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DS is transgender - or is he?

(174 Posts)
LemonadeApex Wed 28-Oct-15 18:24:02

I’ve NCd for this as it's not just my confidentiality at stake, but I’m a regular. I’m posting in AIBU because it’s where I normally hang out and also for traffic as I feel pretty desperate for support.

My teenage DS has just come out to me and DH as transgender. He says he wants to pursue gender reassignment via hormone treatment and possibly eventually surgery. He says he’s ‘wondered’ about this for a while but only seriously been considering it for about a week. He says he is about 70% sure it’s what he wants. He wants to get started with hormone therapy asap. He seems to have done a great deal of reading on the web and has a clear, if intellectualised, grasp of what lies ahead medically, but he doesn’t seem to have given much thought to what comes next in daily life, eg who/when to tell, when/what he wants his younger siblings to know, the implications for his sexuality (he has zero sexual experience with either sex). He finds it very difficult to express what he feels, what’s actually going on in his head or why he wants this. He’s not great with words at the best of times though.

Obviously my foremost concern is to support him absolutely 100% in what he wants and needs. He’s a lovely kid, clever, funny, kind, responsible, and I just want him to be happy. I’m painfully aware of the statistics correlating gender transition and depression/suicide and don’t want to make a difficult path even harder for him by being anything other than accepting of his choices. At the same time, I’m feeling alarmed and upset, and so, so sad. I love him just as he is. Why can’t he feel the same way? If he goes ahead with this and ends up living as a woman, changing his name etc, the person he is now will be gone forever. He may not want us to mention his birth name or have photos of him as a boy, and of course we'd need to respect that. But it will be like he died. I can’t even type it without crying.

I’m also scared he's making a horrible mistake. Don’t most gender dysmorphic kids know they’re in the ‘wrong’ body from an early age? Aren’t they desperately distressed by the time they get to puberty? This isn't how I'd describe him on either count. He’s at an age where it’s normal to be consumed with angst about who and what you are. I think he’s also anxious about making the transition from boyhood to manhood. Is it possible that he’s conflating that confusion with things he’s reading on the web about other people’s gender dysmorphic experiences? I assume this is not a path many people go down in error, but we’re quite a liberal household and I think he'd be less afraid of experimenting with other identities than most kids his age. I want to support him if this is what he truly wants, but I’m also scared of supporting him so well with my knee-jerk liberalism that we all end up on a conveyor belt that ruins his life.

I’m very scared of getting this wrong for him and could really use some support and advice. If anyone can help with their insights and experiences, I would be so grateful. In particular, if anyone here is, or is related to, a young person who has been through this and has decided it was not the right path for them, I would be very grateful to hear your story – in absence of any anecdotal evidence to the contrary, I think I have to assume that he knows instinctively what is best for him. We are in the UK and he is under 18, if that helps anyone advise me on what to expect next. Apologies if I've given any offence with my attitudes or terminology btw. I'm in uncharted waters here. I am also distraught, so please be kind.

NeedAScarfForMyGiraffe Wed 28-Oct-15 18:27:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

formerbabe Wed 28-Oct-15 18:29:07

He says he is about 70% sure it’s what he wants

70% is not much really is it in terms of such a decision? I know nothing about the issue to be honest but would think he needs a great deal of counselling before he decides on anything.

ghostyslovesheep Wed 28-Oct-15 18:32:08

It must be a shock but I think it's brilliant that you have raised him so well that he feels you are both approachable and will be accepting and supportive x - good parenting thanks

I can't imagine all the questions you have - I wonder if there is a support group for families/parents you can chat to who might be able to answer your questions?

No one will go ahead and operate etc without a full and comprehensive assessment and counselling - it wont happen over night which will give you all time to adapt

Keep being the brilliant supportive parents you are and let him / her be who they are - you will still love them x

NeedAScarfForMyGiraffe Wed 28-Oct-15 18:32:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ImperialBlether Wed 28-Oct-15 18:32:20

If he's only been seriously considering it for a week, he really shouldn't take any action yet. It's a massively life changing decision, obviously, and he won't be considered after such a short time.

I know how sad you must be. Try not to worry too much at the moment - he still has a long way to go.

LemonadeApex Wed 28-Oct-15 18:34:36

Yes, I felt 70% was not what I would be looking for - before even talking about it tbh, although I'm glad he felt he could. I'm worried that the counselling on offer may - like me - be compromised by an orthodoxy of acceptance and respect for choices. sad I'm hoping there may be someone here who's been through it who could shed some light.

Thanks for the mermaids link giraffe. Had just found that elsewhere and will check it out in a bit.

LemonadeApex Wed 28-Oct-15 18:41:23

Thanks ghosty [blub] and thanks for the thread link giraffe. Feel like we'll all be glued to our screens for a while now.

Do you guys think we all need to keep talking and thinking for a while before going the GP route? Or should we make that appointment asap...?

Enjolrass Wed 28-Oct-15 18:41:32

I can give advice after a friend going through this.

