Can we have an informal chat about TRANSGENDER issues in Primary school children?

(71 Posts)

We had a letter home from school today advising parents to watch a programme on tv this evening about transgender and transexuality, in relation to children. The letter was from the parents of a boy in year 4, who feels he is a girl in the wrong body, asking for understanding for their child and the problems he/she is facing, physcially and emotionally from now on. The letter said that statistically 1 in 4 transgender children commit suicide before adulthood, and a gender corrective operation is on the agenda for this child.

I have never had to ponder this particular issue, and I am keen to get some perspective on how to talk to my own son about it.

I remember this boy from before, the staff was referring to him (or she) as very camp and very gay. The letter said his condition should not be confused with homosexuality, as this was secondary to the entire issue, like a "side effect".

I asked my son if he knew we had a letter home from school, and what it was about and he said "sure it is about Peter in year 4 who is really supposed to be in a girls body". Pretty straight foreward so far, but I assume as the letter has gone out today, the programme is on tonight it is for sure the talk of the school the next few days/weeks.

Opinions?

claraquack Tue 19-Jan-10 16:26:38

What the? Sorry but year4 makes him how old? Mine haven't started school yet so not sure of ages. But surely too young to know this already????

Year 4 here are 10 / 11 year old (we start school at 6 here)

fernie3 Tue 19-Jan-10 16:30:18

I think its great that both the parents and the school are trying to educate people about this BUTI worry that so much attention on him may single him out even more.

claraquack Tue 19-Jan-10 16:32:33

All sounds a bit ridiculously pc to me but perhaps I am behind the times.

iheartdusty Tue 19-Jan-10 16:40:02

well clara, let's hope your DC don't have any issues around their sense of identity then. What an unhelpful post.

southeastastra Tue 19-Jan-10 16:41:31

ooh i read a really good book about a bloke who was transgender, he knew from a really young age that he was in the wrong body. was really interesting. there was also a documentary about him with a less than helpful nhs doctor.

FabIsGoingToBeFabIn2010 Tue 19-Jan-10 16:46:16

My son is year four and the children are 8/9 in his year.

I wouldn't watch the program or talk to my son about it - unless he asked specific questions.

I wouldn't have any problem watching it and talking to DD (10) or DS (11) about it.

What I would be more hmm at is "Peter" knowing he was transgender at 10, but then I have little experience of transgenderism so afaik that might be normal. And I would personally be angry at the staff referring to him as "very gay", how unprofessional and just downright inaccurate.

NorbertDentressangle Tue 19-Jan-10 16:53:46

My gut reaction is that its probably a good way of dealing with things, although I don't have any experience of this.

The programme (which the parents of the child in school have presumably seen and found positive in its approach) will presumably "educate" the parents of the other children in the school, dispel myths, answer questions they may have etc.

It brings it out into the open and will hopefully avoid the whispering behind backs as people notice how this child is different (you said the teachers have already made comments about his "campness" etc).

Actually its just reminded me of a situation from years ago -my male GP who had a full sex change. He sent a letter out to all patients explaining everything, how he would be dressing and living as a woman for x months, later having surgery etc. It avoided the local paper running a " shocked exclusive" and patients wondering what was going on when Dr X started looking different. No doubt there were still some pateints who had a problem with it but the GP had been open and honest and tried their hardest to make the transition smoothly.

What age is your own son? I'd look at the listing for the documentary and decide whether it sounded a suitable level - this family may be thinking from their own perspective that it is suitable for 10/11 yo but if your son is younger then it might not be so suitable for him.

Whether or not he watches it, you can have a fairly low-key conversation about the general "being nice/not bullying" issue, but it sounds from his comments that he's not that bothered by the whole concept.

claraquack Tue 19-Jan-10 18:18:36

iheartdusty - really? she asked for opinion, I gave it. And I suspect that that is probably what about ninety per cent of people would say if you asked them on the street. Just because it is different from your opinion why is that so unhelpful?

