Interesting news story this morning: Transgender Youth
Interesting news story this morning: Transgender Youth
Last edited by zipperless; 09-Jun-2014 at 05:32.
I'm kind of weary of allowing children to undergo treatment at such young ages. The problem is, the mind is not developed well enough for that kind of thoughts at that age, and it doesn't fully finish developing until the early 20's. Sounding offensive is the last thing I want to do, believe me, but there's a concern with allowing young children to undergo the treatment. What if it's just a phase, or a thought? Children who are just reaching teenage years may have an idea of what their sexuality is, only to discover that it's not actually them at all later down the line. Having a moment of sexual exploration doesn't permanently change someone like being transgender does, especially if they take the treatment.
If my child believed he or she was transgender, then I'd fully support him or her and I'd do whatever I could to make sure my kid is happy with their life, but I'd still be very weary and concerned about the treatment, as there is a chance that it could be a confused thought or a way to explore oneself. When I see news stories of fathers wearing skirts with their children to the school, to show that there is nothing to be afraid of and to be who you are, I smile and I know that the father is a good father, but what if it's just a phase or a confused thought? That type of reputation wouldn't wash off, but that's just a small thing when compared to actually receiving the treatment and undergoing HRT, as that actually changes your body into something completely different. Into something new, something unchangeable after it's done.
It's just one of those things that worries me as a person, especially when it involves young children. The younger the treatment is started, the better, preferably before puberty or just around the time it begins, to my knowledge. That scares me. That's such a young age to make sure a dramatic life altering decision. If it is who they are, then I say they should go through with it, by all means. But there's always a chance that it's not as genuine or sincere a thought as they may believe it to be.
Last edited by KuroCat; 08-Jun-2014 at 23:29.
That being said: genital reassignment surgery is definantely quite permanent. But still, I don't think getting things rearranged down there is the end of the world. Lots of guys have lost their "stuff" do to injuries, disease... whatever. They are not any less of men. Strap-ons exist for a reason. I guess the biggest issue with SRS is the risks of loss of pleasure for no gain in individuals who decide they weren't trans after all.
Risk... that is really the only reason I see in not wanting to accidently let a child go through treatment. Honestly though I have never heard of a trans person doing a 180 before. It is never a phase. For that 1/2 of 1% that potentially could exist, it is not worth stopping the other 99.5% from getting what they need done.
...However, as in the article, there are younger children who /are/ given hormones. Many trans people know they're not physically 'right' from a young age, trans issues are becoming more and more visible and we're seeing (or I'm seeing, YMMV) a lot more trans children (who identify with being a boy/girl over a number of years, consistently, from a very young age) in media and online. It's totally understandable people would see trans kids and have concerns about whether it's a fleeting 'confused thought' as you put it, but usually it's something that's been present in their minds for years and most parents don't rush to accept their child as their 'new' gender immediately: the article touches on this as well. Gendermom has a really cute blog post here about attending a conference for parents of trans kids, and (briefly) mentions both the common reactions of uninformed parents (rejection) and the distress felt by trans children who are forced to undergo the 'wrong' puberty.
The fact of the matter is, it's rarely a quick or simple process to go from 'I'm a boy now' to full transition: children have to convince their parents (who are often attached to the idea of their little girl/little boy), and then they have to further convince everybody else around them who will play a part in the transition. The idea that a child could transition on a mere whim is (perhaps fortunately) folly: it is a process that can take years to begin.
I'm not saying your fears are unfounded, because I have no doubt at all there are kids who transition and later regret it: just as there are adults who transition and later regret it (or perhaps find that 'going all the way' isn't right or them). However, when you have, say, a 13 year old child with a penis who has identified as a girl for a long time, who should be starting (or have started) puberty, you have three options:
- They undergo male puberty. Given the high, high suicide rates for transgender teens and how much of this is a result of physical dysphoria, this seems risky. As you mentioned, treatment for people who transition is much more effective when started around or before puberty. I cannot even imagine the horror of a teen trans girl who (already conscious that her body is 'wrong') can only watch as her body becomes more and more masculine, with nothing she can do to prevent it. However, obviously in cases where children later decide they were wrong, this is the 'best' option, and if they're not there may be the chance to transition well later on.
