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What it's really like to be a parent of a transgender child - blog

(44 Posts)
raisinsarenottheonlyfruit Thu 16-Nov-17 01:18:50

This article is so sad. What a shame for this child that there was nowhere in society for her to fit in as a butch girl.

It sounds to me as if the real problem is that no one accepted her as she was.

transgenderjourney.simplesite.com/

The parents have totally swallowed the line that pubery blockers are safe. They are being advised by the Gender Identity Development Service and Mermaids.

Blockers are not hormones and all the evidence suggests they're safe. In fact they've already been used for decades to treat children experiencing a precocious puberty.

The puberty suppressing effects of hormone blockers are completely reversible so if our child changes his mind at any point and stops the injections then a normal female puberty will resume

I have a lot of sympathy for the family as it must be so hard to see your child suffer like that, but IMO the child was sufffering as a girl as people wouldn't accept her as she was, not because she's actually a "boy".

Of course the child feels happier as a boy as she's accepted now. But the problem is society not her. But - I don't envy the parents - if society is at fault and not your child what can you do? You can't just go change society before your child grows up can you?

The child may be happier, but right now they are a child with no need for fertility, sex drive or a partner.

Will they really be happier longer term as an infertile adult with a messed up libido, potential health issues and a relatively small pool of people who will date them? Especially if it comes to pass that they decide in fact they were a butch girl not a boy all along - along with the majory of FTM presenting children.

OlennasWimple Thu 16-Nov-17 01:42:12

Quelle surprise - a British girl who loves football, and therefore thinks she is a boy! Perhaps her parents should have realised that she is in fact an American girl, where soccer is the game for middle class girls while their brothers play American football hmm

ALittleBitOfButter Thu 16-Nov-17 02:30:38

So George Kirrin WAS trans hmm

These people are sterilising their child. Words fail me.

PricklyBall Thu 16-Nov-17 09:06:23

In fairness to the parent in question, having read the blog, I'd say that they quite well might have a genuinely gender dysphoric child (rather than a sudden-onset, teenager rebelling in the way teenagers love to trans child). I take issue with some of their claims about the science (they have unquestioningly bought the Mermaids/GIDS line that puberty blockers are harmless, and that the suicide stats are incredibly high). But their account of their child sounds like they are balanced sensible parents.

They didn't go "ooh, football, must be a boy", they started out with finding their child a girls' football team to play on. They tried to show their child that women could do anything - role models of female scientists, prime ministers and presidents, etc. I suspect this child probably is in the 0.4% of the population who lead happier, more fulfilled lives presenting as the opposite sex, rather than one of the 2000% increase in girls presenting to the Tavistock who are actually fleeing pornified, patriarchal culture by trying to identify their way out of being treated like shit. NB, probably, not guaranteed - I had a friend remarkably like this when she was in her early twenties - she is now a happily adjusted married lesbian mother.

But that doesn't alter the "first do no harm" principle for the majority of children, nor does it stop me being suspicious of some of the parents of trans children who do come across as though transing their child is for the parents' benefit rather than the child's (I emphatically don't think that is the case for the author of this blog).

I'd also take issue with the "what's wrong with being trans anyway?" analysis. There is nothing wrong with wanting to present in a way associated with the stereotypes attached to the opposite sex - but major surgery and cross-sex hormones do carry serious health risks, so simply in terms of morbidity and life expectancy, if I had a child like this, I would sooner she grew up as a happy butch lesbian rather than a transgender person, because the health implications of being transgender are enormous.

SweetGrapes Thu 16-Nov-17 09:12:11

It seems to me they end up in a sort of twilight zone of neither fully male nor female. Must be proper heartbreaking if you then grow out of it and realise you mutilated your or your child's perfect body.

raisinsarenottheonlyfruit Thu 16-Nov-17 09:56:06

nor does it stop me being suspicious of some of the parents of trans children who do come across as though transing their child is for the parents' benefit rather than the child's (I emphatically don't think that is the case for the author of this blog)

I agree that's not the case with the author of this blog.

And I agree there are some parents whose motivations seem suspect - only a hunch but I would suspect that the ones we see in the media have a disproportionately high number of parents with additional motives to their child's welfare.

But - again total guesswork on my part - I would suspect these parents are rather typical. Don't most parents want what's best for their children above all else?

In this blog, the author makes it clear they think medical transition is a good outcome, but they have based that on these ideas:

- they believe the puberty suppressing effects of hormone blockers are completely reversible

- they believe low bone mineral density not to be a potentially serious problem because we are assured that this will be monitored and that bone density returns to normal once blockers are stopped

- they belive puberty blockers are not risky all the evidence suggests they're safe and In fact they've already been used for decades to treat children experiencing a precocious puberty

In addition, the concern that many have here that once you're on puberty blockers it's a road to medical transition is denied by this odd logic that "There is certainly no evidence of this from the children having had the medication for early onset puberty" but that makes no sense as there's a big difference in using puberty blockers for identity issues and for early onset puberty - it's not at all reasonable to compare them.

