Gender identity issues

(15 Posts)
TyrannosaurusMum Sat 17-Sep-16 14:07:29

Supportive advice needed please! This is a bit second-hand, but I'm after help for DH and our families...
Stepdaughter (nearly 17) has just admitted to her parents (with help of CAMHS counsellor) that she wants to be a boy. She has been dressing more & more like a 'typical' boy lately and just shaved off all her hair. Her mum had apparently suspected something like this, but didn't, I don't think, want to deal with it.
DH is knocked sideways. We had been half-expecting SD to come out as gay (big clues in interests, conversation etc), but this is a step further than he was ready for.
He has told his DD that he loves her & that he will support her whatever... we both agree the most important thing is that she feels loved and supported. But inside he is majorly freaking out - he is quite conservative.
Really, I'm after some advice on:
- how to support SD (though CAMHS have referred her to gender counselling). I think she wants to be addressed as a boy now.
- how to support DH
- how to help DH tell his family, & mine
- how/what to tell our DSs (2.5yrs & 4yrs)

marvelousdcomics Sat 17-Sep-16 17:31:29

I'm going through this with dd(14) at the moment. She came out as gay 2 weeks ago but has said she wants to be a boy, however we are taking it slowly due to the presence of EDs.

If your SD is transgender, and she begins transitioning, she will need a lot of emotional support. It is a deeply gruelling journey that will require lots of love and reassurance. Use her preferred name/pronouns too. I know its very sudden and shocking, and it may take your DH time to get used to it. Tell him that this is a very important thing for SD and that it is almost impossible to understand how she may be feeling, so it is important to continue to support her. As to how to tell your family and your DHs, I would just say it matter of factly - "SD has been feeling differently for a long time, and it would mean a lot if you could support her. She is transgender, would appreciate the correct pronouns etc. Remember she is the same person but will be happier now." Something like that. As for the kids, I don't think they need to know right now. As they get older and if they ask about it just tell them "SD was born a girl, but it felt wrong and she wasn't happy so she decided she wanted to live as who she really is - a boy." Just ease them into it when it is an appropriate time.

She may not be trans after all. I think it is important to understand there is a difference between saying she wants to be a boy, and that she IS a boy. Many masculine females/tomboys are being influenced to believe that they are trans, and they aren't. This is supported by the increasing number of detransitioning women. It is perfectly fine to be a masculine female, it is perfectly normal.

However, if SD is in fact transgender and she chooses to transition, I would support her fully as I do all transgender people. She will still be the same person, and will need a huge amount of support. Good luck OP.

TyrannosaurusMum Sat 17-Sep-16 18:42:04

Thank you Marvelous - I've read your thread too.
DH & I have wondered to ourselves whether it is a gender issue, or a sexuality issue... or a late-teen overall identity issue. I certainly understand the need to support whatever.
She won't get an appointment at the gender clinic for 14mths apparently, though she's still under CAMHS... I presume they will help her understand what she is/wants to be. But we also realise that challenging it might back her into a corner.
Do you think that transgender has become such a current issue that many confused teens are jumping on it as an answer?
We clearly need to do a lot of reading! Is there anything you'd recommend?
Good luck to you & your DD

TyrannosaurusMum Sat 17-Sep-16 18:47:48

Is it also alright to suggest to SD that she doesn't have to conform to any gender, that she can wear what she wants, be called what she wants etc. while she figures out what she wants?

WinchesterWoman Sat 17-Sep-16 18:53:34

Hi there. Just want to offer some support. Are you relieved that there's no appointment for 14 months? Because physical transition has such enormous implications.

I do know that there are videos, many, too many, online of women who are detransitioning after having quite radical surgery, and hormone treatment and living with the consequences.

Can your husband talk to her about it being fine to do everything in the 'male' stereotype - everything from dress to bulking up with weights to hairstyles to everything - without actually being male? Why shouldn't a woman do those things? I also read a powerful account of a woman who discussed this with a young 'butch' lesbian she knew, who was under pressure to trans and thought she might go that route. This woman said she thought it would be a terrible shame because womanhood would lose such a brilliant member, such a brilliant example. Apparently the young person really took it to heart. (she did not trans in the end).

