over the world’s expectations of them. I think there’s certainly some folks who are taking advantage of it being a “hot topic” and jumping on, but I think there’s probably also a lot of surprised parents out there doing the best they can.

I think it’s too young to know, but I also remember that we’re all too young the first time we fall in love, somehow we find our way.

johnpowell's avatar

Is this a hypothetical? I don’t doubt that some idiots do this. I just wonder if there is a story attached to it.

funkdaddy's avatar

@johnpowell

Local case in the paper

An elementary student who apparently had decided by 2nd grade.

Sneki95's avatar

I think they’re morons and someone should call child protection services or something.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I think some very stupid adults take at face value a young boy’s desire to be handled more gently by adults—as they may see some girls being treated—and a girl’s desire to experience the apparent entitledness and franchise boys may have as gender confusion. I see it as perfectly normal for a young boy wanting to be treated more gently and with less challenge at a young age, and for a girl to see life as a boy more exciting.

Thank goodness the gender roles aren’t as rigid as they were forty years ago and girls can now climb trees, play contact sports and wear jeans without being labeld “Tomboys.” For young boys, I don’t think the world is as enlightened, and for that boy’s future challenges, maybe it shouldn’t be.

Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird was a typical Tomboy of her time. Dill Harris was a typical boy who wish to be treated more gently. They were modeled after author Harper Lee (Scout) and Truman Capote (Dill) as children. Interestingly, Harper Lee never married and Capote grew up Gay. I believe this is unusual as many sensitive boys who have little in common with the more boisterous types grow to be heterosexual as do most tomboys.

Children’s brains are not fully formed to understand what they see at age four and serious sexuality and gender roles do not come into play until puberty. At four, they aren’t beyond the stage of concrete thinking, literal interpretation, and they are just discovering gender role play, but have no knowledge base of what those roles are and what they actually will mean later in life.

If a girl of four told me she wanted to be a boy, I would interpret that as her need for the empowerment and adventure that she envies in boys. If a boy shows sensitivity far more than the average boy, and wants to play with dolls and such, I would interpret that as a kid who is simply more domestic than the average boy who wants to be an “Injun”, or hunt tigers and bears, race cars and go to the moon, etc. I certainly wouldn’t interpret that as being transgender and I would not discourage either behaviour.

I say keep it loose, these are growing minds and the more intelligent ones do a lot of experimenting and show a lot more curiosity at a young age than the average ones do.

Hell, my father once spanked me when I was five because I told him that I wanted to be a dog when I grew up. It totally freaked him out. He was a city boy from the slums of Baltimore during the Depression and to him dogs were filthy beasts that brought vermin and disease into the house. Therefore, he couldn’t understand why anyone would want to be a dog. I remember him desperately asking why I didn’t want to be an Indian or a sailor like he did when he was five. The interrogation that ensued caused me to clam up. Hey, I thought my dog had it pretty good. My mom gave him hell for spanking me for that. I think it is extremely notable that I still remember that 59 years later.

I’ve never been a parent and never expect to be one, but even I can figure this shit out because I, too, was a child once.

johnpowell's avatar

Thanks @funkdaddy :: That is super stupid.

I’m super friendly to alternative lifestyles. I remember wearing my sisters panties when I was five years old since they simply felt better. 40 years later I still bang chicks.

But this is clearly using their kids as a prop. And is disgusting.

MrGrimm888's avatar

My unqualified opinion would be that 5 is too young. But I have known at least 2 homosexuals, one female, one male, who claim they knew around that age.

Soubresaut's avatar

I don’t think it’s too young for a child to be worrying about their gender identity. I also am not sure that raising a child genderless is inherently more damaging than raising them “boy” or “girl”—children have gender put on them well before they understand the differences…. but I do think that putting adult baggage about gender issues onto children is an issue.

I also, like others have mentioned, don’t think many children fully understand what gender identity is. At least, I know I didn’t. I still remember being a first grader in a first/second grade combo class, and having the second grade girls that I looked up to tell me that boys had cooties and I shouldn’t talk to them. I nodded very seriously, feeling a little sad because I thought some of the boys were friendly, but pretty much stopped talking to the boys. It wasn’t just on me, though—the whole first grade followed the second grade’s example.

The next year, we stepped into the second grade position ourselves, and we stopped caring about cooties and just decided to be friends with each other. Ironically, some of the first graders thought that was weird and tried to tell us that meant we loovveed each other. In many ways, I found that teasing worse than the idea of cooties.

