• Tag Archives transgender
  • Young Transgender Children, (Part 1).

    How old does your child have to be to know their true gender?

    There is no set age.  Most of the Transgender people I’ve worked with over the years knew as young as 4 years old that they were really the other gender.  A small percentage did not know till later in life and some knew they were not the natal gender but didn’t feel exactly to be the other gender either.  There can also be some confusion in a child about their gender and the confusion can last a long time.  It may be that over time the child will come to feel themselves to be one gender more than the other and it may be that the child will feel more comfortable somewhere between male or female, or even shift back and forth.  It’s also possible for the child’s confusion to be a reaction to feedback and wishes of the parents or other adults close to the child to be the gender they were born into.

    What things might a young (under 5 year old) child do or say about their gender?

    They might say things like “I’m really a girl”, or “I’m really a boy”, or wish for long hair, or not to have a penis (in boys).   They might ask when they will be “fixed” or if a “mistake” was made when they were born.   They might want to dress as the other sex and play with toys typically associated with the other sex.

    When signs are visible, natal (born as) boys might wear a towel or shirt to simulate long hair, might want to play dress up as a princess, play with dolls, wear sparkly shoes, and berets.  There are also many transgender (male to female) adults who never did these things and presented as stereotypical boys as young children.

    For transgender girls (Female to male), they may wear boys clothes, play rough and tumble games typical of boys (wrestling, etc), simulate war games, be comfortable playing with other boys, not want to wear dresses or play with dolls.  Also, as with boys, there are many transgender adults who as young girls did not appear particularly gender a-typical.

    Young children of course don’t have a vocabulary to describe who they are, but they might think in terms of “the same as”, as in “I am the same as Mommy”, or “I am the same as Daddy’.

     



  • A Parent gets some bad advice on Transgender Child

    How can things go wrong?

    I was browsing the web recently and came across this exchange on a forum for Catholic Families. (You can read the whole exchange here).  This is an example of bad advice readily available on the web by un-informed people regarding an adult transgender child.

    A Parent wrote:

    “Hello,  My daughter is 21 years old and today she announced to the family that she is transgender. She has always been athletic and not so feminine, but my wife and I had no idea that she was contemplating this. We just found out that she has already legally changed her name to a male name. She also said that she is taking testosterone injections and is planning to undergo a sex change procedure in July. We are a dedicated Catholic family and do not know how to handle this. She says that she believes in God, but at the same time how can she. My wife and I are very confused about what to do. Do we just blindly accept this, do we ask her to leave our household if she refuses to come to terms with this. We have 2 younger sons and I don’t know how to maintain a God centered life in our household with a blind acceptance of this. On the other hand I do not just want to kick her out of the house. We are planning on making her go to counseling, but what does a parent do if she refuses to accept that she is a woman. I am a very confused parent right now. I don’t want to rush into anything for fear of possibly doing something wrong. Anyhow, I would appreciate any feedback that anyone may have. Take care and God Bless “ April 2012.

    While some of the responses did suggest finding a support group, prayer (I have nothing against prayer), and finding resources, most responses were negative and alarming and were along the lines of “this is horrible, fix her, banish her, take control”  These are some of the responses that were listed: (I’ve edited them down)

    R1: “She announced this to her younger siblings too??? That should not have happened, and she should be chastised for doing that if in fact, she did announce in front of her younger siblings.  Who is going to pay for these hormone shots and her operations?…[]…She should go no further into this unless she has counseling to help her figure out what is driving this desire to become a … well…a mess!“

    R2: “[]…I would definitely say that you should have her leave your home if you have younger children at home. []… What a horrible situation!”

    R3: “Dr. Nicolosi…he is the only “long ball hitter” that I know of…he is on CA Radio nearly every month…practices in SOCAL area…he covers all aspects and all forms of sexual orientation issues…SSA primarily but I have heard him speak on Transgender orientation also.”