Sorry but transgender issues in primary school? Can't we let children be children for a bit longer?

However. like I said I am probably totally behind the times and maybe 10-year-old pre-pubescents know a lot more about themselves than I give them credit for.

Acanthus Tue 19-Jan-10 18:20:22

I'd watch it myself, then decide whather to show DS

AitchTwoOhOneOh Tue 19-Jan-10 18:22:22

i think the parents are handling it well, tbh. there was a doco on before christmas, young kids completely consistent in their opinion that they were wrongly identified as girls/boys.
my dd1 is deffo a girl, is fond of saying that she is etc, i can't imagine how confusing it must be for a child who felt as strongly as she does but who everyone else saw as a boy.

nickschick Tue 19-Jan-10 18:23:29

I think its sad that we cannot support a young child with what is clearly a very emotive issue without such negativity.

I have always tried to very open with my dc and as a result I think I have 3 well informed dc.

Id be pleased that your son already understands and accepts the child for who he is -perhaps its mainly to educate the parents?

RubysReturn Tue 19-Jan-10 18:23:59

I have a vague feeling that transgender issues are paid more attention to these days before puberty, as it is possible to delay puberty for boys->girls using hormones - temporarily at least until they are old/mature enough to make permanent decisions that don't leave them 6' 4" with huge hands and feet and would be unlikely to make reassignement convincing, so maybe that is why it is being raised.

tbh it sounds as if your ds knows what he needs to know already to me.

TotalChaos Tue 19-Jan-10 18:28:28

sounds like your DS doesn't really need further discussion - sounds like he's taking the info about the boy is his stride, in a matter of fact way. I would watch the TV programme, but not let your DS see it unless you think it will be suitable/informative.

sugartits Tue 19-Jan-10 18:35:51

I think that the parents of this child sound great, they surely wouldn't get to the point of talking to the school let alone all the parents unless they were absolutely convinced it was the right thing to do. As we are always telling parents that they know their child best then I'd assume that they had very good reason for exploring this issue.

I also think that children of this age are very accepting we have some good friends who used to live next door who are gay. Our dc's know they are a same sex couple who love each other - no problems. Knowing this isn't going to affect their sexuality. So, in a similar vein I'd only explain it to my dc in the brilliant way that the op's son explained it to her.

I really cannot see why this would be an issue.

wannaBe Tue 19-Jan-10 18:43:37

well, nothing wrong with being supportive of one's child and how he/she feels and asking for support from the school. But I cannot understand why any parent would want to put their child through having a documentary made about what is essentially one of the most difficult things he will ever have to deal with in his life. I can't comprehend why any parent would do that.

tethersend Tue 19-Jan-10 19:03:20

I have taught a transgender child (a girl who felt (s)he was living in the wrong body) and he was the one of the most complex cases I have ever seen. Parents were in complete denial, teachers didn't know how to handle it, and he withdrew completely into himself.

Other children were completely unfazed by it. Children never fail to astound me with their level of acceptance and capability to understand; they made the adults look like a bunch of bumbling idiots.

This child- and I am convinced other transgender children- knew he was in the wrong body from a very early age, and dressed as a boy from the time he could express an opinion.

It sounds to me as if this child's parents and the school are handling this well.

mamazon Tue 19-Jan-10 19:07:47

my daughter is 5 and she knows very clearly that she is a girl.

why is it so difficult to understand that an 8/9 yeasr old would also feel that they are male or female, despite what their body tells them.

such an ignorant view.

I hope you do watch the tv show and i hope it helps you understand how this girl feels.

I would also hope that your son continues to be so fabulously ok with it all.

AitchTwoOhOneOh Tue 19-Jan-10 19:09:43

quint, do you have the programme info on the show, from the newspaper? i bet it's the same show that was on here before christmas. it was really good, well worth a watch, nothing remotely disturbing, all very matter of fact and the children w(who had been allowed to dress for their true gender for a while) were just completely compelling and at the same time ordinary. watch it and then see if you think it's suitable for him, i'm not sure how old year 4 is.