- They keep taking blockers until they're 'old enough' to make a decision. This may seem like the best choice in both directions, however, taking hormone blockers for an extended period of time with no hormones has serious health consequences. There are also social consequences for a child who doesn't go through puberty at the same time as their peers: imagine being a 15 year old girl with no breasts, hips, or other external gender markers (except the one that doesn't match who you are).
- They begin taking estrogen and undergo female puberty. This lowers the risk of dysphoria and the related mental health concerns (including suicide) as a teen/adult, and eliminates the health risks related with taking anti-androgens alone. If a child decides during treatment that they no longer identify as a girl, the effects often are often partially reversible: puberty takes about 2-5 years, so it's likely to be an ongoing decision to continue taking/administering hormones. However, if a child WAS confused for the length of hormone treatment, then yes, it could result in extreme dysphoria/regret.
It's easy to see options 2 and 3 as choices and option 1 as a 'non-choice', but in each case a decision is being made. 'Do nothing' is definitely a choice in this case, and it has effects like any other. In both the 'worst case scenarios' of options 1 and 3, the child grows up into a dysphoric adult with regrets about their teen years.
However*, it is not like transgender children do not know they have the option of being their assigned gender. If a child is vehement they are this gender, and have been for a long time, they are saying this despite the fact they have been presented the opportunity to identify with their assigned gender repeatedly over their lifetime. 'Everybody knows' that little boys have penises and little girls have vaginas**, but this child is going against every message society sends about what their body means and saying despite all of that, they know they're a girl/boy.
Taken in that context, while it is definitely understandable people would be wary of making choice three, I'd personally see choice one as being a lot more risky for a child who identifies with the 'opposite' gender.
*how many times have I used 'however' in this darn post?
** non-binary people don't exist as far as most people are concerned
Last edited by CharliePup; 11-Jun-2014 at 17:48.
Being someone who is trans, and who has felt female from a very young age... I stand by the notion that "proper mental development" is minimally related to whether or not it would be a good idea to start transition... Because honestly, having gone most of my current life pretending to be male out of survival, I would have opted to transition much earlier on... My feelings of femininity were strong before the age of 20 and were strong after the age of 20...
I honestly believe that the idea that a kid doesn't have the proper though process to know what gender they are is kind of offensive... because not a day goes by that I don't WISH i would have transitioned way earlier to avoid an entire childhood of misery and depression and suicidal thoughts. The only thing that I will agree requires a more matured mind is the reassignment surgery, because that is a huge step no matter what age you are and can leave you as joyous as it could leave you traumatized (and in my opinion is only a result of living in a society where gender is so strongly based on the genitals between our legs) Seeing as transitioning is a lengthy and often PAINFUL process (emotionally), the earlier you start, the better off you are in the future... I honestly find the idea of "gender identity" requiring a certain level of maturity to be bordering on pedantic.... especially since all the trans people ive spoken to have stated that they FELT like either SOMETHING was wrong, or they knew from an age as young as 4 that they were boys or girls.... and this includes me.
My psychologists thought it was insane that a 10 year old could be developing clinical depression and suicidal tendencies because i hadn't even "lived" or gone through puberty yet. I was constantly denied any source of femininity out of fear that "i might come out gay"... and it left me wanting to kill myself many times and burying down deep inside the idea that I was ever feminine out if guilt or shame.