But as they finally didn't go through with it, I am not sure how much help I can be.

Simply put 70% sure isn't enough. You need to look into the counselling. My friend was temporarily rejected. The counselling was very neutral. Neither for or against it. Because they were there to discover if the person really wants this 100%.

My friend is now happy they were rejected and feels it was the right rejection. He never went back for another try at it.

Obviously if the counselling is a case of doing paperwork and just a formality then it could be worrying. But I don't think it would be.

Being convinced for a week isn't long either.

Honestly I would start the counselling route. It's a hard road you are heading down, but you sound like a wonderful mum.

If he does go ahead it may be worth seeking counselling yourself. They may offer this, I don't know, my friend was NC from his family.

NeedAScarfForMyGiraffe Wed 28-Oct-15 18:41:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NeedAScarfForMyGiraffe Wed 28-Oct-15 18:43:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Obs2015 Wed 28-Oct-15 18:45:57

Have you read any of the other threads going on atm? Although there is some nastiness, some very valid points are made.

It is a traumatic and difficult journey. Many find when they get there, it's not quite the answer.
I wouldn't do anything yet.

TattyDevine Wed 28-Oct-15 18:46:32

Get it rolling. It will quite possibly or hopefully iron out some issues along the way?

Any signs at all in earlier years, even tiny signs? My nephew has showed some "signs" - to me anyway - as a parent, it would have flagged to me, but not to say there needed to be any.

NeedAScarfForMyGiraffe Wed 28-Oct-15 18:53:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TinklyLittleLaugh Wed 28-Oct-15 18:55:40

What would be signs though? My sons have shown some stereotypically female traits, my daughters have shown some stereotypically male traits. None of them want to transition to another gender. I think so called signs are a red herring.

WishIWasWonderwoman Wed 28-Oct-15 18:56:26

Could you specify his age?

Advice for a twelve year old will be very different to advice for a seventeen year old.

laffymeal Wed 28-Oct-15 18:57:10

Not got much advice but my sons best mate has just come out as transgender. She is 14 and born female but has identified as male for the past 2 years and her mum and dad are relieved at their decision. Sorry I'm struggling with pronouns. Just be supportive, you sound fantastic and you are saving your child a world of pain with your love flowers

milkmilklemonade12 Wed 28-Oct-15 18:57:49

I don't think there are 'signs' to look for, just as there are no signs for sexuality, so please don't drive yourself crazy looking for something that might not be there.

I absolutely think counselling should be your first port of call on this. Counselling can benefit everyone, not just people experiencing these kinds of issues.

3littlebadgers Wed 28-Oct-15 19:11:00

I haven't got any experiance of making the transition to a different gender, but I just wanted to say that your love for your child shines through your post. Knowing that you are there for him, and that he can actually talk openly with you about these things is a gift that not every parent can give their child.
Afaik there have recently been some documentaries on transgender which you probably could watch on 4od. One following small children and one girls making the transition to men. They might be useful to sit down with him and DH to watch together. Maybe watch them first though as I have no idea what is actually in them and if they would be suitable for the age of your son.
Good luck with it all, I hope whatever the future holds, it will be a happy one for you all flowers

Crazypetlady Wed 28-Oct-15 19:21:30

Just wanted to say its amazing you are being so supportive .

ahbollocks Wed 28-Oct-15 19:26:59

You sound lovely OP. I think he needs a counsellor to try and open him up a bit and untangle his feelings.
70 percent is nothing really. Perhaps he is confused about his body, or sexuality or lack thereof?
Is he the kind of boy who would sit his parents down over anothing? Or more the quiet type?

Ohbehave1 Wed 28-Oct-15 19:33:40

The comments that worry me are the ones that make it sound like you are trying sound supportive but you are actually quite negative.

To say that you are worried you are going to lose the boy he is, along with other negative comments like that make me think that you are not as concerned about what he ultimately decides on as you are your own feelings. It sort of sounds like you are trying to get others to say he is just going through a phase. Yes - of course he needs to be sure but the Drs will decide if he is or not and if it is "just a phase" will not go ahead.

Sorry if that sounds harsh - it's just the way I read the OP

PitilessYank Wed 28-Oct-15 19:34:44

I wrote you a ridiculously long PM.

I think the most important thing is to give him space and time and support to work things out in his own head. I wouldn't ask him to address many of the questions that you have, because he has enough on his plate. Save those for later.

TiggyD Wed 28-Oct-15 19:36:30

There really is no chance of rushing into something. Even if everybody was absolutely certain your DS is transgender it would still take many many years. Try some kind of Counselling. Your GP will point you in the right direction.

ephemeralfairy Wed 28-Oct-15 19:40:31

Hi OP. I recommend you have a look at this organisation:

Gendered Intelligence are based in London but offer mentoring and support to young trans people and their families throughout the UK. I have worked with them in the past on arts projects and creative writing workshops and they are fab.

I would also like to echo other posters in saying how wonderful it is that you are being so supportive to your DS. flowers and wine

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