Transgender Kids 

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.

25 thoughts on “Transgender Kids 

  1. I’ve had these same thoughts Nigel, since I listened to a radio programme on this subject.

    I agree at that age children are too young to make an informed decision.

    It’s a tough one alright and one that I’m sure unless you are in that situation thinking about just leaves more and more questions.

    #thatfridaylinky

  2. Really interesting thoughts on a complex issue. I doubt I have the mental energy to really run through such scenarios in my head for my little girl – it sounds exhausting! I’ll have to try and track down the show, it all sounds very interesting. #ThatFridayLinky

  3. What a very thought provoking post. I love Louis Theroux’s documentaries although I haven’t seen this one. I think, I could think and assume I’d know how I would react but I bet it’s just like becoming a parent. (In a sense that, pre kids I had all these thoughts and ideals but nothing could actually prepare me for what lay ahead and wasn’t until I was in it that I really understood it with all it complexities)
    #thatfridaylinky

  4. I too watched the documentary and was left feeling quite concerned. Such consequential decisions being made by and for such young children. Like you, I’m of the opinion that a child should wait until they fully understand the ramifications themselves before making such life-changing alterations. If a young child wants it that badly and they know they’re being listened to, they should understand the reasoning for delaying such an involved process. Always hard watching these programmes as a parent now! Good food for thought. #ThatFridayLinky

  5. I think it is a very tough subject. For me, it would be hard at first to come to terms with but I’d fully accept and support my child in their decision.

    Ultimately you can’t expect a person to live a life in which they don’t feel themselves. If one of my children was gay it wouldn’t affect a single thing between myself and them.

    I’d actually be extremely proud of them as they’ve had the courage to express how they feel and that is a massive step.

  6. I didn’t watch the documentary but it’s a very topical subject and I’d say wait until their old to make their own choice. I think as a society we place too much emphasis on gender with kids – toys, games, books that are pink or blue etc. We should just let them be kids and enjoy what they enjoy. If it means a boy dressing up as a girl then fine but I don’t think what a 5 year old says needs to be taken literally all the time.

  7. I started watching it, then realised I’d seen it previously and just couldn’t watch it again, for most of the reasons which you’ve highlighted. I too felt they were far too eager to give drugs to young children. I have no issue with children wanting to live as the opposite gender, but you can allow them to do so without going the whole hog at such young ages. I agree with the dad who refused to make that choice for his child. #thatfridaylinky x

  8. Really well said Nige. I completely agree with all of this. I often find being a gay man som epeople put being gay, transgender, non-binary all in the same boat but they are all so individual. Being gay isn’t a choice, it’s a sexual preference. Gender identitys go immensely deeper than sexual preference. It’s not about sex 99% of the time, it’s inside of you. At five years old, that’s way too young to make a decision. I like what you said about waiting til you’re 18 so the decision is yours and solely yours. IF, and it’s a big if, you realise further into the process you have made a mistake, then it’s down to you. It’s all so tricky isn’t it? I guess it’s case by case because the last thing we ever wnat is our kids to hide who they are or what they want. It’s so hard. I’ll always remember my brothers mates growing up laughed at me for playing with My Little Pony and mum had a go at them… she supported me no matter what i wanted to do. Exactly how it should be. Great post!

  9. We watched that documentary with great interest and concern because my boy (5 at the time) used to use phrases like ‘I feel like a girl inside’, ‘I feel different’, ‘I don’t like boys things’. He wanted pink rooms and dolls and was very affectionate and effeminate. He wanted to play with girls, not boys and had no interest in sport. Fairies and imaginative play were his thing.

    I see both sides of the argument; if you’re in the ‘wrong body’ then the sooner it’s resolved the better, however if we’d plied ahead into that line of things we’d be in a big mess right now. The little man is just a happy poster boy for gender neutrality and it’s since transpired that he has dyspraxia (which makes him think a little differently, affects self consciousness and makes sports more difficult for him). Our thought process at the time was wait and assess but we were ruling out checking out if he may be transgender. We were open to it happening and all the challenges it would bring. We’d love him:her unconditionally but jumping in too quickly and being wrong (as it appears we would have been) would have had huge implications in our child’s life.

    Another great post.

  10. Great post – I’m always interested in docs like this, and I’m always a bit torn as to whether children of that age can really make such a big decision. Regarding your quote from the little boy, I wonder whether it is that he doesn’t understand the consequences of that decision, or is it that he just doesn’t know how to articulate his feelings properly yet. It seems to me that people of all ages facing the same dilemma can sometimes struggle to find the words to explain how they feel. Can’t imagine what it must be like for these parents to have to make these decisions.

