17, transgender, complicated(15 Posts)
Hope that someone can offer me some advice.
It's a long story but hopefully you will understand why I need to tell all!
My daughter got through her first 8 years happily and reasonably healthy. She had problems with an enlarged uterus from a very young age but we got through them.
At 8 her father left us and she was devastated. She ended up with Camhs such was her inability to deal with the situation. (Add here the split was reasonably amicable and I always encouraged a full relationship with her father whatever the personal difficulties involved for myself.) She became a different child, less sociable, less content, more intense.
At 13 she was forced to come out as a lesbian by a homophobic teacher who threatened to tell me. This wasn't a problem. I had long suspected she was gay, had no problem with it and the said teacher ended up getting dismissed for the way she had acted. She had always been strongly female orientated and fiercely feminist for a child! As far back as when she was 4, I suspected that at some stage we would be having a coming out party :-)
It was around this time that she started to rely heavily on an online community and in particular Tumblr and YouTube bloggers. Perhaps a little too heavily but I was mindful of her fierce independence, maturity and privacy.
At 16, she suffered an axonal brain injury and has been recovering ever since. She attended virtually no school during Year 11 due to the injury and yet amazingly, achieved magnificent GCSE grades.
She still suffers with associated problems to do with the injury and appears to have also developed epilepsy although this is still under investigation. At one stage she was suffering severe psychotic symptoms and was hospitalised but fortunately (and apologies for not going into detail) a minor 'miracle' occurred and since then there have been no further problems of this nature. One explanation is that the psychotic symptoms were caused due to abnormal electrical activity in her brain.
A few weeks following the 'miracle' and at the age of 17, she announced one night without preamble that she was transgender and now wanted to be referred to as a boy, with a male name. This was a bolt out of the blue for me. I had never seen any signs of her suffering body dysmorphia although I knew that she loathed the female problems she suffered with menstruation. She did and still does suffer terribly despite being on the pill.
She continues so far to live as she did before albeit with a different name. She wears jeans in the main but does still occasionally wear dresses and skirts and also will pop make up on. I appreciate that gender can be fluid and that we should not have such dyed in the wool views of what a female/male should wear etc but the way I look it at is, if you are a victim of crime the police ask if the perpetrator is male or female. How then can I turn around and say, well officer I'm not really sure because they may be of a fluid gender?
This is isn't about me as such, I know that but I do feel that her coming out as transgender is a political statement and also perhaps influenced by the online communities that she is a member of. I also feel that the brain injury may have some sort of influence on this statement.
She now insists that following counselling, which will begin shortly she will take the hormone treatment and then in a few years time, the surgery.
Please don't judge me. I love my daughter/son totally. If she was male it wouldn't matter but what worries me so much is that unless she gets some pretty impartial counselling, she many end up making a decision that may not be right in the longer term.
My problem is that all the advice for transgender teenagers seems to be directed at those at the younger end of the spectrum. I feel trapped in a limbo between adolescence and adult treatment. I have no say in her treatment etc because she is 17 but yet in law, she is still a child and with all that has happened in the last 18 months, perhaps a little confused, although she will not accept this.
Please don't tell me I should be describing her as him etc. I'm not looking to be taught gender awareness lessons. At present she she's still female! All I want is some advice and opinions. Thank you
Have you had a look at the 4th wave now website? I read something on there recently by a mother and daughter who had been in a similar situation to the one you describe. The daughter no longer identifies as trans. You may find it useful.
I think your dd needs to be fully aware of the long-term effects of hormones and surgery.
I am certainly no expert, but I remember there was a thread by a woman complaining that doctors refused to sterilise her even though she had three children and very good reasons not to want another pregnancy. One of the posters explained the long term consequences to one's health from early sterilization.
If your dd still wants to go ahead, at least you will know that she is making a properly informed decision.
I've just seen a thread o twitter from the parent of a girl who identified as tg for 18 months, but has now desisted. Thought it might be useful
And thank you. I have a lot of reading to do. Links are fantastic.