One of my sister’s closest friends from preschool and early elementary school was a boy. (Then he changed schools and we didn’t see him as much.) We didn’t really understand why we peed one way and he peed another. We just knew that he did. We played the same and thought many of the same things were interesting, and we peed differently. That was the extent of our understanding of gender for a long time.

Like others have mentioned, I think allowing the child flexibility/fluidity, allowing the child choice in how they express them self, is probably key. We shouldn’t be pigeonholing a child into a gender just because they exhibit some traits stereotypically associated with that gender. And if that’s what we’re talking about, then I don’t think the parents are helping any, and they’re only reinforcing gender stereotypes, and they might very well be harming their child’s sense of identity.

But if for a while a child decides they’re one gender or another… why not go along with it? What’s the harm there? Children experiment with identity all the time, don’t they? (Heck, don’t we all?) I have all sorts of stories of different classmates who experimented with one aspect of identity or another, and stories of my own explorations as well. And we all went along with each other’s experiments like they were serious and permanent in the moment. Why shouldn’t we have? Those experiments helped us to figure ourselves out, whether we stuck with a decision or not.

DominicY's avatar

@MrGrimm888 Knowing your sexuality is a bit different. That doesn’t involve possible life-altering physical changes that can’t be taken back. Whether or not someone can truly know their sexuality that young, it makes no difference whether the sexuality is homosexual or heterosexual. My mom says she had a crush on a boy when she was 5. I had a crush on a boy when I was 9. Does this mean we “knew our sexuality” back then? I don’t know, but it’s not the same as gender identity. That involves raising your child completely differently and molding them into something they may not be.

As others have said, it’s perfectly possible that later on in life, a trans person may look back at their early childhood and claim they knew since then. But that doesn’t mean that it’s wise for a parent to indulge their child’s seeming desire to be the other gender at such a young age. As I’ve often shared, I used to pretend I was a girl when I was younger. I had an EasyBake oven and loved my sister’s dollhouse and gave myself a girl’s name when I’d play with the neighbor kids. I ended up not being transgender at all (though homosexual). It would’ve been a mistake for my parents to treat me as transgender at that young age. It’s a time when kids are just figuring out gender roles and stereotypes. It’s not a time to make such drastic decisions about your children.

ucme's avatar

Some parents are fucking dumb, shock horror!!
It’s like they love the idea of having a “glam” minority in the family so fucking stupid & shallow are they, hey get a poodle & dye it pink

flutherother's avatar

I don’t really believe in sticking labels on kids especially when they are so young.

MrGrimm888's avatar

@DominicY . That’s why I prefaced my response with “my unqualified opinion.”

I felt that my only valid contribution was that I knew two people who felt that they knew their sexual preference at that age (allegedly.)

Perhaps I stuck my nose in here where it didn’t belong. No offense intended. Apologies.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

Premature perception. It’s as simple as that.

janbb's avatar

No one gives hormones to 5 year olds to the best of my knowledge. It is more a question of dress and bathrooms. It doesn’t mean kids can’t change back. From my experience of the parents I know of who support this, they are going along to have happy children rather than unhappy ones. I think this is a new area and while strange to me, I am loathe to make sweeping critical judgments like some of those expressed above. I feel lucky not to have been faced with such an issue. Everyone is so quick to judge issues they have not experienced.

JLeslie's avatar

After reading a few answers here I’ll add that I had never even heard the word tomboy until I was about age 10. I remember someone using it, calling a girl a tomboy, and I had to ask what it was. I didn’t fully understand it when it was explained to me, which I’m very grateful for. Is that word, tomboy, still in use? I never hear it anymore, but I personally very rarely heard it when I was young.

Labels generally suck, especially for young children. Children should be told how beautiful and fantastic they are, and encouraged to pursue their interests and talents. I don’t see why gender comes up much at all at a young age, and I think calling a girl a boy, even a tomboy, or a boy a girl or sissy, is a bad idea.

@janbb I mentioned the hormones regarding puberty. Meaning, if the young child has chose the opposite identity, and the hormones are in the future, that would be very scary to me as a parent.

janbb's avatar

@JLeslie It ws a general comment, not a response to you. Agree that it would be great if we had no gender labels but society is far from that. Most toys are either blue or pink – you have to choose. Clothes are gender normative too, even girls Osh Koshes have ruffles. It is a shame. And I think the gender identifications of today have replaced the derogative terms of yesteryear in some cases. There are problems with all of it.

cookieman's avatar

okay, I’ll rephrase…

I think it’s highly presumptuous of the parents and very self centered. Projecting their perspective on a child who hasn’t had the time to figure out who they are on their own.