Also I could be talking out of my hat here, but I would not trust any NHS health or mental health officer on this issue right now. I would fear that they would be the trans line because it's just everywhere right now, and they've been trained by very, very pro-transgender organisations on how to respond to struggling teens.

marvelousdcomics Sat 17-Sep-16 18:57:28

Hi again. Yes, I do think that being transgender has indeed become such a known current 'thing' that so many teens are quick to label themselves, when in fact they aren't. Many children/adolescents who believe they are transgender actually turn out to be gay (I think the figure is 87%). It's also frightening how people can be influenced into believing they are something that they are not. I recently watched a detransitioned woman's youtube video and she said "the idea of being transgender because I didn't like my body was repeated so many times that I believed I was a man. In fact, I was just running from myself and not solving the real problems." She ended up being a lesbian, but unfortunately shed already taken testosterone for 3 years and had top surgery. That's why I'm so conscious to take it slowly with dd. I would recommend the website that was recommended to me - transgendertrend. Its very eye opening.

And yes, I would suggest that SD doesn't label herself, wears what she wants, does what she wants for however long she wants until she figures everything out. If she rushes into anything now she could seriously regret it. Show support no matter what she chooses.

TyrannosaurusMum Sat 17-Sep-16 19:12:25

Thank you - you are awesome.
DH can be so conservative about some things; I'm realising a need to nudge him to read/watch/ask. I may well show him this thread...
I can sort of see your point about the NHS being so pro-transgender at the moment. I was hoping that they'd give her the space to explore her feelings, but maybe they'll jump on her first thoughts & almost push her into the trans pigeonhole.
Yes, I suppose it could be a good thing that the gender clinic is a good year away...
I know she is nearly an adult (it must be even harder for younger teens or children), but she is still so young and, while very over-internetted (I am sure she is not monitored in any way by her DM), still quite naïve about actual feelings & emotions. She has never been a very emotionally-sharing child (her father needs prodding & I don't think her mother is very forthcoming) so we have never had much idea of how she feels.
As I said before, I am only her (well-meaning) stepmother, so don't always get the full picture. Until I can chat to her (if she wants to), I don't really know everything. But will take your advice so far.

YoureaFlutteringCunt Sat 17-Sep-16 19:16:35


I just wanted to offer my support. My partner is on the trans spectrum and is the most lovinv, caring, fantastic person I have ever met.
They knew since very young that they didn't feel 100% comfortable as a 'woman'.
And being on the trans spectrum doesn't necessarily mean hormone treatments etc...
But counselling is a good idea to find out where your child is mentally before addressing anythibg physical.

The most important thing is to be supportive and respect your childs wishes. Even if they change as they explore these feelings.

marvelousdcomics Sat 17-Sep-16 19:21:37

I think the most important thing right now is to talk to her, with your DH too. Before anything else happens, that's what needs to. Ask her how/what she feels, why she thinks she feels like that etc. This is a big decision and will require SD to be open about how she feels. After today with my DD, she doesn't feel as 'trans' as she thought. A lot of the time, teens try to cover up any other problems with different things (in this case, gender identity). My DD today seems happy being who she is - a 14 year old girl who prefers 'masculine' things. It is a tough subject - me and dd talked for ages this morning, with hugs, tears, the lot, but its getting better because we're being open - that's the most important thing.

marvelousdcomics Sat 17-Sep-16 19:23:04

I'm also with Yourea too - I know a lovely FtM transgender man. He's amazing, and has too known since he was young. As I've said before, just support SD for whoever she is.

RiverTam Sat 17-Sep-16 19:38:13

I think it is absolutely all right to tell your DSD that she can dress as she likes, have her hair as she likes and have whatever interests she likes without having to be transgender. People, especially on things like Tumblr (if at all possible please keep her off tumblr!) are forever conflating sex with gender and gender with personality.

I think keeping an open dialogue is key (though don't be so open minded that your brains fall out) but some facts might not go amiss either. It is simply not possible to change sex. One can go on medication for life, with some extremely unpleasant side effects, and one can have non-medical surgery which may or may not be reversible. But a female cannot become male. And none of that may actually make the person feel any better about themselves.

Have a look at JenBob's videos on YouTube, she is MTT, very open and honest about transition. And have a look at Gender Critical Dad's blog.

There is a very good chance that she will turn out to be a lesbian. In the meantime I would see if you can find out what it is about being a woman that she's finding hard and wants to step away from. Life for young women, in an increasingly pornified and gender stereotypes world, doesn't sound great to me. But a supportive, sensible ear that doesn't aim to put her into a box is probably what she needs right now.

ChocolateJam Thu 22-Sep-16 17:07:22

There was a poster called Floundering who had a very long running thread on the Teenagers board about her DD transitioning, it makes for interesting reading. I've also found lots of usual information on this blog:

TyrannosaurusMum Thu 22-Sep-16 18:03:51

Thanks for those, Chocolate - how do I go about finding that thread/poster?

ChocolateJam Fri 23-Sep-16 14:53:02

You use the Advanced Search button above. I found it for you:

TyrannosaurusMum Sat 24-Sep-16 07:55:52

Got it; thanks smile

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