There are a growing number of ftm detransitioners putting videos up in YouTube which will be helpful for both of you.
Hello, we are going through this with our 18 year old. I don't think our DD is transgender, but I believe her when she says she thinks she is, and we don't know whether it will persist or not. In our case I think a combination of autistic traits, mental ill health - anxiety, and emotional difficulties has led her to this conclusion. We are trying to slow things, down, get her help for the anxiety, including psychotherapy, and reassure her that we will love her no matter what. We are also pursuing a diagnosis for asbergers/ASD as this is commonly undiagnosed in girls, and a high proportion of girls presenting at gender clinics are on the spectrum. I am also trying to steer clear of well-meaning counsellors and gender clinics, although that may not be anything we can about that as she can refer herself. My gut feeling with her is that with time she will come to a different conclusion, but if not, I do not want her to have the added pain of feeling rejected. I also don't want her to make any permanent changes until her brain has matured - mid twenties, which what I have said with respect to every other permanent change. She is not listening to that now but I hope there will be a little voice in her head she will listen to when making that kind of decision. I have to say that I don't think we would be able to argue her out of it - but every child is different, and I think adopting a transgender identity is caused by many different things. We are being as neutral as possible, but do now use her male name. You are right to be very concerned and sceptical of the "born in the wrong body" narrative, and I have found the 4th wave now website and others very useful. We are living in strange times where well-intentioned promotion of transgender people's rights may be causing immense harm to vulnerable adolescents.
We have a breathing space in that there is a 40 week waiting list for a clinic appointment. Like you I'm using the new name and try to talk as much as possible but this is difficult as I am accused of being negative. I try not to be but I can see why she would see it that way because when you are discussing from a different point of view on such an emotive subject, you will be thought of as negative.
A long road ahead
Interesting programme on BBC2 this evening - no doubt howls of protest but it looks like it is going to suggest that autism and mental illness have a part to play in someone identifying as the opposite gender - on mainstream TV!!
My child is 14 and has been identifying as male for a little while now, s/he was born female. s/he hates his/her body and always dresses to disguise it, wants to have top surgery when s/he grows up. My approach has been to to be as supportive as possible of this decision, not necessarily because I think its the right decision I'm hoping its a phase, it has the obsessive teenagery intensity of a phase, and i'm figuring if i am supportive s/he is less likely to dig his/her heals in and push on with it, basically i don't want to fuel the rebelling against the parents side of it. I don't really care what gender my child identifies as, or what they call themselves, I'd like to avoid invasive surgical proceedures and hormones and i'm hoping if i their choices and identity this is less likely to happen. does that make sense?
Kara line - I am so sorry you are going through this with your daughter. You sound like a lovely Mum. Ours is a little older. I think you are right about not wanting to encourage a rebellion. I am all over the place in my head about this but I think it is key to make sure your daughter knows you love her unconditionally and unwaveringly. Like you I don't care how she refers to herself or dresses but I do not want her to go down the route of hormones or surgery, unless this is the only way she can live her life, and not to make this decision until she is in her twenties.
Has your daughter any other mental health issues - anxiety? Depression? If so try and get effective help for that - from a clinical psychologist through your gp, if possible, not from a school counsellor. The other possibility to look at is whether your daughter is on the Autistic Spectrum. It is quite common for girls to go undiagnosed. I would also try and keep life as normal as possible. Whilst she needs love and support, I think sometimes that trans support groups can be like evangelists for their cause - and this may not be helpful if your daughter would otherwise not persist. Watch that
BBC documentary if you haven't. Stay strong - you are going to need to be. All the best.
When you're talking, try not to phrase comments or questions so that she/he has to argue them selves into a corner. For example, if you say 'But what if you change your mind in the future?' you risk putting them in the position of arguing that they won't, whereas if you say 'Are their people that change their minds later on? What are the options if that happens?' then they can have an actual discussion where they are really thinking about the consequences rather than becoming more entrenched. Best advice I've been given. Wish I could follow it.
That is good advice, Regents - I'll see if I can follow it too. I am petrified of saying the wrong thing.
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