I know a couple who did this to their two daughters. Named them androgynous names. Dressed them in non-gender-specific clothing (blacks and greys mostly), and wouldn’t allow anyone to refer to them as she or he, only by their first name.

I feel the same way about religion. Kids need to just “be” and explore and be introduced to all sorts of options. They will eventually figure out who they are whether it’s gender or sexuality or regarding religious beliefs.

janbb's avatar

@cookieman I’m not arguing for androgynous child rearing necessarily but don’t you see that society is also forcing a choice by the very deterministic clothing and toys and norms that are being sold? I think what those parents are attempting, clumsily or not, is to push back against what is being forced on the kids societally.

I also think we’re talking about two different issues. Parents who impose gender or genderlessness on their kids and those kids who genuinely feel they are the wrong gender and parents who struggle to accept their kids’ identity.

And as parents, we are always projecting our ideas on children who haven’t had time to figure out their own – whether it’s the baptism, the bow in the hair and the dollhouse or the greay and black, or green and yellow clothing.

Strauss's avatar

It’s never as black and white as it might seem. Is it an expression of gender identity, or is it a question of societal norms and expectations? It’s probably somewhere in the large grey area between the two.

Coloma's avatar

I agree with supporting a child in whatever manner is befitting to them but, that said, I would not make any gender changes in dress or lifestyle for a very young child or any child pre-adolescence. If the child is still adamant about a disparity between their biological and psychological gender identity as they approach adolescence I would encourage therapy and proper guidance to be certain they are, indeed, ready to undergo the changes to start living with their new gender identity. I would not make drastic changes for a 4 yr. old who may just be expressing a whim of gender envy,.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I have difficulty with this question.

Being transgender is a very real issue. I believe that.

Is it possible for a 4-year-old to know? I honestly don’t know. I’m struggling with this idea.

I see the value of allowing the child to express himself or herself however s/he may desire. I have no qualms about abolishing gender roles altogether.

I think I would tend to allow a child to dress himself or herself however s/he wished, and just let it go.

If a child who happens to have the body of one gender insisted on being identified as the opposite gender for many years, I would trust their judgement about themselves and support them.

Sneki95's avatar

After thinking about it a bit more….
Just how exactly can a child know its gender? A kid can’t even grasp not to put toys in their mouth, much less what gender is, and what gender roles are, what is good and bad in all of that and what their gender is.
If the kid doesn’t know it itself, how can parents know with certainty, and teach their kids according to their supposed knowledge?
Cheer assumption that all of that works, and that a parent has such rights to decide what gender their kid is and program them accordingly is straight out abuse. Imagine that kid in school. Kids get bullied for way simpler things than “my mom told me I’m genderless and that gender is just a social concept”. I’ve no idea who is the kid you refer to, but I feel that those alternative methods of parenting ain’t gonna end well for the kid.

Also, at the very end, what if the kid isn’t transgender? What if the kid is “normal” (through a lack of a better expression), but is since childhood indoctrinated to be something it never was anyways?

cookieman's avatar

…don’t you see that society is also forcing a choice by the very deterministic clothing and toys and norms that are being sold?

@janbb: You are 100% right there. I agree completely and have argued as such here in the lagoon (telling a story about when my daughter was younger getting annoyed in Children’s Place because the store is divided down the middle – girls to the left, boys to the right. What if my daughter wants a dump truck on her tee-shirt?) We’ve always taught our daughter that there is no such thing as “boys” or “girls” colors, toys, etc.

I also think we’re talking about two different issues. Parents who impose gender or genderlessness on their kids and those kids who genuinely feel they are the wrong gender and parents who struggle to accept their kids’ identity.

@janbb: Also agree, but I find it hard to believe that a toddler “genuinely feel(s) they are the wrong gender.” I am open to being wrong about this pending evidence. Also, the parents I know, pretty clearly imposed it on to their children.

And as parents, we are always projecting our ideas on children who haven’t had time to figure out their own – whether it’s the baptism, the bow in the hair and the dollhouse or the greay and black, or green and yellow clothing.

@janbb: Also true, but it’s a matter of degrees. Having her baptized is not going to significantly define who my daughter thinks she is (she doesn’t even remember it), being treated androgynously from birth to teen years certainly will.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb I don’t expect society to be absent of gender specific clothing, or even the color children’s toys are made, I just expect there to be little emphasis on gender at such a young age.