    [fyi Nicolosi does ‘reparative’ therapy on gay men – which 1. Doesn’t work  2. Is harmful  3. Is now illegal in California and 4. Has nothing to do with being Transgender]

    R4:  “Your daughter, clearly, is being advised and is receiving support from outside sources if she is already this far. But having had some contact with kids with gender issues, she is NOT in control nor is she feeling OK. She most likely is confused and freaked out, even if she is being defiant. “

    R5: “[].. If I were in your situation’ I’d try my hardest to convince my child to stop the hormone treatments right away and move heaven and earth to find a way for her to be able to live as a woman…”

    The responses (which are from April 2012!) point to a serious lack of information about what Transgenderism is.  The forum thread is now closed so this is my response to the parent – I hope it gets to him somehow.

    Dear Parent,

    I understand that your child just came out to you as Transgender.  This can be a confusing and scary time.  I think first off you are to be commended for reaching out for support and for information.  You realized you don’t know enough about this topic and so you are asking for information and advice – good for you.  You clearly love your “daughter” (I’ll refer to her as your daughter for now for clarity sake) and your sons and your family, again good.  You have a faith community – I think that’s great.  However, the responders seem to have responded out of fear and lack of information about Transgenderism.

    Your question of “Do we just blindly accept this” is a good one.  It implies a certain lack of information at the present time.  I think you already know the solution here – and that is to inform yourself as much as possible about what Transgenderism is.  Learn about it.  It is not a lifestyle choice; it is not something that anyone can influence another person to become.  It is a condition that one is born with, which causes great anxiety and turmoil and at some point – hopefully, that person is strong enough to grapple with it and make certain decisions.  No one could ever influence you to become the other gender – because you know yourself to be your gender – that’s how it is with your child – they know what their gender is – it’s just not the same as the biological sex they were born into – this is Transgenderism – and it’s a real condition.

    Another question: “do we ask her to leave our household if she refuses to come to terms with this.”  I think she has come to terms with it – alone, and has progressed to make some decisions about her life- in other words she has decided to transition.  For someone who is Transgendered – and living in the wrong gender – this is a reasonable and healthy solution.  In fact it is the only good solution for someone who is transgendered.  This is the consensus belief that the World Professional Association of Transgender Health WPATH has come to over many decades. (these are Doctors, Researchers, Therapists and other specialists working in the field today).

    It takes a lot of courage to share who she is with you and to have started on this road without your support and the support of your family. I mean no disrespect, but the “coming to terms with” is going to be more about your thinking and acceptance than your child’s.  Transgender youth have the highest suicide rates of any group – 49% have reported having thoughts about killing themselves.

    As to the issue of kicking her out of the house – why would you want to do that?  I imagine she was a pretty good child/sibling all these 21 years – yes?  She was also Transgendered all those years – you just didn’t know about it.  Why create a homeless young person and add to the issues she is facing at this point?  You write “We have 2 younger sons and I don’t know how to maintain a God centered life in our household with a blind acceptance of this”.  There are other Catholic Families that are dealing with this issue – they have support groups and information here:  Fortunate Families.

    You write “What does a parent do if she refuses to accept that she is a woman”?  She’s not.  He has told you that he’s a man.  This is the nature of Transgenderism.  One is born into one sex but is really the other sex.  I know it’s a lot to wrap your head around at first – but given your concern and questions – I think you will come to understand more about this and be able in time to accept your child for who he is.

    So my advice to you is – keep gaining knowledge and information, find some books, join a support group, take your time and go slow (as you have said).  Your child has had a long time to think about this and sort things out – you have only just learned about it and you can take your time too.  Your child has not done anything wrong or bad – he is just dealing with a little understood condition the best he can.  In the meantime – don’t try and force anything on your child – he is an adult and knows who he is, and it will only upset him and you.  Your younger sons are in no more danger than if they had a diabetic older sibling in need of appropriate treatment.   Good luck to you all.

    adult transgender child



  • How do you know if your child is Transgender?

    How do you know if your child is Transgender?

    There can be several signs present (or none at all), and the help of a knowledgeable gender therapist would be needed.  A therapist would use the following criteria from the DSM-IV:

    “A. A strong and persistent cross-gender identification (not merely a desire for any perceived cultural advantages of being the other sex). In children, the disturbance is manifested by four (or more) of the following: 

    (1) repeatedly stated desire to be, or insistence that he or she is, the other sex
    (2) in boys, preference for cross-dressing or simulating female attire; in girls, insistence on wearing only stereotypical masculine clothing
    (3) strong and persistent preferences for cross-sex roles in make-believe play or persistent fantasies of being the other sex
    (4) intense desire to participate in the stereotypical games and pastimes of the other sex
    (5) strong preference for playmates of the other sex. In adolescents and adults, the disturbance is manifested by symptoms such as a stated desire to be the other sex, frequent passing as the other sex, desire to live or be treated as the other sex, or the conviction that he or she has the typical feelings and reactions of the other sex. 