On that same point, they say "the concern in its self suggests a transphobic premise that being transgender is an undesirable" - well you would be much more likely think that if you've been sold the idea that medically transition is a risk free safe undertaking, wouldn't you?

That kind of thinking makes it much harder for people with real concerns to get our point across - if transitioning is so safe - what are we worried about, hey? Must be transphobia, therefore ignore any concerns.

EMSMUM16 Thu 16-Nov-17 10:15:03

I do think though that society is changing towards this issue & the medical analysis is that until someone is through puberty, when they are expected to go a bit off the wall, they will not know who ir what they are until after this point. That's why children & adolescents aren't labelled with other conditions until after puberty.
Personally I feel that children & teens should be treated individually and if the issue of gender is interfering so much in their lives they should be able to express themselves however they want and be supported as such.

raisinsarenottheonlyfruit Thu 16-Nov-17 10:21:00

Obviously we don't know this family - but there is a strong theme of acceptance here.

As a little girl, this child wanted to play with the boys but they rejected her. If the boys had accepted her into their play - would she still have to identify as one to get the life she wanted?

This is the key: It seemed that she didn't fit in with the girls but was rejected by the boys

She wanted to do "boys things" but was prevented from doing them, not by her parents but by society.

Because we can't change society quickly enough to create acceptance for boys to accept girls in their play, as a child, I have no doubt that this child is happier living as a boy. But it's because she needs society's acceptance of how she wants to live.

But - what about longer term? If a parent does right by their child in this situation (accordig to the GID and Mermaids), are they also doing right by them later in life, when they grow up to be an adult?

Is the relief of conforming as a child worth the pain of never really conforming as an adult? Of being sterile, of having difficulty finding sexual and romantic partners, of having possibly little or no libido, health issues and possibly poor sexual function?

I worry that parents like this one are being oversold something that is in fact risky. They're not going into it with their eyes open.

raisinsarenottheonlyfruit Thu 16-Nov-17 10:24:18

Personally I feel that children & teens should be treated individually and if the issue of gender is interfering so much in their lives they should be able to express themselves however they want and be supported as such.

I totally agree. Children should be able to express themselves how they like.

It seems to me that we are sacrificing these children though. Instead of having a frank conversation about what's wrong with our society that a little girl who wants to play with boys things is so rejected by other children - we're pushing these children towards medical transition with false promises that it's safe, no big deal.

Ilovelampandchair Thu 16-Nov-17 10:27:28

It's very patronising to keep saying 'she's just a girl who likes boys things'. Unless you are personally involved I don't think you can make judgments like that at all.

Some of you just simply think you know these people better than they know themselves.

raisinsarenottheonlyfruit Thu 16-Nov-17 10:33:06

The parent in the blog has justified their decision by minimising the risks and also by telling themselves that the people saying most children grow out of gender confusion as a child are wrong.

This isn't an informed decision IMO.

It can't be at all easy. But acceptance of the parents is another issue that comes up time and time again. In that article it says:

* I contacted Mermaids who have proved to be invaluable in supporting our family. At the beginning we felt totally overwhelmed, confused and isolated so discovering Mermaids and the friendship of other parents on their forum was a huge relief. The Tavistock have very long waiting times for appointments, currently around 12 months I believe, so having Mermaids to go to for information and support is a vital lifeline for families*

But we know Mermaids have an agenda. They're not an expert or evidence based organisation.

If this parent had found themselves in support group for parents in this situation where gender critical ideas were able to be discussed, where people were frank about the risks, where evidence formed the basis of opinion not campaining, where there were positive stories of kids who'd grown up to be gay adults, not primarily a focus on supporting transition, then would they be so enthusiatic about presenting medical transition as risk free?

raisinsarenottheonlyfruit Thu 16-Nov-17 10:38:02

It's very patronising to keep saying 'she's just a girl who likes boys things

I am responding to what it says in the blog. And I didn't use the word "just". I am not minimisng this experience. I don't doubt that this girl had a very powerful need to be acccepted so she could do the boys things she wanted to do. But if the boys had accepted her as a girl doing them, would she have felt the need to become a boy?

