This board exists primarily for parents of LGBT children to swap support and advice. Others are welcome to post but please be supportive.
13 year old son says he's Transgender
WBNAS · 30/07/2021 11:18
I originally posted this in relationships section but then saw this section (new to Mumsnet! 🤦)
I am looking for general support and advice from anyone who has experience of a similar situation.
My 13 year old son recently told me he wants to be a female, has chosen a new name. This has been a complete shock as I have seen no signs of this throughout his childhood. I responded in a calm and supportive manner, told him I would love him no matter what and that I'm glad he felt able to tell me how he's feeling. He's opened up a lot about what thoughts and feelings he has since last October and I've really tried to be open and honest with him, explaining that puberty can make us question our sexuality, gender and general purpose of self all of which is completely normal. I have not trivialised what he is saying but also not taken it as definite, which he seems to accept. I'm happy for him to experiment with clothing,, hair, painting nails etc but told him I feel he needs to let puberty run its course before deciding he definitely wants to be a female. I have told him for the time-being I can't simply change his name/pronoun and he is understanding of this. When I asked him to try to pinpoint how he began to come to this conclusion, he said it started with playing Minecraft online whereby his character had been accidentally put as female and his friends were laughing at it and he had a thought 'actually I wouldn't mind being female', it has progressed from there.
A little about him - I would say a typical boy, except not much interest in sport. Has a good circle of friends, some of whom he has told and are supportive. Has had one girlfriend age 12/13 for a few months. He spends a lot of time online animating and has actually sold commissions which is what he would like to do as a career which I am fully supportive of. He is very easy going and good hearted. I do find he can be a little sneaky e.g. going to bed then getting up when the rest of the house is asleep to go back online. But in general he has never given me any trouble at all.
I would like to know how anyone in my position has dealt with this. If I'm completely honest, I am hoping this is just something he is going through and will eventually pass, this is not because I am not going to be supportive and accepting, it's because I worry for what he is going to have to deal with in life and of course I want him to have the easiest life possible. My thoughts are that he may be influenced by things he's seen online? Is this a trend as has been suggested in some things I've read?
I want to reduce his internet usage without it appearing that I am punishing him for what he's told me. I want to trial whether coming away from the internet and the engagement he has with his followers etc will make a difference. However to set parental controls to no social media for example would block him accessing his animation account on twitter/youtube which would feel like a punishment to him.
Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.
Imasoulman · 30/07/2021 16:39
There is definitely a lot of social contagion around at the moment, in his case it sounds like the idea has put in his head at a time when he may already have been confused about body changes, heightened emotions etc.
If this is really the first clue you have had of this then it seems even more likely that this could just be a phase.
I knew I was trans at a much earlier age.
It may not be though so it is important to make sure he is supported and feels he is believed.
As far as his own mental health goes I agree that letting him express himself at home would be fantastic.
If you are able to then maybe get him a few things to wear at home, use his new name etc and just see how he reacts over a few weeks.
You sound an amazing mum he is lucky.
WBNAS · 30/07/2021 19:07
@Imasoulman thanks very much for your reply. Literally seems to be out of nowhere aside from wanting to grow his hair but my partner has long hair and he looks up to him so I put it down to that. He really is the most typical boy you could meet, aside from his dislike of most sport. But I know that doesn't mean his feelings aren't real and that he may well continue this journey. The social contagion theory really seems to bed into the situation I've found us in. His texts about it seem so scripted and American, using language that is very different to how he would speak in everyday life. I have limited the internet even further for the moment so he can't access anything deemed unsuitable for under 13's, whereas I did allow social media but obviously nothing adult. Going to take it day by day and see how it pans out without the internet at play.
OhHolyJesus · 31/07/2021 22:27
This could be useful to you OP.
There is a growing body of work into ROGD in girls but there is some for boys too.
Limiting access to the internet is a wise move I think and getting outside and away from screens will help him be grounded in reality in general. He doesn't need to have an interest in sport as such, other outdoor activities and spending time with family will just ease off any pressure he is feeling from friends, social media or even just internally.
With his interest in anime are you across all of what he is exposed together? There are threads in this board about anime and I would recommend finding out more as it's not always the innocent, age-appropriate stuff but something far, far more adult in nature and online gaming where chat is open is another 'portal' into some areas which could be influencing his ROGD.
OhHolyJesus · 02/08/2021 09:28
This could help too.
QuarantineQueen · 02/08/2021 09:38
The anime stuff has alarm bells ringing for me. There's a poster on here somewhere who had terrible experiences with her children over things they were told online on anime sites, and it's a problem I've seen as a teacher too.
I think your response to be supportive, encouraging with experimenting with clothes, hair, nail varnish etc but not to make any decisions until puberty is over is exactly right. He may well turn out to be an effeminate male who loves nail varnish - encourage him and let him know that is wonderful, men can wear whatever they like! He might turn out to be trans (although with the sudden onset my guess is it's less likely) and will have had the benefit of properly exploring it and being able to experiment at home in a safe environment.
Definitely see if you can find out what sites he is on online though. Especially with the scripted texts, that sounds like he is being fed lines.
PurpleBackpack · 08/09/2021 21:06
Oh my goodness this has really got me thinking. I just stumbled across this as my nearly 16 y/o DS came out to us a couple of days ago as believing he is transgender. This has pretty much come out of the blue, there were no obvious signs and he is also massively into computers, gaming and anime. We can't help thinking something or someone has influenced him.
I'd love to hear more thoughts.
lilseb · 11/09/2021 00:32
Supporting him at home and allowing him paint nails etc sounds great. I would just be slightly mindful that this could be a pernament thing rather than just a trend. Maybe if he is able to express himself he will find himself comfortable as a boy; at this point just try to support him exploring this, rather than putting pressure on to try and stop it.
Imasoulman · 11/09/2021 13:50
Coming out as Trans at that age is always especially difficult for the parents.
If there has genuinely never been any sign of this in the past then my gut feeling is that this is a phase.
Of course it's always possible that they have been battling with these feelings and emotions for years, also possible that you may have missed the clues.
Would your family dynamics mean that they could explore these feelings within the home?
I always think that clothes and at their age perhaps some make up to experiment at home with is a great and pretty harmless way to begin exploring.
Depending on how they feel, embarrassment level etc you could shop online together or they may feel more comfortable if you initially shop for them.
Clothes, names , pro nouns etc in the home are all good ways of living that life for a while without doing anything that can't easily be reversed.
CatsOperatingInGangs · 11/09/2021 13:59
This podcast might be useful for you. It’s by two therapists that work with gender questioning teens.
louisvillelou · 11/09/2021 14:03
OP this is not the best site to ask for advice, it is not a very trans affirming place. I can suggest a few useful resources if you PM me. Just for the record, though, ROGD isn’t a real phenomenon, so please don’t go down that rabbit hole.
Wishing you and your DC the best x
JellySlice · 11/09/2021 14:13
Quite true that MN is not a trans-affirming site. MNetters on the whole are more concerned with safeguarding. With protecting children from grooming and consequently making choices that could harm them or be irreversible.
Whether or not ROGD exists (a strange thing to say, given that it is exactly what the OP is describing) it is known that the majority of trans-presenting or gender-id-questioning children will desist by the time they become adults. Therefore it is sensible to allow them to explore their feelings without making any commitments.
BeanieSue · 11/09/2021 14:25
It sounds like you are already approaching it in a very sensitive way and your child obviously trusts you. What about having a look here: bayswatersupport.org.uk
To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.