    B. Persistent discomfort with his or her sex or sense of inappropriateness in the gender role of that sex. In children, the disturbance is manifested by any of the following: in boys, assertion that his penis or testes are disgusting or will disappear or assertion that it would be better not to have a penis, or aversion toward rough-and-tumble play and rejection of male stereotypical toys, games, and activities; in girls, rejection of urinating in a sitting position, assertion that she has or will grow a penis, or assertion that she does not want to grow breasts or menstruate, or marked aversion toward normative feminine clothing. In adolescents and adults, the disturbance is manifested by symptoms such as preoccupation with getting rid of primary and secondary sex characteristics (e.g., request for hormones, surgery, or other procedures to physically alter sexual characteristics to simulate the other sex) or belief that he or she was born the wrong sex. 

    C. The disturbance is not concurrent with a physical intersex condition. 

    D. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.”

    I have also seen adults who ‘discover’ their gender issues as adults and those who kept their gender issues hidden as children, so that it is possible that a child may be transgender and never exhibit any of these criteria or keep them hidden.  It’s important to have a relationship with the child where open communication is possible so that they can be comfortable enough to reveal cross-gender feelings if they are having them.  It is also possible that once a child begins school they alter their behavior to be more in keeping with the other children, but the gender variance may persist.

     



  • Terms and Concepts about Transgender Children (Part 1)

    What is Transgender?

    Transgender can is often used as an umbrella term to signify all gender-variant people including transexual, gender queer, intersex, cross-dressers and others. A person is Transgender if they feel uncomfortable, uneasy and dissatisfied with the sex they were born into.  So, someone who was born male, but feels inside to be female, or someone who was born female, but feels inside to be male. This often results in anxiety, depression, restlessness, and other symptoms.  There is usually a strong wish to change one’s body and gender expression (how one presents to the world) to be more in keeping with what is felt to be one’s gender identity (the gender that one feels oneself to be).

    Very often transgender kids feel more like the other sex, but its also possible that they may eventually identify as ‘Gender Fluid’ or ‘Gender Queer’.  This means not identifying as entirely male or female.  ‘Transsexual’ is another (older) term that could also refer to cross-dressers and other gender variant people.

    What is Sex?

    When we’re talking about gender issues, sex refers to the physical state of male or female (which does not necessarily coincide with how one feels oneself to be).  One is usually born Male or Female (unless one is born intersex – in which case the sex can’t be determined at birth).  But in general, one’s sex is one’s physical body’s state of being male or female.

    What is Sexual Orientation?

    One’s Sexual Orientation or Sexual Preference or refers to who they are attracted to.  People attracted to the same sex usually identify as Gay and Lesbian.  Other terms that describe sexual preference are ‘heterosexual’ (attracted to the opposite sex), ‘homosexual (attracted to the same sex) and ‘bisexual’ (attracted to both sexes).

    What do these things mean? Gender Identity Disorder, Gender Dysphoria, Gender Incongruence, Gender Variance?

    These are all technical terms (jargon) that refer to the extremely uncomfortable feelings a Transgender person has about their gender.  More specifically  ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ – was the name of the condition used in the DSM-IV (the manual that mental health professionals use to diagnose disorders, you can see the entry here).  The new term in the ‘DSM-5’ will be Gender Dysphoria’.  Dysphoria is “An emotional state characterized by anxiety, depression, or unease 1.  Gender Incongruence was a new term suggested to replace ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ in the new DSM.  It refers to the incongruence between the biological sex a transgender person was born into and the gender that person feels oneself to be.  It was an awkward term at best and was dropped in favor of ‘Gender Dysphoria’.  ‘Gender Variance refers to “behavior or gender expression that does not conform to dominant gender norms of male and female. People who exhibit gender variance may be called gender variant, gender non-conforming, or gender atypical2.

    See also Terms and Concepts about Transgender Children (Part 2)

     

     transgender terms and concepts