This explores some of the issues faced by Transgender teens who are not “out” and are presenting in the ‘natal’ gender.
Gay or Trans?
Teenage years are a time when one struggles with identity questions, and for Transgender teens the struggle has added dimensions of complication. In past times, when the concept of ‘Transgender’ was not as well known, many Trans individuals thought of themselves as Gay or Lesbian, only later coming to the realization that that identity wasn’t quite right. (Chaz Bono is a famous trans man who identified as Lesbian as a teen). Nowadays, Teens are more aware of there being Transgender people in the world – thanks to brave people like Chaz and TV shows like ‘Glee’ that depict out-trans characters.
Transgender Teenagers who have not had the medical intervention of Puberty Blockers (see my earlier post) are now feeling the full effect of their bodies changing in ways that are in conflict, or dissonant to who they feel themselves to be. There can be increased depression, desperation and bewilderment at what is often thought of as a ‘betrayal’ of their bodies. There has often been ‘magical thinking’ as a younger child that one is the other sex, but with the physical changes, this is no longer possible.
Trans teens who had not had medical intervention and who are without family are at risk for: HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, depression, violence and harassment, homelessness and suicide.
What you can Do
The best possible intervention is to begin a supportive dialogue with the teen. Be open and accepting about what they are saying about their gender. Educate yourself about Transgender issues and treatment options and be an ally with them to find a therapist, a doctor and a support group for yourself and your Teen. Talk to the school about the Teen’s needs, or find a school situation that would work for them. Don’t criticize or shame them about their gender. One’s gender is not a choice, it’s part of who we are.