I missed the first few minutes of the beginning of the programme, as I was at my parents with ds2, but it seems it is an American production, the kids are called Kai and Josie, do you reckon it is the same you saw before Christmas?
So far it seems good and informative. I will watch it on my own, and see if we can find it on I player or somewhere, if it seems ok for my 7 year old son to watch. Commercials are over, so I will be back later. smile

JeremyVile Tue 19-Jan-10 20:10:22

Yeah, its the same one.
Nicely done iirc.

Horton Tue 19-Jan-10 20:31:06

I can absolutely see why you'd let your transgendered child take part in a documentary like that. Presumably the parents would think that the more open we can be about such issues and the more knowledge people have instead of ill-informed prejudice the better the outcome and lives of all children who are struggling with such issues. It must be an enormously hard thing to tackle and good on them for opening up their lives to people who may never have encountered this issue in their daily lives. Hopefully some who watch it will be kinder to someone with the same issues in the future.

As for the OP, I wouldn't have a problem with letting a child watch something like that. It might help them in exactly the same way that it would help anyone else who saw it by demystifying and explaining and making it more 'normal'. Your son sounds like a credit to you with his matter of fact acceptance of the issue - well done on bringing up such an open-minded little boy!

Horton Tue 19-Jan-10 20:36:35

Also, I think 'let children be children' is an unhelpful comment. This isn't about sex but about identity. Most children seem to be very clear about which gender they are (and who they feel they are) well before they have any understanding of sex or relationships or other more adult issues. My three year old is quite clear that she is a girl and some of her friends are boys and they have a willy and she has a vagina etc etc. It doesn't mean she is thinking inappropriately about any of this. As I understand it, it is very normal for children to start to work out how their bodies relate to their image of themselves etc. Presumably at age 10 or 11 her ideas of it will be much more elaborate and much more entrenched as part of who she is.

SleighGirl Tue 19-Jan-10 20:43:33

I think children are far more perceptive than we give them credit for.

With transgender perhaps a very simple situation is that when they were in the womb their body wasn't made the way it was supposed to be, just like some people have extra toes or have turners syndrome the make up if their body is different to other peoples.

I hope the community shows some tolerance and understanding of the child in question.

Hope it's a bit warmer this week where you are Quint!

LadyG Tue 19-Jan-10 20:52:34

It sounds as if the school and parents are dealing with it well. I would probably only ask mine to watch it if they were in that year or seemed interested or confused (asking lots of questions etc). Slightly off-topic but does anyone remember seeing that sweet French film Ma Vie en Rose about a little boy that thought he should have been a girl?
I thought that dealt with the whole thing very well.

Having seen the whole programe, I have no problems letting him watch it. I think he can cope with it.

The "camp" and "gay" comments happened two years ago, when the child was 8/9. He then said openly that he was gay. I remember my son talking about the gay boy in school. I suppose, at the time, "gay" was the most fitting identity this child found for him/herself, and as time has gone by, they have realized it is not just about preferring boys to girls, it is about feeling like he is a girl.

My son came upstairs and sat down to watch the last part with me. He said he could not sleep when there was something on tv about a child in his school. (due to a really strange class divisions here across age and year groups, and starting in March the school year before rather than in August, he was in this boys class the entire spring term, prior to starting year one, it is complicated, dont ask. So, he knew this class better than most of the year 2 boys)

I asked him to tell me about "Peter", and he said, "well, he plays with a group of girls, he has longish hair, tied with ribbons, or clips. Sometimes he wears girly clothes, sometimes he doesnt".

LadyG, yes, I remember ma vie an rose, I saw it when I was in my early twenties, with a group of gay (male and female friends).