I do see differences in boys and girls that I think are innate. Not all boys and all girls, but boys tend to be more rambunctious, and they do tend to gravitate towards certain activities. I’ll never forget being at a friend’s house and her 4 year old boy yelling, “who wants to fight?” We were outside at a lawn party and he wanted to wrestle with any willing and able little kid who was willing. I have never seen any girls do that.

If a girl gravitates towards the cars and hammers, no problem. If a boy wants to cook, sounds good to me.

I like being a girl, I feel like women have some very special qualities, men have others, and I’m not trying to erase gender.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie I agree, it is about choice and there is nothing wrong with enjoying frilly girl dresses or or wearing jeans and boots, or liking the color pink or blue or whatever. Gender identity doesn’t mean we need to make a clean sweep of every little thing that has a stereotype.
I like being a woman too and don’t want anyone telling me I can’t enjoy wearing make up r dresses or jewelry because I am being gender biased. Pffft!

Seek's avatar

I sell Swarovsky crystal jewelry at the Renaissance Festival every year. It’s really shiny stuff, we hang it right in the sun and it throws rainbows everywhere. I work in the dust of unicorn farts. Seriously.

Inevitably, there are a few little boys every weekend who run up, excited by the shinies, only to be grabbed by a parent and yanked back and told, ”That’s not for boys

It’s even worse when said little boy’s three sisters each get to choose a small necklace with a heart-shaped charm, or one of our little picture charms with a butterfly or an anchor or a teddy bear or whatever on it. The boy who just wanted to look at the shiny crystals (and who knows what totally stereotypically gender appropriate things were being sparked in his imagination?) has to go away with nothing, and I know for a fact the only other $5 souvenir for “boys” is a toy sword, and I mean every year to ask the toy sword guy how many girls are told they can’t buy one because they’re “for boys”.

I say all that to say, in my direct experience, most parents aggressively force gender traits onto their kids through manipulation for the sake of their own egos.

It’s just more socially acceptable to bludgeon your kid into a gender if that gender “matches” the child’s sex organs.

Coloma's avatar

@Seek That sucks. My daughter was never into dolls of any kind, and always preferred rubber bugs,snakes, frogs, dinosaurs to dolls and real bugs too. She actually hatched a dresser drawer full of wasps in a Dixie cup once after putting all the bug eggs and cocoons she could find in paper cups with ventilated tinfoil tops in her drawer. I opened her drawer to away some of her clothes one day and out flew about 10 baby wasps. haha

I never told her that bugs, frogs and dinosaurs were only for boys. People are so weird. If the boy wants a crystal buy him a damn crystal.

JLeslie's avatar

@Coloma I think in society today it’s easier for girls to do “boy” things than boys to do “girl” things.

I think America is especially hard on boys who like what is deemed to be feminine. My husband has a diamond ring that his dad bought him, I don’t think many Middle America, apple pie, men, wear diamonds Go to Europe and you might mistake a lot of straight men for gay.

If my son wanted Swarovsky, I think I might at some point let him know other boys might tease him about it if I saw a situation where he might get his feelings hurt. I hate saying that, but I think if I’m honest that’s the case. The problem is, I know just saying it to my son I might negatively effect him. Like his choice was wrong in some way. It sucks.

It’s like boys who like to cook; many of the best chefs are men. The majority of jewelers I know are men. They liked the shiny stuff too.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie True, sadly, it is easier for girls to enjoy boy things than the other way around. I was thinking of the boys in @Seek sharing as being really young like 4,5,6, not older where they might be subject to ridicule by their peers.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

While young children may not exactly know they are transgender, they may very well recognise they don’t feel ‘right’ in their body. So as a parent, I would be reluctant to dismiss my child telling me (in their own way and words) that they didn’t feel they fit into their gender identity. However, beyond being caring and supportive, I would be reluctant to start making large changes in their lives. I think I’d try to dress them in non-gender specific clothes and taking similar unobtrusive steps and see how things develop.

I think there is a risk of parents magnifying and amplifying a child’s normal confusion and questioning about their gender. I suspect this might say more about the parent than the child. Starting to insist the child be allowed to use different bathrooms, be known by a different name etc. seem like steps too far when dealing with a young child’s questioning. I’d be more inclined to seek advice, take care not to dismiss the child’s feelings, avoid forcing gender-specific clothing or roles on my child (not that I’d do that anyway) and see how things develop.

JLeslie's avatar

@Coloma I think if they are school age they are at risk. Even neighborhood kids might be mean begore that. I wouldn’t be handing out my warning right at the moment when my son is there with @Seek wanting to purchase it. Only if I really thought it was warranted at some point. Hopefully, never.

