How to support daughter who wants to be a boy(14 Posts)
I realise this is becoming more common but I need someone to tell me what to do. My dd (13) has decided she wants to be a boy. For background, she has suffered with fairly early puberty, depression and has been self-harming also for almost a year. The depression came first, then self harming and this was very closely followed by her ‘coming out’ to me firstly as being a lesbian/pansexual and then transgender. She has been getting support for depression/self-harming which have now improved. She takes Prozac and is going through a DBT program for self-harming.
As a family we get a fair amount of outside support as my 2 other children are on the autistic spectrum etc. I have discussed with these services the possibility of dd also having ASD but they have almost ruled it out because she appears to be fine. I’m a little sceptical and am thinking she needs a full assessment with someone very in tune with autistic girls.
At the moment I’m pushing back with dd being transgender and wanting her to wait until she has spoken to a psychologist properly before making an announcement to her class etc. I have no problem with what she wants to wear, discussing with friends but because I’m not letting her teacher formally talk to the class about it I’m the worst mother in the world.
I’ve read transgender trend but I just don’t know how to handle this right now.
Any advice, please..!
I really strongly suggest you talk with parents who have been through this experience.
My instinct would be to suggest that she works on her own well being and self-acceptance of herself as a person, regardless of gender. But I have two friends whose children transitioned during their teens and they both said very strongly that it was essential that they supported the transition from an early age. They're both very thoughtful women and loving parents so I assume they know far better than I do. And I know when both my own DC came out as gay, I wouldn't have dreamed of questioning their identifications.
I would also be pursuing further assessment for ASD, maybe at the Lorna Wing Centre? A friend was in a similar situation and finally her DD got an ASD diagnosis...
ASD in girls is quite a different beast to in boys. I think you may need to pay to find a decent doctor who knows what they’re talking about in this regard.
You definitely aren’t the worst mother in the world. The worst mother in the world would be sticking her head in the sand.
I really do think asd is relevant but it’s hard because she comes across as thoughtful insightful and articulate. On the other hand she has difficulty with friendship groups, prefers a lot of time to herself, gets anxious in crowds- is ‘quirky’. My concern is that the transgender issue suddenly appeared within the last year. I just would never had an inkling before this.
I suppose I’m almost hoping an asd diagnosis might help with some of the feelings of difference she’s experiencing- but that might be clutching at straws.
Should I not push back so much? Am I making things worse?
Op your not the worst mother in the world. Support doesn't have to be blind agreement. Carving out an identity is pretty normal for teens. What isn't normal is feeling you have to co-opt a stereotype of a certain sex. Not supporting this isn't being a bad parent. I imagine any critique of this won't go down well. Have you discussed why she feels she's a boy? Might be worth going private and finding a gender critical therapist.
Have you read Lily Maynard's blog ? You might find it helpful.
We went through exactly this with DD2. We pretty much knew she was a lesbian from very young and not long after she came out at 10 she announced she wanted to be a boy. We were completely supportive, told her we’d be there for her no matter what. She was then diagnosed with ADHD and ASD, both present very differently in girls!
After our psychiatrist recommended “watch and wait” with regards to a gender clinic referral, we started to research the link between gender issues and ASD. What we found alarmed us but we continued to assure DD that we’d support transition after puberty and assured her that nothing would happen to her body in the meantime that couldn’t be resolved if she felt it necessary. All the while desperately hoping she would grow out of it!
As it happened, with the assurance that she was supported no matter what, the urgency to transition was removed and she felt more able to explore who she was before anything permanent happened. After the age of 13 she desisted, telling us in no uncertain terms that she was a proud and happy lesbian. She wears men’s clothing and presents in a masculine way but she is very happy as a lesbian woman. She just needed time and space to realise that.
If it weren’t for the women of mumsnet I would have pushed for an immediate referral to Tavistock .
My advice would be to support her feelings but make it clear there is no rush. Opposition tends to push in the direction of haste and that isn’t good for anyone. Our mantra at the time was “yes, but let’s take our time” it paid off in spades but was the hardest thing we’ve ever done!
So happy for you and your family wapper. I just wish there was more information like this around to help teens
I’d ask ‘how would your life change better/worse if you were a male’ and ‘what could you do/what can’t you do now’. Try to get her to think. It sound like it’s a symptom of other issues, poor kid - she is trying to make sense of the world.
I think the most important thing to stress to her is not all females are feminine, not everyone wants to wear dresses, make up and heels. At 13 she'll be exposed at school to girls playing on their femininity to attract boys, often being subservient etc. Some good strong female role models may help, those who literally wear the trousers. Dd has asd and it is different in girls to the extent that they "pass" better but a specialist will be able to diagnose. I might add that having asd hasn't confused my dd with her gender and sexuality, they are very separate (dd is straight and longs for a boyfriend, she's older at university).
We know several kids who declared themselves trans at that age and all but 2 grew out of it, it was their sexuality rather than gender that was confusing them. DD's good friend is now in a loving lesbian relationship, but still doesn't do dresses, a dinner suit is her formal outfit of choice
There was the story of a woman who was in the same situation as yourself here:-
A mum’s voyage through Transtopia: A tale of love and desistance
It is a similar story to what WappersReturns describes in her post
It also has a LOT of links to resources that can help and give more information.
WappersReturns excellent post. Totally agree.
There's a trans young person in our wider family. Opposing only seemed to build barriers. Acceptance seemed to build bridges.
The wait at gender clinics is very long.
Good luck and hope she and you feel peace and calm as this all works out.
Gender issues and ASD is very common. Push for diagnosis with CAMHS but aside from gender issues, is my advice.
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