Horton, thank you that is a very nice comment. I have such parenting dilemmas and troubles at the moment, your comment really warmed. smile

Blu Tue 19-Jan-10 21:52:23

I would watch the programme in order to be as informed as possible for any q's DS might ask, or things he might say. (but i saw one or two of them before Christmas - very very interesting and enlihgtening)

Clara, if you watch the prog you might find that some of your assumptions are not correct, and you might find it interesting. I imagine that one of the things the parents of the child in Quint's school are dealing with are people who have a set idea about the whole thing which is unsympathetic.

AitchTwoOhOneOh Tue 19-Jan-10 23:55:15

kai and josie, yes, that's the same show. i really found it interesting, and was impressed by the parents' approach.

I have several transgendered friends all of whom say they knew from a very young age that their bodies didn't match their brains/selves. Because something is rare is not a good reason for hiding it and pretending it doesn't happen, or that the people dealing with it are liars/attention seekers /'polictial correctness gone mad'.

Gender isn't binary. It's perfectly possible for people to be born hermaphrodites and many, many people are born with some blurring of sexual characteristics, some muddling of chromosomes - in a lot of cases they only discover this when they want to have DC, but in plenty of others, given that the usual medical policy is to toss a coin advise the parents to bring the DC up as a boy or girl and seek hormone treatment later, there is a lot of confusion and misery.
A substantial percentage of the male/female divide is of course socially-constructed and about hierarchy rather than biology, but that doesn't alter the fact that people can be born with their minds heading in one direction and their bodies heading in another.

Good post solid, in Thailand there is a greater than average number of transgendered individuals. They are known as Khatoey or the third sex. I read a very intersting book about this group, virtually all knew from being 6 or younger that they were in the wrong body. Khatoey are accepted genrally with the majority wearing subtle make up and getting on quietly with their lives. One khatoey worked on the desk in our bank. Very few opt for the gender reasingment, possible due to costs. On the whole, the boys start taking hormones very young, age 9 is the one most quoted. This is because they are available over the counter.
The child in question is very lucky to have such supportive parents.

malovitt Wed 20-Jan-10 07:37:56

NorbertDentressangle - are you in the south-east?

My male GP had a full sex change too, although it was a good few years ago now...

good post,SGB

Kreecher: I wonder if it's a greater number or just that the Thais are sufficiently accepting of it for the transgendered/intersexual/gender dysphoric not to have to agonise for years about being 'wrong' or 'wierd' before feeling able to tell their families and seek treatment.

Solid, it is a greater number, nothing to do with acceptance or tolerance. If I had the book still, I'd be able to give you an accurate number, from memory it is around 7%.
My favourite 'girl' was the one in the petrol station near our flat. Some days she was very glam, some days just normally girly and on her off days had just put a head band on.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 20-Jan-10 09:52:32

I was quite hmm at the negative comments earlier in this thread. The 'let children be children' comment is a peculiarly adult perspective that confuses gender with sexuality. This is about someone who is convinced that she's a girl being a girl. To have a happy childhood she needs support in this - which fortunately in this case seems to be forthcoming. As others have said, transsexuals often know from a very young age that they are in the wrong bodies - its not something related to puberty and sexual awakening.

hobbgoblin Wed 20-Jan-10 10:01:00

clara, until what age would you prefer a transgender child to wait before you deemed their admission acceptable to your delicate ears?

I doubt that whilst this inner body versus mind confusion goes on the poor child is having a fab old childhood anyway. The least any of his peers and educators can do is try and understand and show compassion which I suspect is exactly what this letter is aiming for.

Though a proportion of people on the street might be fuckwitted, I doubt 9 out of 10 of them are.

Ohh I was reading something about this in the news, basically its becoming more and more common and scientists are starting to think that something we are being exposed to chemical wise is interfering with the baby's development in early stages and particulary with boys development.

Not sure what I think of that explanation but its interesting.

tartyhighheels Wed 20-Jan-10 10:24:10

If it is the same one as was on before Christmas, I thought the programme was really great. My 8 year old daughter watched a bit of it and she seemed to make sense of it. We have very butchy lesbian mate, who doesn't have gender issues but looks very blokey - i had to explain the difference to the DD and she took it all in her stride.