I also think the boys father is a big deal in this sort of situation. If the dad ridicules the boy for wanting it or having it, to me that’s the real nightmare.

Aethelwine's avatar

34% of trans people attempt suicide. 64% of young trans people are bullied. 73% of trans people are harassed in public, ranging from insults to physical abuse. 21% of trans people avoid going out in public due to fear.

“Transgender people aren’t trying to kill themselves because they are mentally ill (in fact, a 2016 study published in Pediatrics showed that trans youth who are supported in their transitions had essentially the same rates of mental health as their cisgender peers). Instead, they are suffering because of the way we are treating them. Let that sink in: trans youth are killing themselves because so many of us can’t wrap our minds around the simple idea that there just might be more than one way to know your gender identity. We’re letting our heads get in the way of our hearts. And our children are dying because of it.” – Amber Briggle

I have spent the last two months doing nothing but research, seek professional help and read and share stories with other parents of transgender children since my child came out as transgender. We have all heard stories of parents who raise their children gender neutral. I think these are the parents many of you above are saying nasty things about. Though I don’t see how that kind of parenting is any different from what @seek described. What I can tell you is that a the last thing a parent wants to hear is that their child is transgender. We don’t want to hear this because we know what kind of a life we will be faced with. We (child and parents) will be faced with discrimination, ridicule, bullying or worse.

I belong to a private online support group for parents of transgender children. Our group grows by approximately ten a day. There are a few thousand of us in this group. Our children range in age of 2 to young adult. I can tell you that none of us raised our children as gender neutral. Most of us are feeling loss, confusion and frustration. Yes, a child as young as 5 can feel they are in the wrong body. Just this week I read two stories from mothers who had a young child try to cut off their penis. This happened to one of our admins in the group in 2009 when her child was 5. She happened to wake up one night and felt the need to check on her child. Her child was attempting to cut off his penis and there was blood everywhere. The doctor told her that if she hadn’t found him he would have bled to death.

These two examples are not young boys wanting to experiment with their mother’s clothes, makeup and jewelry. These children feel their body does not represent who they are in the inside. This is not a phase. Statistics show that most trans people who come out at a young age do not have regrets later in life. They knew exactly who they were when they came out. Here is some supporting science for those who want to understand- http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2016/gender-lines-science-transgender-identity/

One of the first things a professional will tell you is to follow your child’s lead. Research has shown that supportive parenting can significantly affect our children’s positive outlook on their lives, their mental health and their self-esteem. On the other hand, rejecting parenting practices are directly correlated to gender-expansive and Transgender youth being more depressed and suicidal. Research shows that the most crucial thing we as parents can do is to allow our children to be exactly who they are. source

Do you still want to call us dumb? Do you still want to call us idiots? All we want is a healthy happy child who won’t try to kill themselves because society doesn’t get them.

janbb's avatar

@jonsblond Thank you for sharing that information. Your child is lucky to have you for a mother. My Ex’s stepson is transgender and i know parental support is crucial. There are parents of transgender children in my church as well. I’m glad you’re finding good resources.

Aethelwine's avatar

Thank you @janbb. Life was finally getting a bit easier for my family once Jon became supervisor at his work and we moved off of the farm and into town. We have a cute home just a half mile from the jr/sr high school and less than a mile from Jon’s work. It seemed perfect. Then our child struggled with depression this last school year and suffered panic attacks before school. He missed 30 days this past school year. We didn’t know the exact cause until he finally came out at the end of the school year. As you may know we live in a very small, homophobic town. We lost some friends and get judgmental looks from people who used to be very friendly with us.

I would love to go back a few years to where I thought I had a so-called normal child. It was so much easier. Now we are looking to move to a larger city closer to family and Jon will be giving up his secure job and looking for work so we can provide a safer and more accepting environment for our child. The trouble is worth it though. Our child is coming out of his depression and loving life again. He is looking forward to a fresh start in a new town and new school where he can be himself.

canidmajor's avatar

A young trans friend of mine shared this with me recently:

“I’ve always liked the analogy that a friend of ours made. She compares being transgender to handedness. How do you know if you’re right-handed or left-handed? No one tells you. You’re not born with a mark on your hand telling people which you are. You just know. When you put something in the wrong hand, you know then, too. You know it feels wrong, not right.That’s how gender is. When a trans person is walking around the world in the gender they’re not, they know it feels wrong. They just know. And when they transition, when they live authentically, it’s like picking up a pencil in the right hand. It feels good, it feels natural and authentic and right.”

