A little while ago I watched Louis Theroux’s documentary about transgender kids. I was completely engrossed by the show and the stories of children not knowing, or in fact knowing if they are in the right body or if they are the right gender.
Since watching the show I have struggled to decide if it is right for children to be having gender consultations, therapy and in some cases drugs for a gender re-assignment. I will say though that it is the fundamental right of any human being to be who they want to be, and that choice must never be taken away, whatever their age.
One particular case I found of particular interest to me was that of a five year old boy who decided and told his parents that he wanted to live his life as a girl. This resonated with me because I have five year twin girls, and it got me thinking and actually it was a very deep thought that kept me awake for a couple of nights about how I would handle this situation if one of my twin girls decided they wanted to be a boy.
The parents of this five year old boy decided to attend a clinic for consultations and try to find out if in fact the little boy wanted or needed to be a girl. The therapist in charge concerned me if I’m honest with the belief that making a picture in sand could actually give some valuable information about how the five year old was feeling and genuinely felt they were a girl in a boys body. The picture he created in the sand could have easily been done by either of my twin girls.
I personally think Louis Theroux is one of the best documentary makers around today especially on what are considered controversial subjects. A couple of questions he asked left me feeling even more unsure about transgender kids. The first question was to the therapist. He asked her what if at five years old you go down the route of gender re-assignment and 10 years later the person says it was a mistake. Surely waiting until a person can fully understand the decision of gender change is a better way forward? At five years old, your ability to understand such a huge decision is not there. Louis asked the five year old why do like being a girl, and the reply was shocking because it completely highlighted their lack of understanding of such a massive decision that will make their lives more difficult as well as a lifetime of drugs to balance their hormones. Anyway, their reply was it’s more fun being a girl. Surely that is not a reason to start a child of just five years old on their transgender journey.
Back to my original thought now. How would I cope and deal with the situation, if one of my five year twin girls said they wanted to be boy. If I’m honest I’m not really sure, although I am sure that my decision would be not to ignore or dismiss the idea, but to encourage that it would be something that they could decide upon as they get older and more understanding of everything that is involved. Although I might add that I would never stand in their way, and support them, because I would not want to lose my child.
There were many children interviewed on the show of various ages and at times especially with the teenagers, I felt confident that what they were doing what was right for them, but overall I felt they were far from 100% certain. But that could likely be the case as far as adults are concerned. It is after all a life changing decision that there is no turning back from.
One particular dads comment will stick in my mind for a long time. It was not that he was against his 8 year old son wanting to be a girl, but he refused to allow it on the basis that in ten years time his child decided it was a mistake and the father will have the burden of having to live with a decision that he made for his child. This leads me to think that yes if you want to change your gender wait until you are of an age that it is solely your decision.
How would you deal with your child telling you that they want to change gender? I would love to hear your thoughts.