In my husbands family there is a member who has gender issues, he still lives daily as a man and secretly as a woman and has a male partner. He doesn't know we know this and sometimes I feel I should speak to him about it but I am not close to him and feel that it isn't appropriate. My husband tells me that when they we all growing up that the boys Mummy knew something was up but this was the 70's so nothing was done. If you met him, you would sense something is out of whack for him and I think that this is dreadfully sad as clearly he's no idea where to turn. Sadly, given lots of oppotunities this man has ostensibly failed to achieve and is not too happy - I wonder how different things would have been 3o years on?

It is amazing to hear that the school and indeed this child's parents have grasped the nettle so to speak, because this is not a choice for people, it is biology. It is also heartening to hear on this forum that so many people seem very open and receptive to the idea which can only be good for all of us to live in a tolerant society which should start in the home and school.

There are so many good posts on this thread.
Clara, you are right, your opinion is likely to be that of the majority, especially in a small provincial town, which is why it is such a good idea by the school and the parents to send out the letter and try educate people.

Clara, I think it is important to recognise that for this child, it has nothing to do with sex, or romance. It is about wanting long hair, nice hairclips, play with barbie dolls, read about ponies, and generally do what girls do, with her girl friends, and having the kind of child hood that girls have. Wanting to be a mum one day, even.

And I think therein lies part of the headahce, these children are never going to have straighforwared teenage years, romance, first love, and fast forward to parenthood.
It must be so hard for the parents. To see their child suffer, see that there is something unusual, and slowly unravel the thruth, and help the child on his/her identity journey.

I really wonder if the letter was such a good idea. As soon as you MAKE an issue, it becomes an issue. My son was not bothered about "Peter" he took the situation pretty much at face value and accepted the truth in that "Peter" should really be in a girls body. I wonder if this is also the case now, when the issue has been highlighted.

scarletlilybug Wed 20-Jan-10 10:32:50

It is not uncommon for childrten to "grow out of" gender dysphoria.

"Often, children do grow out of gender dysphoria. Only a small number of children continue to feel the same way in later adolescence." From the Mind website.

AitchTwoOhOneOh Wed 20-Jan-10 10:37:32

nah, i disagree. better that everyone in the community is fore-warned and any questions are answered before puberty strikes the other kids and they start getting really catty. it may be that they'll delay puberty in peter's case.

there's also really interesting stuff on david reimer, not the best doc but gives the gist, whose penis was injured during cirumcision as a small baby, and he was raised as Brenda. He was miserable and confused, by all accounts, and went back to being david when older. poor guy committed suicide not long ago.

Aitch - there was one sentence in the letter that stood out "by now all the children at xxx school and many of the parents have discovered that there is a child with gender identity issues ..."

AitchTwoOhOneOh Wed 20-Jan-10 10:47:23

yes, so they're taking control of the 'story' iykwim? they must be going through HELL, poor parents.

NorbertDentressangle Wed 20-Jan-10 10:55:49

malovitt -I don't live there now but (I'll be cryptic in case you don't want to out where you live) it was a modern purpose built Health Centre, called St B's on a road called M. Way, just off C Rd. This was about 9/10 years ago I think as I remember seeing said GP with DD when she was a baby.

We actually also had a gp who did a gender transformation at our local health centre. It was also done over time. She contacted her local newspaper, explaining what would happen, so the whole town knew about it. She also explained that she had known she was in the wrong body since she was a child.

It is actually interesting to read what scarletlilybug says about growing out of gender dysphoria. Thanks for the link!

What happens if you set yourself on track for a gender transformation from an early age, and the later, realize it was just a phase and you mourn the body you lost, wishing you hadnt done it?

I am hoping, as the doctor at our local health centre has gone through it herself, that these parents are getting all the help and support they need.

