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Question for the Queer Community

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
...that I don't know where else to ask. Are there any transgender mamas or papas out there? If so, what I want to know is, how old were you when you realized that you weren't who everybody else thought you were? My vague guess is that homosexuality is discovered somewhere before adolescence, but transgenderedness (better term available?) comes into play much earlier, because it isn't a sexual thing? Is that right?

For a concrete and not-really-hypothetical example, if a 3.5-year-old little girl claimed that she was a boy, and had been seriously insisting on this since she had turned two, is it likely that she (he) is transgender? Or is it simply too soon to tell? It seems to me that if a kid that little can stick to something that firmly for eighteen months, and it started as soon as someone would be old enough to understand gender at all, then it's probably not a phase, right?

Anyway I don't have any good reason for asking beyond simple curiosity and looking to improve my understanding of things, so I hope I'm not being intrusive.

Thanks in advance for any replies!
post #2 of 10
I am not trans, nor do I play it on TV, however I've had these kinds of discussions with several trans friends and in academic settings. The short answer to your question: it all depends.

Some kids know, from square one, that they're a boy/girl, no matter what their body says, which may result in an identity as transsexual/transgender.

Some kids, especially at the age you mention, like the IDEA of one gender--to some families, being a boy means you get to run and play and climb trees with your big brother, but being a girl means staying inside talking on the phone to a pimply teenage boy--come on, which sounds more fun to a 2-3 year old! But this is something they may grow out of when they realize that they can still feel like a girl/boy, just one who goes against the norm to some degree (tomboy, drag queen, etc). I once dated someone who, at the time, identified only as a gender bending queer--as opposed to male or female. True, over time, hir identity moved to FTM trans, but at the time ze reveled in wearing a suit and tie to class one day, and a dress with barettes in hir "high & tight" crewcut the next.

And then there are some kids who don't know and/or don't assert this knowledge of their gender identity (who may associate first with feeling like a "butch lesbian" or a "femme" gay man because our society construed sexuality with gender) until they reach maturity at some level--whether sexual/puberty, or emotional in the late teens/early 20s.

It's all a big unknown. I feel like it's important parents are open to allowing their children to be who they are, and letting their kids know that it's OK to be a boy/girl, no matter what their biological sex is, and whether it's just today, or just this month, or until puberty, or forever. The main issues arise when a child is approaching puberty and decisions about hormones and medical intervention for altering those hormonal changes start coming up, and that's something that needs to be discussed with a supportive psychiatrist/psychologist. Yes, most of the time, if a child solidly identifies as trans (or just as a non-bio-boy/girl) and has for a good amount of time, and wants to go through hormonal therapy, this is not something that would change in the future...but kids go through puberty so early, that there is a risk that it is still a "phase", so the decision must be a careful one. Hence the SUPPORTIVE psychiatrist/psychologist who can help the parents determine the best interest of the child.

Sorry this is so long, but it's a great discussion topic!
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
KKearney1982, thanks so much for the response! I really appreciate it, and it's given me some food for thought. This is such a complicated topic, with so much gray area! I guess it is totally individual, without any overarching trends.

The child that I mentioned is most likely not, as you say, enamoured with the idea of masculinity as being more fun. It's simply not that kind of family; there aren't any restrictions or expectations based on sex/gender, or any older siblings for that matter. Everybody wears shorts, goes kayaking and climbs trees, you know? The parents are awesome, and will be totally cool with whatever works out for their kid. They let her (or him) choose all the clothing, call her Noah if that's what she wants, etc. And they live in San Fransisco, which has got to be easier than, say, a small town in Texas or something. (Which I say as a Texan, ha).
post #4 of 10
kkearney1982 covered most of what I had to say already. lol My child is trans / gender variant (MtF), and is living in her self-identified gender right now. She seems to be pretty firm about it, and we're curious to see what happens as she grows up.

I would also like to recommend this video... it's somewhat educational.
post #5 of 10
WeasleyMum, I had the opportunity to meet a woman from Transgender Youth Family Allies Friday, and she was so great. She presented at a conference I attended, and I think her organization might be helpful. http://imatyfa.org/
She addressed your question about age and children knowing their gender(s) quite well. I think they have lots of info for parents and discussion forums, too.
post #6 of 10
erthe_mama: thanks for posting that video! That was wonderful to see. What great kids those little girls and boys are and how great of their parents!
post #7 of 10
For a LONG time when I was a little kid, I insisted I was actually a boy. I would make all my family refer to me by boy names, I would only play with boys at school, and I loved action figures/toy guns/all those macho trappings. I was often confused by strangers as a boy, and I loved it! Fast forward to now. I'm a femme lesbian, who easily passes for a straight woman. I have no desire to ever transition into becoming a man. I love being a woman and I love being WITH women. I'm not prissy girly, but I enjoy looking feminine and would not feel right being either more butch or transgender. So really, it's hard to say. The most tomboyish of girls could grow up to be completely heterosexual! Our son loves trucks and playing in the mud, but also puts our high heels on constantly and loves wearing lipgloss. Who knows what he will grow up to be. The important thing is to let your children be themselves and develop their own identities. With love and support, they'll turn into good people, no matter what their gender identity or sexual orientation may become.
post #8 of 10
You're welcome, smilingsara!!

angielablau, any idea how long that "long time" was?
post #9 of 10
It pretty much lasted from when I first started talking [according to my mom] up to maybe like 7 or 8. I think at that age, I didn't want to be a boy any more, but I was still EXTREMELY tomboyish. I didn't start wanting to dress in a more feminine way until I was like 14.
post #10 of 10
Thanks for sharing!!
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