This is what the blog says:

We also noticed she was rejecting certain types of toys, steering clear of dolls, 'pretend play' kitchens, princess dresses etc. and instead opting to dress up as Iron Man, racing Hot Wheels cars and playing police

and

we started to notice that she didn't want to wear dresses or skirts, or anything pink or frilly

and

she developed a deep interest in football, both watching and playing it

and

It seemed that she didn't fit in with the girls but was rejected by the boys

Zoll Thu 16-Nov-17 10:48:15

@raisinsarenottheonlyfruit This "Is the relief of conforming as a child worth the pain of never really conforming as an adult? Of being sterile, of having difficulty finding sexual and romantic partners, of having possibly little or no libido, health issues and possibly poor sexual function?" is such a good point. I do wonder if part of what is driving this is an unwise overpromotion of the importance of happiness in childhood and the actual power of parents over the psyche of their progeny. Don't get me wrong, it's important for children to be safe and happy and loved! But I do think we are losing the idea of growing pains. Of the idea of childhood experiences not necessarily fixing and limiting adult selves, but being sometimes something one grows through, grows out of, and sometimes leaves behind.

Because we do! People do get over things. Childhood can be grown out of. Even tough experiences can be learnt from and put behind us. Our adult selves are not the helpless puppets of our playground bullies. The central concerns of our teen selves are not generally present in our adult lives at all. It gets better.

As a child my gender presentation was a huge problem I struggled with every day, along with many other aspects of my incompatibility with school/institutional life. It was tough. The stories I could tell! But really as an adult few of those struggles are present or even relevant. I can organise my life differently and so I do, and none of those experiences need to be burdens. They can be lessons; they can be tools; I can put them down, and I have.

(My dad still harps on about regretting which school he sent me to 25 years ago! I can empathise with his feelings on this but I do think it's an overclaim, honestly, on his part.) But it's understandable because we are assigning SO MUCH to parenting now, it's almost like children are not independent ornery humans but some kind of bonsai person, a cultivar of the parent.

WhattheChuff Thu 16-Nov-17 11:06:58

Long time lurker here.

I just wanted to say Zoll I very much agree with your post. ‘Kids as Bonsai’ is a good way to explain it. I’ve certainly felt this way.

EMSMUM16 Thu 16-Nov-17 11:14:29

Well this is getting interesting...how sad that this little person didn't feel able to fit in, isn't though this a case of education? Should we as parents be teaching children that its ok to play with girls and boys and accept that they can choose gender, confusing I know but... why not?
I don't think we should be rushing into surgery for children though, not until they are old enough to legally make that decision for themselves, you are right there.
But why should anyone conform to being either gender? its social conditioning that limits us there isn't it?
I have a transgender adult son who was born a girl but actually never really fitted in with either boys or girls, he is now 24 and has a very sad story of becoming anorexic (still has this issue), I feel that during his development as an adolescent girl he could not handle the changes to his body (the curves etc), and just starved himself to such a dangerous level, he has been in and out of wards and treatment most of his adolescence. It is so deep rooted now that even having hormones has not really touched the ED (which incidentally we had to pay for as he has an Eating disorder the NHS refused to acknowledge his gender issues).
He is though not going to do the full transition ie get surgery, why should he? the issue is that he feels like a male and wants to live and be seen as one.
There needs to be a sea change in the way we as a culture see gender and identify it, it doesn't need surgery, just understanding.

KittiesInsane Thu 16-Nov-17 11:28:34

The more I read about this, the more I am convinced that we dodged a bullet with DS2.
As a little girl, this child wanted to play with the boys but they rejected her. If the boys had accepted her into their play would she still have to identify as one to get the life she wanted?

As a 12-year-old boy, DS was deeply unhappy at secondary school, newly rejected by the girls as they moved into puberty, and by the boys for being an excitable, pretty, 'girly' boy, into reading and drama and dancing and music and silky clothes (and totally crap at football, though he was pretty good at gymnastics and kung fu).

He did start to say he 'wished he was a girl' and he 'should have been born a girl'. He also expressed thoughts of suicide, which alarmed us enough to go first to the GP, who said, 'Maybe he does think he should be a girl. It's very rare, but a few children really do' (can you tell this was some years ago?), and then CAMHS -- where, thank goodness, the whole 'process' stopped.

We met a no-nonsense counsellor who said that this was not an identity problem but a school bullying problem. Moving to a nonlocal school was a hassle, but the thought that we could have met someone now who 'affirmed our daughter's gender identity' makes me shudder.

I really hope she still works there. I also hope she still gets to tell girly boys and boyish girls that they are just fine how they are, but need some different friends.

raisinsarenottheonlyfruit Thu 16-Nov-17 12:44:41

There needs to be a sea change in the way we as a culture see gender and identify it, it doesn't need surgery, just understanding.

I totally agree.