NerdyKeith's avatar

Well said @canidmajor what an excellent answer.

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond I think it’s wonderful you are such a supportive mom, and I know you have been very worried about the depression your son has been going through. I just want to say, and I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, that I would let him know it’s ok to change his mind again if he ever feels unsure. I say this, because declaring he is trans has now really pushed the family to finally move to a larger city. You know your child, I don’t, if you know it’s impossible for them to use something like this to manipulate the family, I go along with you, but my fear is, that children can get themselves stuck in a situation they feel they can’t get out of. I’m not saying he is lying, I’m saying it might be more complicated than it seems on the surface.

I’m not assuming anything or judging anything, and I certainly don’t think there is necessarily reason for suspicion, I’m only saying I would want to somehow make sure my child knew I supported them, and it’s ok to change their mind. The tricky part is saying it so they don’t think you’re hoping they change their mind. Then the risk is they feel like they really aren’t being supported.

Aethelwine's avatar

I know my child very well, thank you. He knows he can come to me with anything. Suggesting to him that he come to me if he changes his mind would suggest to him that I’m not completely supportive. This did not happen over night for him. He thought this out very carefully. A teen comes out as trans when they finally have the courage to speak up. They thought about it long before they ever come out.

Honestly, your response has me shaking my head JLeslie.

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond Ok, like I said, I don’t know your child, you do. I trust you.

Aethelwine's avatar

@JLeslie I apologize if I came across as short. I felt this question could use an answer from a parent of a transgender child and I wanted to share information I have learned. I wasn’t looking for unsolicited advice.

I understand your intentions are good, but Jon and I are constantly judged now and it is getting exhausting. Our children are intelligent, kind and loved and our parenting has never been questioned until now. We now live in fear that a transphobic person could report us to family services. This is not uncommon for parents of transgender children. Just look at @Sneki’s first response. I don’t worry about the outcome, but the state does need to follow through and that is a scary situation for a child. A child who only wants to be accepted for who they are.

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond No apology needed, but thanks for coming back to the Q. I completely understand you are under incredible stress. I never thought for a second that the transgender issue has come up because of your parenting. I know you didn’t accuse me of that, I just want to be sure I make that statement.

I had thought that possibly your daughter (meaning before we learned she identifies as a he) was gay when you first started telling more about the problems that you were concerned about, and she fit some stereotypes, which can mean nothing of course, but I don’t think I even mentioned it to you, because I know just how open you are regarding the LGTB community. Every parent I know who is open like that, usually had an inkling about their kid way way before they came out. I have to admit transgender never occurred to me. I know many transgenders and transvestites, and still I realize now it isn’t something really in my mind so much.

If I were a parent I would be overwhelmed I’m sure, and knowing me, not handling it the best way possible. I do come from the perspective that kids simply almost never share everything. They over-worry about getting in trouble, angering their parents, or disappointing them. Like you said, it took your child a while to finally tell you. We saw this with Cruiser who had no idea his son was on the brink, and I believe him to be a great parent too.

I do believe most people when they finally declare they are gay or trans feel very sure, because it takes so much to say it, even when you believe your friends and family will be accepting. I also think it then, once said out loud, can become something you have to live up to, like it cements it.

Aethelwine's avatar

This was just posted by a parent in my support group. She asked that if we share this to not share directly from our group. It is her story about how her child came out at age 8 and the feelings her and her husband dealt with.

http://projects.sfchronicle.com/2017/transgender-child/

JLeslie's avatar

I heard Oregon just passed a third gender designation for state ID’s. Something like unspecified or I don’t remember exactly. First state to do it from what I understand. It got me wondering why is it even necessary to have gender on ID at all. In America we don’t put marital status, while in other countries it’s customary. Is it kind of the same?

I’m also reminded of one time I saw an interview with Ru Paul’s (I love him) sister, and she said from the time he was a very very young child he would put on dresses.

Barbara Walters has done special shows on transgender, you’ve probably seen them. I’ve seen her do so many interviews, but it was when I saw her do the transgender show that I really for the first time saw her as an incredibly understanding, open, person. I know she’s in an industry where there usually is a lot of understanding, but she seemed so passionate about trying influence society in a positive direction of acceptance.

Lastly, what always strikes me is how most family members go through mourning when the transgender person finally begins to transition. It’s a loss. Whether it’s a child, spouse, sibling, or another family member, the same person is there, but the picture of the relationship is now altered.

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