Lancelottie Wed 20-Jan-10 11:21:14

' It is about wanting long hair, nice hairclips, play with barbie dolls, read about ponies, and generally do what girls do, with her girl friends, and having the kind of child hood that girls have.'

Quint, you've just described my 11-yr-old son, who is currently not happy in his skin, and who I've long assumed is gay. He's quite a private and intense child, so it could be that there's more to it than we've thought. We do know one (fully) transgendered individual and sadly she isn't a shining example of a transformed and happy life -- though obviously one person's experience is not much to go on.

Your son sounds like he takes people as they are (was he the one who went for some pretty plain speaking at a 'mean child's' birthday party last week?), so good on him!

Lancelottie, did you see the program? It is called "Transgender children - age 8 and wanting a sex change". Maybe you could try and watch it with him, and see what he says?

Yes, that was my outspoken son. Amazingly, the other boy wanted to play with him at breaktime the next day...

AitchTwoOhOneOh Wed 20-Jan-10 11:36:08

i think that the whole point of acting before puberty, quint, is to delay the onset of bodily changes. meanwhile the child is still growing older and more mature, so can still change his or her mind. i believe that taking hormones to promote change to the preferred gender is not done at all lightly, and certainly any surgery comes much later.

scarletlilybug Wed 20-Jan-10 11:39:59

Interestingly, of those boys who "grow out of" childhood gender dysphoria, the majority go on to identify as homosexual. One study (don't have time to track it down at present - will post linl later if I remember) found 12 out of 16 boys who had childhood gender dysphoria went on to identify as homosexual, having "grown out of" their gender issues. From memory, the majority remained quite effeminate, too, whether or not they were homosexual.

Jux Wed 20-Jan-10 13:05:17

We live in a small town. One of the shopkeepers is going through gender reassignment atm. People here are very accepting - maybe it's just luck, but I think it's because it's a small town and everyone knows everyone else at least a bit.

Our friend has a wife and 3 children. Before s/he started the process, s/he and his wife went to the school and explained it to them, then the teachers explained it to the pupils, who explained it to their parents! There doesn't seem to have been any backlash, she picks up the kids from school, and the other mothers are perfectly normal with her.

She and her wife are staying together for the foreseeable future. The children are lovely, polite, bright, pretty well-balanced.

I am really proud of our town; I have not heard one adverse comment from adults or children about it. Everyone has adapted quite happily to the new name, the new she/her (though sometimes, in the early days, it was easy to forget).

I wish 'Peter' and her parents well with all my heart.

gladders Wed 20-Jan-10 15:04:53

fwiw i was a real tomboy and desperately wanted to be a boy from about age 5 til about age 9. for me it was just a stage....

i think it's great that people are being open about this one child - and the documentary everyone's referring to is an interesting one. the one thing that alarmed me in the programme was that these kids (in the US) are receiving medical intervention (hormones) at sucha young age.

OI know there are stats about transgender suicides and also that it is better physically to intervene before puberty, but really - these kids are so young? nif at age 8 i'd been asked to decide i might well have opted to be male?

I see where you are coming from Gladders.

A child does not have the maturity to know what will be best in the future. There are so many outcomes! Life as a gay man/woman, life as a heterosexual person in the body he/she was born with (but with a genderdysmorhpic stage in childhood), Life after a gender change, Life without without a gender change, and the possible regrets of doing either. Who is to say what would be the happiest?

I think that doctors etc who specialise in gender issues generally do know the difference between a child with serious gender dysphoria and a child who wants the social/surface aspects of the other gender role. A little girl who loves Top Gear and football and a little boy who wants a set of Bratz dolls aren't necessarily grappling with gender dysphoria.

However, I wouldn't be at all surpised if the current awful trend towards rigid gender stereotyping in children doesn't bring out a lot of mild gender uneasiness in the next decade or so.

claraquack Wed 20-Jan-10 15:50:20

I wasn't going to come back to this thread as it will make me cross but I will say that I have no problem in beign told I am wrong and am interested to hear some of the opinions, even if I still don't agree with them necessarily. I can't watch the programme as we are not in the UK. I am a liberal, open-minded person and don't have a problem with gender changes in adults etc, I am not just not convinced that a child that age knows for sure and was shocked by the words primary school and transgender being in the same sentence.