The way I see it ~ people who don't know what its like to have gender dysphoria can only have an academic understanding of what it actually means, and never truly have a grasp on how it feels to endure..
for the sake of knowing what hormones do ~ the only things that hormones do that arent reversible are the following:
For MTF :
- Breast growth
- Chemical castration (after a certain amount of time)
- testicular atrophy
- any hip development that is caused by epiphyseal locking (bone expansion) which usually locks between the ages of 18 - 25 (another reason why starting hormones earlier is important because for a lot of transwomen, lack of hips is a HUGE source of body dysphoria)
The rest is pretty much reversible the moment you stop taking feminizing hormones and anti-androgens. However, if the person undergoes an orchiectomy, it becomes irreversible and requires the use of Testosterone (orchiectomy is the surgical process of removing the testicles to rid natural production of testosterone, also allowing the transwoman to stop taking anti-androgens)
- Facial hair growth
- certain body hair growth areas
- voice deepening
- vocal box expansion (creating the adam's apple)
- rib cage locking (similar to the hip thing, only with men, their rib cages expand and lock at some point which they can no longer grow or shrink, another reason why starting hormones early is important)
- sterility (no more egg production)
The rest is pretty much just as reversible.
Its worth noting that MTF is the slower path than FTM because estrogen is a softer hormone than testosterone, and testosterone works MUCH faster... for most FTM's, one year results in full transition and full passability as a male, but for MTF's it can take anywhere from a year to 5 years for full feminization.
Having said all that, if my kid tells me they feel like they are a different gender than the one assigned to them at birth, (and seeing signs of dysphoria) then I will have them transition as early as legally possible.... living in the wrong body is an inexplicably painful experience that no one should have to experience.
Gender identity seems to form somewhere between the ages of 3 and 6 years old. I've seen this mentioned numerous places and it holds true for most of the trans people I've met. Something to consider when musing on whether children are 'too young' to know what gender they are. Most kids already know well before puberty, whether they're fully aware of it or not.
This is one that's a bit harder for me to respond to. I have a transgender friends, and my oldest two children know those people as well as having their own GLBQT friends. What I don't often discuss is what I dealt with when I was younger.
I spent a lot of time crossdressing as a teen, to the point that my mother took me in to see a gender specialist. My mother and stepfather had no issues with me crossdressing or wanting to be feminine, they were very supportive of it. I got put on hormone blockers for a while until I figured out what I wanted to be, the argument was, as said above, puberty would be delayed until I knew within my heart which way to go. At 16, I stopped the hormone blockers and decided I would live my life as a male.
Since then, I still feel a little bit of gender ambiguity, though I do not crossdress anymore. I've enjoyed being a husband and father, but when I had medical issues several years ago and had a bilateral orchiectomy, the ambiguity was still there, to the point I didn't have prosthetics implanted replacing the testicles and have actually only used low dose testosterone to keep energy levels up and let my libido drop.
As a teen, it can be hard to figure out sometimes what is going on. I only had an inkling when I was that age that I was not truly female inside, it took many more years and a lot of time with a counselor to truly understand who I was inside together with an understanding behind many of my younger choices.
The use of blockers before starting HRT does help quell my fears on the subject. Although I'm sure some people later go on to regret their decision of starting HRT, it's no longer as big of a problem as I thought it may have been.
I'm sure Emily and others on this forum can discuss deeper in depth how things work, more so than I can. I was on androgen blockers for a while and was taken off them when I figured out my gender identity. There is very little for me to have regrets about, I was not on them long enough and I did not go full HRT to the point it made permanent changes to my body.
I wish to God they had had androgen blockers when I was facing going through the wrong puberty. It was a freaking nightmare, and it left me with body issues that haunted me for thirty years and cost a fortune to make go away (to the extent that they have gone away). It is definitely true that, for most of us, gender identity is imprinted long before we are cognizant of it. My first conscious thought (when I could not yet have been three years old) at the time I found out that there were physiological differences between girls and boys was that I knew which one I was and that thing between my legs was just wrong and it would of course go away. I never had a single doubt, then or later, about this issue.