Thursday, September 03, 2009

Transgender Kids

I ran across an article today about a transgender boy that had his breasts removed at the age of 15. I've seen stories on television showing grade-school aged kids living as transgedered. Honestly, I'm not sure what I think.

I hear the stories about how much happier these kids are once they live life according to the gender they feel comfortable in. Parents tell stories about how letting their children make the transition (either partially or totally) has basically saved their kids lives. And, honestly, I see where they are coming from. I'm sure it's liberating to see a depressed, unhappy child come out of his or her shell to live life to it's fullest.

But. How young is too young? Letting a boy take on the persona of a girl at a young age is one thing. But, hormone treatments at 12? Breast removal at 15? These are huge decisions where there is often no turning back. You have to be at least 18 to get a tattoo because of the irreversible nature of the procedure. Obviously a tattoo and a transgender youth aren't the same thing, but the idea is the same. This is an irreversible procedure for the most part.

Kids are kids, and unfortunately their decisions aren't always thought out. I'm not going to say that this boy or any other transgender youth isn't going to be transgender forever, but shouldn't we at least wait until he is older before we go down this track? I don't know, call me right wing if you must, but I just can't get behind this one.


At 3/9/09 10:11 AM, Blogger Queers United said...

Well just imagine if you were forced to be a woman until someone said now you can decide at a certain age. You would feel horrible, confused, and miserable, perhaps suicidal. You can't force someone to live the way they are not supposed to. Transition is a medical, psychological, and emotional necessity.

At 3/9/09 10:25 AM, Blogger Jaynatopia said...

transition is considered by care providers to be medically necessary treatment. A tattoo isn't. It's probably best to realize unless you have those feelings you can never gauge what its like and may have to value the testimony of those who do have those feelings.

At 3/9/09 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the more reason to pressurise the NHS to allow kids to take hormone blockers. These would allow them the time to decide who they wanted to be before having to make an irreversible decision.

At 4/9/09 12:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the well-meaning folk who insist that 12 is just too young, that ts-identified children should be made to wait until they're 18 because they're just too young - these are people who are ignorant about the reality of life for ts people.

Waiting until you're 18 means waiting while puberty does its work on your body. For someone like this blogger who is male and who identifies as male, that's not a bad thing. To him, it's probably great to start growing facial hair, for his voice to drop, to grow an Adam's apple, large bones, including large hands and feet, a square jaw, a protruding brow-bone - all the things that mark him as a male. For a female-to-male child, growing breasts, wide-hips and menstruating are equally agonizing.

For trans-identified youth, whether male-to-female or female-to-male, it's like watching your body being morph into a werewolf in excruciating, agonizing slow-motion.

Some male puberty changes can be partially reversed through expensive facial feminization surgery but most are irreversible. An analogous paradigm describes the female-to-male experience. And even if the changes are reversible, the psychological scars imprint indelibly.

Why force any child to go through anything so hideous? Because you think they're too young to know their own minds, that someone like you who really knows jack knows better?

Kids like the one in the article are screened very very carefully. The decision to undergo any of these procedures is not made in haste, on a whim or out of ignorance. It is never a snap decision. Typically, it is made only after careful screening by psychological professionals, with the consent of parents who had to be convinced that early intervention is right for their child because the child has identified consistently as ts for several years.

Perhaps you think your posture (to wait) reflects your maturity and high level of responsibility. It doesn't. It's knee-jerk, nothing more. It speaks of a profound ignorance. Did you know that to-date, none of the trans-identified children who go through one of these early intervention programs has ever regretted his/her decision?

At 8/9/09 10:05 AM, Blogger Brady said...

Queers and Jaynatopia--I never said that transition is not a necessity. I'm not against it at all. I was questioning whether or not we should consider a minimum age for this, especially considering there are certainly some people that come to the decision that transitioning was not the best route for them. I'd rather have an adult make that decision than a child. What age that would be I don't know.

First anonymous- I agree.

Second anonymous- I'm not saying I'm not ignorant about the life of trans youth. I think I was pretty upfront about that. And, I see your point. As the first anonymous said--there are possible alternatives, including hormone blockers that are short of full surgery. I admit to not knowing the extent to which these possible solutions are effective, but they are certainly alternatives.

As I said earlier, I am not against surgery and haven't made up my mind on whether surgery is appropriate for children or not--I'm just wondering outloud about whether or not it is the right thing to do.

I appreciate your response--that's why I made the post, but I'm not sure your last paragraph was all that necessary. I was merely questioning something--not launching a boycott and certainly not trying to prove how mature I am.

At 21/9/09 4:12 PM, Blogger Jay said...

Just as a question. Are there any statistics for transgender individuals who have decided to re-transition back? I don't know much about the subject but I was wondering if there were cases where someone transitioned and then regretted it and went back.

At 23/9/09 3:29 PM, Blogger Brady said...

Hey Jay- I haven't seen any statistics, but my understanding is that the number of kids that have tranisitioned in the first place is very low, meaning it's hard to follow.

After a lot of thought, I understand more (I think) where some of the commenters of my post are coming from (although certain ones could have done it more tactfully). Not to say that I am in complete agreement. I still think the question of "how young is too young" is a fair one. Although I do understand weighing the importance of it against the needs of transgendered kids.

At 24/9/09 11:26 AM, Anonymous Matty V said...

You would never tell a boy that he is too young to feel like a boy, know he's a boy, want to live as a boy.

At 25/9/09 8:35 AM, Blogger Brady said...

Matty- I see your point.

BUT- I just read the article in the NYT about gay middle schoolers (I linked it on a status updated on my FB), and even then, when the 11 and 12 year olds in the story were coming out as gay and bi, my first reaction was, "how can they know when they're so young?"

I'm gay too, and I still thought that. I had a few straight crushes when I was that age, but that was obviously fleeting.

There's just so much going on in those years. Maybe my problem is I don't trust myself enough at that age and I am projecting on them.

At 25/9/09 10:45 AM, Blogger Jay said...

Oh, I wasn't asking about kids who have transitioned. I was asking about people who have transitioned, period.

At 25/9/09 11:58 AM, Blogger Brady said...

Jay- gotcha. I haven't seen any studies, though I have read a few stories, including that sports writer. Although, there are numerous reasons people transition back--not simply because they no longer feel they are the wrong gender. I guess I need to go look into this more.

At 25/9/09 2:44 PM, Anonymous Matty V said...

I knew I was gay since I was very very young.

And like that article pointed out, we would tell a young boy that he is just going through a phase because he likes a girl.

As a society, we are uncomfortable with youth sexuality. We are even more uncomfortable with youth sexuality that we don't think is "normal."

Sadly, we still don't think of being gay as "normal."

Instead we see gay kids and hope that they'll grow out of it because we think of it as something bad.


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