Looks like I can get this blog thing figured out about once a year.
So this morning I was on facebook, and someone I play Pathfinder with linked an article.
I posted a pretty long reply to this post, but before anyone yells at me, I was just pointing out that this article is a fair look at things. Sometimes I worry now that we are too quick to notice our children not acting within ‘acceptable gender norms’ and therefore make the shift into pushing them to be the opposite gender. Sometimes this is to the benefit of the child. Sometimes to the detriment.
This is my comment from that post:
This is kind of the danger of how we look at transgenderism now. There are children out there who truly know they are not the gender they were assigned at birth and the parents are doing right by them to work towards transition. For other kids it could be “just a phase” and if parents are too quick to jump the gun, it could mean a lifetime of unhappiness because again, they’re being forced into gender norms and roles that, sure they wanted to try for a while, but were ultimately unhappy with.
the best solution is to listen to your child. If your son likes to wear nail polish or girls clothing, let him. It’s okay. You don’t have to start introducing him as a girl unless that’s what he wants. By the time the child shows that this is truly not a phase they will have the communication skills needed to say that they WANT to be the other gender. And even at that point, changing clothes and hair isn’t a huge thing. Don’t MAKE that boy wear a dress, let him/her CHOOSE to wear a dress or jeans and a feminine shirt. By the time it starts mattering (puberty) the child will probably know for sure if they feel the need to transition. And if not, there are medications that will block puberty for a while so they have more time before they need to truly make a decision. This is where doctors come in. A psychiatrist well-versed in gender issues is a must at this point, and maybe even a little earlier. Also doctors who can inform you as to how Hormone Replacement Therapy works and what kind of changes will occur and when to make that decision. The point is not to force the child into being one or the other until they can honestly say which one they want to be.
What is not okay is forcing the child into a single gender. This is where things can get dark. The children are told they’re wrong, that ‘God doesn’t make mistakes’, that their feelings are not worth listening too. They go quiet. They stop talking about things to their parents because, hey, they aren’t going to listen anyway. Then puberty hits and that boy who really, really wants to be a girl starts hating himself for his broad shoulders, the body hair that won’t stop growing, the way razors cut his face when he tries to get rid of any semblance of beard so hard but has sensitive skin that doesn’t like razors. Puberty is that magical time when we get our secondary sexual characteristics and that boy who wishes he could grow a chest and that girl who wishes she could have facial hair and look like one of the boys end up with bodies that make them uncomfortable, and even suicidal, potentially for the rest of their lives.
Basically what I am saying is to listen to your child. If your son likes feminine things, let him. If your daughter wants to play football and go hunting and work on cars, let her. Teach them both everything you can to make the world an easier place. There are plenty of things both girls and boys should learn: how to dance, how to change a tire, how to cook more than a TV Dinner, how to cook vegetables so they actually taste good. How to be a good person. How to be a good parent. Just because your son likes dresses doesn’t mean he wants to grow up to be a girl. Just because your daughter’s a tomboy doesn’t mean she wants to be a boy. But maybe they do. Listen to the child. Research what they’re going through. And don’t make any decisions that are irreversible until you are as sure as you can be that this is the right thing to do. As much as being labelled transgender can be a blessing for some kids, for some it might end up being a curse.
Sorry for the long post, but clearly I have a lot of feelings on this topic. As a man who wanted to be a woman but was forced to grow up a man, I can understand what this post is saying and even agree to some degrees. But hey, everyone’s mileage may vary. That’s the spice of life. Everyone is different. This blog author was a tomboy and grew up to be happy as a woman. That’s awesome. That doesn’t mean transgenderism doesn’t exist. Ryland may choose to transition, she may choose not to. I only hope that her parents listen to her and don’t force her to be one or the other but let her become the PERSON she was meant to be.
Are you still with me? Good.
There isn’t a lot left for me to add, I just felt that this needed a whole new post for itself. Obviously, there has been a lot of talk about transgenderism and children and the danger of allowing children to be themselves. The so-called ‘bathroom bills’ being passed around the US are clearly hogging a lot of the spotlight and in my opinion should truly be repealed for the good of everyone. Transgender people don’t want to go into a bathroom to assault people. If that is the case then it is that one person, and there’s something wrong with them. It’s not BECAUSE they are trans. Mostly we just want to go to the bathroom in peace and hopefully without getting beat up, insulted, made fun of, or the amazing list of things that can happen to ANYONE in a public bathroom, male, female, trans, whatever.
Getting a bit off topic here. Sorry.
Just because your daughter is a tomboy, doesn’t mean they will transition to being a full-on male. Same with your son who likes pink and playing with dolls. Some kids, some people, just prefer different things. Sometimes there are reasons behind it, sometimes there really aren’t. The important thing is to listen to your child. If your son goes to you and says, ‘hey, I think I should be a girl.’ don’t tell him he’s wrong, don’t tell him that its a sin, don’t yell or get mad or tell him what boys are supposed to do and forbid him from doing the feminine things that make him happy. On the flip side, don’t immediately get rid of all his boy clothes and replace them with dresses and pink shoes and paint his walls pink. This COULD truly be a phase. You don’t know. Let them play with their gender. Let them find what’s comfortable for them. Research with them. Learn with them. Let them explore. Let them experiment and nine times out of ten by the time it comes to HRT and puberty, they will have a better idea of who they want to be. Maybe they’ll stay a boy. Maybe they’ll transition to a girl. Maybe they’ll stay somewhere in the middle. You don’t HAVE to be a boy or a girl. You can be in the middle. You can be both. You can be neither. Gender is a spectrum. There’s more than two answers.
That’s the most important thing I have to say today: There’s more than two answers.
Let your kids be kids. The only thing you can do wrong is by making them think that THEY are wrong. Once that happens every decision your child makes until they are old and grey will be a war with themselves between what they feel is right and what their parents pushed on them. Let them be who they want to be. Support them in any way you can.
I know what you’re thinking. The world is a cruel place. You don’t want your child to grow up trans/gay/lesbian/other because that will make their lives harder. You don’t want to see them suffer. Well, guess what? Life sucks. People suffer. Kids suffer for having different hair color. Kids suffer for liking things the other kids don’t like. Kids suffer for being smarter than their classmates. Adults suffer for all the same things, but we learn to hide it, to mock what we really like because we want to fit in. We have to stop teaching the next generation to ‘fit in’. We need to teach them to stand out, to be their own person. The world is not the same as it was ten, twenty, thirty years ago. Things have changed. We have to change with them.
WE HAVE TO CHANGE WITH THEM.
So don’t tell boys that they can’t grow their hair long. Don’t tell girls they can’t cut their hair short. Don’t say things like ‘boys don’t wear dresses’ or ‘girls play with dolls, not trucks’.
Let your kid be a kid.
Be open. Be honest. Don’t blame them.
Be a parent.
I’m about to go be one right now.