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12 year old daughter saying she thinks she's male(9 Posts)
Would very much welcome some advice. My 12 year old daughter has appeared perfectly happy (albeit quite quirky) until she started secondary school this year. On the surface she still appears happy - has a good group of friends and social life, and is doing well academically. However, she has been increasingly saying she is self-conscious, and some weeks ago self harmed several times - we have got her some support through both the GP and school. It looked like things were settling down and she had a good half term. However she came to see me yesterday and said she thought she was actually male. She had had a period of about 6 months around 2 years ago where she would only wear boys clothes (and said she had asked friends to call her a boys name but they wouldn't) but since then she has had a number of phases, including some quite girly ones.
I had a long chat with her and told her I didn't think people could be in the wrong body - it was much more about how they perceived themselved etc. and pressures from society. We talked a lot about how you could live your life as you pleased (within reason) as a woman, and didn't need to conform to any gender norm or sexuality while still remaining a woman. She agreed, but said she felt she would feel more comfortable and less self concious with a male body or liviing as a male. She had quite early puberty and has a clearly female shape already.
We kind of left it there with the channels of communication left open, but I would welcome any advice. I certainly do not want her going down the trans route but have made it clear that I have no problem regarding whatever her sexuality may be or how she chooses to present herself / dress etc. Are there any groups that she could talk to that wouldn't encourage her to consider herself trans? I'm really struggling to be both supportive while not wishing to support the idea that she is indeed a male and could / should live like this. Obviously it may all go away in the next few weeks as she's only 12, but even if it does I think it's important she feels listened to and there's obviously something going on with her taht requires support. I'm also concerned that if she talks to her counsellor at school that they will refer her to Mermaids or something similar, so feel I need to have identified another support group that I can encourage her to contact that won't support this stance.
They talked a bit about this on radio 2 today at lunchtime - there might be some ideas for groups or websites as a result on their website x
First off, don't force your own opinions on her. Supporting her in how she feels about her body doesn't mean she's going to get a sex change tomorrow. Find a licensed therapist that specialises in this.
I hope you are aware that trans people often end up with severe depression and have a high suicide rate due to attitudes such as the one you've had with your child.
If you look at the structure of the human brain, there are differences between the male and the female brain. Look at a transgender person's brain and it matches the sex they identify with rather than their biological sex. It is not made up as people on mumsnet would have you believe.
Now your child is only 12. They might not be trans as you've said, but they may be. And denying them this if they are could cost you their life. Take them to see their GP. If your child continues to feel that they are male, you will have to support them if you value their mental health.
For perspective, imagine waking up in a man's body. How horrendous would that be?
No great advice but I think you have handled it well. I agree with you - I know it’s controversial but your daughter (and most 12 year olds) go through phases and I don’t think your daughter sounds consistently like she is transgender. She had a girly phase only recently. I also think it is important to emphasise that women come in all different shapes, sizes and personalities. I wouldn’t want her doing anything permanent and you have said she can wear whatever she likes etc. I was a consistent tomboy all through my childhood on the 1980s - wore boys clothes, played with boy toys, often said I wished I was a boy. My parents and everyone else didn’t bat an eyelid - perfectly socially acceptable even in the 1980s to be a tomboy - puberty hit and I was heterosexual. Still not girly - never wear dresses or skirts but very much a girl and a mother and no desire to be male. I think certainly people are transgender but too many young people are going down this route too quickly when they are really just unhappy teenagers etc who don’t fit social media stereotypes.
@Ginger199 that’s a bit alarmist! I don’t think the high suicide rates are likely to be attributable to calm, rational conversations with parents. The OP has opened a line of communication with her child and that’s very important.
Yes, there are studies that demonstrate greater degree of similarity between transgender individuals and their chosen sex (as opposed to their natal sex), but these are currently quite limited studies and these differences rather brain mostly develop during/after puberty. The OPs child is 12, and there are no studies on children of this age related to this subject, so it’s a really big leap. There are also a growing number of individuals (particularly those whose natal sex was female) who transition back post-adolescence. There have been no scans on these individuals. It is not clear whether their desire to transition was biological or societal. Also, the brain is plastic - changes post-transition were not necessarily always there! The brain is shaped by our experiences and how we are treated.
Surely the most important thing with this issue is the same as all other issues with teenagers/pre-teens - keep the line of communication open and allow them to express their feelings and concerns.
The OP has a right to her opinion, and if her daughter is unable to listen to a calmly expressed opinion, she’s going to have enormous difficulty. OP, whatever route you/your child take, the most important thing is to listen and express love and acceptance.
If you look at the structure of the human brain, there are differences between the male and the female brain. Look at a transgender person's brain and it matches the sex they identify with rather than their biological sex.
I’ve not heard of this before Ginger. Have you got the links to the research? I like to read up on things.
Although no directed to me, this article has a reasonable amount of detail and also references some other articles that are far more detailed.
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