  11. I’ve just drafted a similar post actually and will have to watch that documentary now. I think it’s such a tough one to call, you wouldn’t want your child to live their life miserable for being the “wrong” gender but equally what if they changed their mind? thanks for hosting #thatfridaylinky

  12. For one so young, the consequences of making the wrong decision would be disastrous. In fact I recall a documentary some years ago about an Iraqi man who had settled in the UK. Deciding he wanted gender re-alignment, he had it. Several years later, decided it was a mistake and was going to have surgery so he could revert back to being male. Point being, even adults can regret such a major decision. Sure, there are those who know from a very young age. I guess the risk is you are, in these circumstances, condemning them to an unhappy childhood if you don’t permit the surgery at a young age. I think it’s a case of each case is unique but rushing to a decision would be wrong. Thanks for hosting #thatfridaylinky

  13. Very complex topic. I don’t have the right answers but hope I would love my child whatever decisions they wanted to make on such matters. As time goes on and so much stuff in the news is so very challenging, I wonder if we need to really come to terms with valuing “people” rather than specific genders or identities but as I say I don’t have the right answers. I think you are brave to post on this topic in the current climate.

  14. This is such a great post.
    I watched this too and I was uncomfortable with the 5 year old for exactly the same reasons you point out. Many, many children play around with their gender at this age and it may be that they grow up to be gay or transgender but it also may be that they dont. They are exploring their identity in the same way that they play with different toys. However, I have read a lot about this and I think that many transgender people feel they were born in the wrong body from toddlers and that feeling becomes very stressful the older they get. This is why some therapists believe that tackling this early is better for the long term mental health of their patients. I feel caution is a better view. Let a 5 year old wear and play with what they want but change their name and gender? No I think wait. Wait until puberty and perhaps give them puberty blockers and when they are about 15/16, let them make their choice. It’s such an emotive and hard thing though and I felt for the parents when they said they had to grieve for the child they thought they had. #thatfridaylinky

  15. I think children are too young to make such a committed, life altering decision. By all means, let them live as a different gender if that’s what will make them feel happy and complete, but the step to make physical changes to their body is not one to make lightly.
    #thatfridaylinky

  16. I have no idea how I’d respond in that situation. I truly believe that some children of that age DO feel/know that they were born as the wrong gender. But how can you differentiate between the children who do actually need to undergo gender reassignment surgery and those who aren’t going to feel like that forever? I’d be supportive, but I think the risks are too great at that age to start making any big decisions. #ThatFridayLinky

  17. Gosh this is tough one to call, it’s important that you support your child and want them to be happy but could they change their mind as they grow #thatfridaylinky

  18. I’ve watched shows on this before and they said that five year olds KNOW that they were born into the wrong body. I struggle with this as most five year olds change their minds on everything so often. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not against any f this. If my children said this to me I wouldn’t ignore it but then I would start them on a journey that could be the wrong decision.
    I understand what the ‘professionals’ say that it is ‘easier’ to start the journey pre-puberty but just because it is ‘easier’ doesn’t mean it is right. I think explore their emotions and feelings and then when they can make an informed decision then they can make it. #ThatFridayLinky

  19. I also feel like children can explore roles without making the permanent commitment of surgery until they are legally old enough to do so for themselves. We always argue that kids need to be tried in court as kids because their brains are not fully developed like an adult. I believe the argument should be the same for gender reassignment. If a boy identifies as a girl, she can use the girl’s restroom, change in a girl’s locker room, dress as a female and be referred to as a she throughout her growing up. No one needs to be concerned about what is under the clothing – she can then decide on surgery when she is an adult. This way you respect the child’s feelings without the permanent decision they may regret.

    Bravo to you for being open-minded, there is no better gift you can give to someone! #ThatFridayLinky

  20. I like to think I’d be ok with it, but untill it happens you never know, will we as parents overthink it? it is such a lifechanging decision, but who are we to stop them if they’re unhappy?? it is such a difficult position to be in!
    I do not think a five year old can comprehend the decision of changing gender though. It doesnt matter how intelligent they are, im sorry. They wont get it! #thatfridaylinky

  21. What a tough topic, and a hot one too. Gender fluidity, male, female, them, they… The best you can do as a parent is, to listen, be supportive, seek assistance, and stay open. Who knows just how much we don’t know! I will look out for this documentary. Thanks, for this post. xo #ThatFridayLinky

  22. This is such an interesting post! I really enjoyed that documentary to and it certainly does get you thinking. It’s such a tough one for me as I strongly believe that everyone should be able to be whoever they are without judgement. But would I allow my child to change gender at such a young age, probably not. Although I can’t be sure to be honest. I do know I would always listen, be supportive and understand, although I am swaying towards them being old enough to be responsible for their decisions. It’s a tough one! #ThatFridayLinky

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