However I do object to be called a "fuckwit" by one of the posters. Thanks. Very nice. Sorry if my opinions are different to yours but why does that make me a fuckwit?

Wilful ignorance (ignoring facts that contradict your prejudices) and bigotry - thinking that people who are dissimilar to you are bad or wrong - does kind of make you a fuckwit.
FWIW you're not alone. But thinking that transgendered people are bad and shouldn't be mentioned is a fairly reliable stupidity-indicator.

claraquack Wed 20-Jan-10 16:06:50

Did I say transgender people are bad and should not be mentioned?

I would say you are as bigoted as me by your explanation, as I am obviously different from you.

hobbgoblin Wed 20-Jan-10 17:03:41

You did actually say that you thought Y4 children too young to know about this sort of thing. From this I presume you feel that sexual identity should not be mentioned to anyone under a certain age and yet we are talking about a child of this age with these issues which makes you sound very unaccepting - as though you prefer to discriminate against others based upon the world you would prefer as opposed to the world that is. I think this puts you more in the bigoted camp than the anti-discriminatory one to be honest.

I didn't say you were a fuckwit but you were bold enough to suggest that 9 out of 10 people were probably as thoughtless and unkind in their thinking as you. I disagree. Though there are many people who prefer to live in fluffyville, there are also more than 1 percent of us who are tolerant, accepting and who care about people other than themselves.

Fuckwitted is poor vocabulary. Ignorant, selfish and blinkered might have been better.

scarletlilybug Wed 20-Jan-10 17:20:54

I think evidence suggests that year 4 children are indeed too young to know for certain that they have gender dysphoria, given that the majority "grow out of it".

If a child has never come across it in RL, I don't see that they particularly need to be educated about it unless the subject matter somehow arises naturally - perhaps from something they see on the TV.

My concern with parents openly labelling "Peter" as gender dysphoric at such a young age is that it may well make it more difficult for him to "back down" if he goes on to change his mind. I imagine his parents will have considered this possibility befre going public and made what they considered to be the best decision in the circumstances. Other parents might have come to a different decision. Whether any such decision ultimately turns out to have been the "right" one may well be something which it will be possible to judge only in retrospect.

RollBaubleUnderTree Wed 20-Jan-10 17:30:18

There was a biological girl living as a boy at my sixth form college about 20 years. He was not particuarly boyish looking, has a large chest so it must have been so hard. Looking back it is amazing how accepting everyone was. He used the boys loos, played football with his mates every break. Never saw him getting any abuse although I am sure he must have.

I remember thinking his parents must have been very brave.

Bear in mind that Y4 in the uk are two years younger than Y4 here, as we start school at 6. The child in question is 10/11 years old, not 8/9 - not sure if this makes a difference.

My 7 year old boy has been "in love" with girls since he was 5. "Peter" has openly been "in love" with boy since he was 8, and labelled "gay and camp" by staff at the school.

I think children can know from on early age, but what they cant possibly know, is if it is a phase they will grow out of, or if it will last for life.

Jux Wed 20-Jan-10 19:57:08

hobbgoblin, hate to do this to you as I am generally in your camp on this thread, but if 9 out of 10 people do live in fluffyville, then there are indeed more than 1% of people who "are tolerant, accepting and who care about people other than themselves". 10 times as many as that in fact grin

Blu Thu 21-Jan-10 13:18:52

I was a complete tomboy, dressed as far as I could in boys clothes, and spent time imagining I would grow up as a boy.

But I was living that fantasy knowing I was a girl, iyswim. I had nowhere near the experience of the children in that documentary- and while I fantasised about a process that would enable me to morph into being a boy at puberty, I feel petty sure that had my mother offered to take me to a Dr and get my gender re-aligned I would have declined. It was a 'being a boy' fantasy of a girl. Not a 'give me the right body' fantasy of an inner boy, if that makes sense.