It's such a missed opportunity, that the Trans Rights movement is forcing this issue into the mainstream - but at the same time demanding #nodebate and vilifying people who want to question and examine the issues.

We need an adult discussion about this, not no-platforming and cries of "transphobia" everytime anyone questions the dogma.

raisinsarenottheonlyfruit Thu 16-Nov-17 12:47:24

KittiesInsane I am convinced that we dodged a bullet with DS2
It does sound like it.

How old is your DS now? What does he say about that period in his life?
I hope he's happier now.

OlennasWimple Thu 16-Nov-17 13:09:31

Zoll - that's a brilliant way of putting it.

Do teens not write awful tedious heartfelt poetry in journals with black biro doodles to illustrate how awful everything is and no one understands them any more? Or spend hours in their room listening to the Smiths because at least they know what it's like to be miserable?

Ilovelampandchair Thu 16-Nov-17 13:31:27

Likening being trans to normal teenage angst is again, patronising.

Also the amount of you who think you know how to fix trans people is utterly shocking.

KittiesInsane Thu 16-Nov-17 13:33:51

He's just fine, thanks; he says himself that that was 'a really, really weird time' in his life.

titchy Thu 16-Nov-17 13:44:43

the amount of you who think you know how to fix trans people is utterly shocking

I think the point is we don't think they need fixing at all hmm Unlike the 'experts' from Tavistock, Mermaids etc.

KittiesInsane Thu 16-Nov-17 13:46:13

Why is it patronising, LampandChair, to want other possible causes of teenage anguish to be considered as well as transgenderism?

DS could so easily have been led further down that route, honestly he could. Children and teenagers are immensely susceptible to what people tell them. They want to fit in (and be unique at the same time). They want an explanation for how they feel. They want 'their tribe'. They want quick fixes for problems. And they are children, so they have limited experience and very limited understanding of what they might be giving up.

OlennasWimple Thu 16-Nov-17 13:47:16

Ilove - my point (I can't speak for others) is that teenage angst - including disgust with one's changing body - is an entirely normal process for many, if not most of us. Most of us grow out of it and turn into normal, well adjusted adults who are more or less happy in our own skins. Being a teenager, frankly, sucks in very many ways.

Counsellors and psychiatrists are now increasingly concerned that they are unable to help teens through this phase in their life if their patient has expressed concerns about their gender. There was a great - if chilling - post on another thread in FWR recently from someone working in that area who spoke about how her colleagues were terrified of being labelled transphobic bigots if they didn't effectively support a teen with gender issues towards transitioning, rather than helping them to work through whether there was another, underlying problem.

I think in many cases, transitioning is treating the symptom not the cause. Girls who suffer homophobic bullying should be protected from that bullying rather than offered the possibility of opting out by "becoming a boy". Boys who are angry with how they see women being treated need help in resolving that underpinning feeling (probably anxiety). Or boys who are effeminate gay men should be supported in being effeminate gay men, rather than put on the path to becoming transwomen.

I don't think that there is anyone on here who doesn't believe that there are genuine cases of gender dysphoria. More that the prevailing orthodoxy at the moment is increasingly that anyone questioning gender presentation is probably trans, should be supported 100% to transition, and the drugs that teens and young adults can be given are completely safe and reversible - even though that is patently untrue.

raisinsarenottheonlyfruit Thu 16-Nov-17 14:06:18

that the prevailing orthodoxy at the moment is increasingly that anyone questioning gender presentation is probably trans, should be supported 100% to transition, and the drugs that teens and young adults can be given are completely safe and reversible - even though that is patently untrue.

This.

The parent in the blog linked above says:

One concern the media have picked up on recently is that children on blockers may be more likely to continue with transition into adulthood. This has been interpreted wrongly by some as meaning that suppressing puberty will inevitably lead children to becoming transgender. ... the concern in its self suggests a transphobic premise that being transgender is an undesirable outcome. It's really not!

My concern for our children is not that being transgender is an undesirable outcome.

My concern is that having life changing surgery, becoming sterile, possibly losing some or all sexual function, having ongoing health issues, finding it harder to find a romantic or sexal partner who will date you, and that given time the child may grow up into an adult who regrest transition - all those are undesirable outcomes, and yet we're pushing children down that road in an environment where possible alternative avenues (such as examining gender critical ideas with a counseller or trying to examine other causes for being confused about gender) have been policitised to the point people are scared to even discuss them without being vilified for being transphobic.

Also there's so much misinformation going around. The main parents support group is not evidence based, it's Mermaids who have an agenda and spread propaganda - just read the blog post to see the crap this parent has ben fed about how it's all safe, and if they don't do it their child will commit suicide.

This is not a healthy environment to make life changing decisions in.

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