Monday, April 30, 2007

Transgender kids

I'm not usually a big fan of Barbara Walters -- I find her long on schmalz and short on substance.

But I dare anyone to watch this segment she did on transgender kids and come away still thinking gender identity is a "choice", or that these kids deserve anything other than loving acceptance.

Meet the girl who is biologically a boy (picture, above), who started wanting her gender changed at age 2 and told her parents at age six that she wanted to kill herself because she hated her body.

Or the boy who is biologically a girl. His parents at first put him in therapy to try to cure him. But now he is taking hormone treatments -- involving multiple, regular injections -- and plans to have breast-removal surgery before going to college.

Then meet the support group for transgender kids -- a place they can go and just be themselves, and not worry about what society thinks. These are often pre-pubescent kids -- not the sort interested in making a socially painful choice out of some sort of desire to be naughty.

And read about all the adjustments and precautions the family has to take in order to deal with the issue, and tell me that anybody would put up with this unless they felt it was necessary.

In addition, most everyone thinks this is a biological development, though the precise cause has not been proven:

Through the first eight weeks of pregnancy, all fetuses' brains look exactly the same: female, nature's default position. Only after testosterone surges in the womb do male brains start to develop differently. Some scientists suggest that a hormone imbalance during this stage of development stamped the brains of transgender children with the wrong gender imprint.

Now this is gender identity, a different issue from sexual orientation. But activists on both sides of the gay/straight divide tend to lump them together, so they suffer much of the same discrimination as gays -- all of it equally, if not more, unjustified.

But if biology can cause this, might it not easily cause homosexuality, too? And so perhaps understanding and compassion for transgenders will lead us toward a day when we start seeing gay people not as "deviants" that threaten society -- a claim for which there is scant evidence -- but simply as people with a different biological history who have as much right as any of us to live, love, marry and have kids. Is that so much to ask?

I think not. But for now, can we at least agree that transgenders should be left out of that debate? Their case, it seems to me, is open and shut: It's not a choice, and it's not their fault. Instead of sanctioning them when they come out, we should accept them instead.

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Blogger Laura said...

"Gender Identity Disorder" is a bona fide medical condition. It is treated both in therapy and by medical doctors. It is not a religious issue. I run a support site for the "Transgendered" and we have talked to hundreds of thousands of TG's. Our mission is to lower our 31% suicide rate. Over 50% of our untreated users have had at least 1 suicide attempt by their 20th birthday. Barbara Walters told the truth. These trans gendered children will end up as a suicide statistic if left untreated.
Our moderators are certified in youth suicide prevention and have saved thousands of lives. The only abuse being committed would be if those parents did not get their children to a qualified Gender Therapist . They alone can determine if their children have the disorder or it is just a phase or not..
If transgendered people were treated earlier as is being done now, my site would have no suicides to prevent. Instead we are swamped. All Barbara Walters is trying to do is save lives. What's wrong with that?

5/01/2007 1:40 PM  
Blogger Lyra said...

reading things like this make me extremely sad: for the major reason that i didnt come out to myself until i was 16. i know that seems like young, and yeah, i did know that i wanted to be a girl since i was 2 and a half, but i didnt discover that i could take any action until i was too old to have a childhood of my choice. the single most painful thing for me is that i was unable to have a childhood as a girl. so when i read posts about transgender kids, while you say "how terrible" (in a supportive way, im not criticizing) i think "i wish i was them, because at least the have a half-childhood"

so you saw the story, which is great, but do you know any trans folks? if not, feel free to contact me if you wish. im not ever as negative about it as when i am filled with regret. i really like enlightening people about trans stuff, so if you would like to interact, i'd like that. my email is lyrathefairie at yahoo, and that goes for anyone who reads this post too :)

and i second a lot of what laura says, with the one thing to alter, and that is that only the PERSON concerned can tell if it is a faze or not, not a therapist. at least for me. therapists are great, but they are humans, and not capable of telepathy.
thanks for letting me ramble.
love, Lyra

5/01/2007 9:25 PM  
Blogger Mark Angelo Cummings said...

more information regarding fetal development.

Mark Angelo

5/02/2007 2:34 PM  
Blogger Mackenzie said...

That's wonderful! Jazz is lucky to have such wonderful parents. I wish more transpeople had parents that were so accepting. One of my friends just announced to her mother that she was about to start estrogen therapy to begin her transition. She was freaking out the whole time she was on the phone, and she wouldn't even tell her dad (let her mom tell him).

Wow, this reminds me of when I was little. My mom took away my Barbies because it scared her that my brother loved to play with Barbies and do hair. His twin sister was always being yelled at because she refused to wear dresses or pink or lace (things I relished). Go figure that nowadays she wears miniskirts and makeup and I wear men's t-shirts :P

5/03/2007 1:40 AM  
Blogger mouton grégaire said...

The documentary is pretty good indeed. I was just stunned, though, by how clear-cut the boundaries seemed to be for all those involved – and by how supportive most of the environment reacted.
Thanks for giving the topic some publicity (I know the entry's a bit older, but google is my best buddy) - I wish any of this had been around ten years ago.
Cheers, and congrats to this blog of yours. :-)

6/15/2008 11:39 AM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Thanks. I'm not updating the blog with any regularity anymore, but I still try to respond to comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

6/23/2008 10:33 AM  
Blogger Sparkey Greenberg said...

I just saw the Walter's 20/20 show last night. She is taking risks in her career and as a result, we are all benefiting. I love this show. I can only hope that it becomes a landmark for families living with the transgender kid.

Like many American trends, we should have lost that pink for girls, blue for boys agenda a long time ago. Peraps then, we can see and hear what were looking at!

Sparkey Greenberg

4/06/2009 10:01 AM  

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