I saw a huge difference between my own experience and those children. It isn't merely a slightly enhanced tomboy phenomenum.

NatachaK Sun 10-Feb-13 21:08:23

A couple of things that might be worth noting. My own peer-reviewed research;

transkids.synthasite.com/resources/NatachaKennedy%20%282010%29%20-%20updated%20version.pdf

...clearly demonstrates that the age at which trans people become aware that they are trans is very young; mean average is 8, modal average is 5. So a child coming out as trans in year 4 is not unusual in the sense that she is discovering that she is trans, but unusual that she has the strength of character not to succumb to the cultural and social pressure to conceal or suppress her real gender.

Also, the figures about so-called "desisters"; children who are trans when young but do not grow up trans, is seriously contested. The explanations for this apparent change of heart ignore the social pressures on these children to conceal and suppress, especially when they are treated by parents, teachers, other children's parents and psychologists, as problematic. So far the organisation for parents of trans children, Mermaids, has not been able to find any instances of any trans child changing their mind, when they have been properly supported by their parents, schools and others around them.

The majority of studies which suggest that most trans children do not become trans adults are also carried out by people who have an interest in the outcome; often psychs whose careers depend on selling to parents the idea that they can 'cure' trans children. They are also carried out by psychologists, not sociologists and as such fail to account properly for social and cultural pressures on tarns children to conform to stereotypical gendered behaviour.

My research also highlighted the depressing statistic that the second largest source of bullying that trans children received from adults was from parents of other children (the first was from school staff). This is supported by anecdotal evidence from people like Livvy James, the young trans girl in Worcester, who was quite literally abused by other kids parents in school and in the street.

Why does this happen? Well this blog;

image-not-available.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/its-not-about-burchill.html?m=1

by a trans woman explains it very well; we live in a world which is media saturated, and that media is saturated by ubiquitous negative images of trans people. These portrayals of trans people have an effect in that they make the majority of people believe that we are evil, fetishists, wiredos, freaks who eat children, bite the heads off whippets...

Actually trans people are just like everyone else; only trans. And trans children just want to do whatever other children do; as this wonderful, moving and inspitrational trans child campaigning for her own human rights in the US shows in her own words;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AelO2L4HneE

Trans children need only acceptance in their real gender identities. There have been trans people in every civilisation that has ever existed in all of human history according to painstaking research by cultural historian Marjorie Garber; in native American societies trans women were teachers and foster parents, looking after older children of mums who had too many babies and toddlers to contend with. The problem is not trans people or trans children, but the way society and a culture dominated by a sensationalist and divisive media demonises trans people.

I would ask that you have a look at the words of an 11-year-old trans girl, who has been kept out of school in America foe many years because of negative attitudes by other children's parents.

www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/23/transgender-girl-obama-speech_n_2533298.html

NatachaK Sun 10-Feb-13 21:14:05

BTW; I forgot to mention; Quint...

No child under 18 is allowed to have gender reassignment surgery. This is not merely in the UK but a worldwide ruling. In practice it means that trans girls will have to wait until 19 at the earliest for surgery on the NHS, trans boys much longer. Some will commence hormone blocker treatment at 13 or older but this is a completely reversible treatment.

What is not easily reversed are the lost years of school that most trans children experience. I know an 18 year-old trans girl who was bullied out of school aged 13, and a 9-year-old trans girl who has not been to school since she was 6. :-(

Scootee Sun 10-Feb-13 21:19:30

To a young child, this is a straightforward issue to grasp. I'd have no hesitation explaining this to my dc if the issue arose. Op - your ds has taken the lead with his straightforward statement that Peter feels that he's a girl in the wrong body. You just need to build on that a bit and you're done.

snice Sun 10-Feb-13 21:20:34

this thread is 3 years old

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