Transgender 7yo

Katherine - posted on 03/02/2011 ( 43 moms have responded )

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re-posted from cafemom

What if your 7-year-old son liked to wear sequined dresses, preferred to play with Barbies instead of WWE action figures, and wanted to be referred to by a girl’s name instead of a boy’s? Where would you stand? How would you feel?

Lisa Ling's new show, Our America, on the Oprah Winfrey Network, introduced the country to a first grader in "Transgender Child: A Parent's Difficult Choice." His parents named him Harry. But when Harry was 5, he decided he wanted to be called Hailey because he felt more like a girl than a boy. His mom and dad, not knowing quite what to do, indulged his request.

Now the child has completely taken on the identity of a little girl. And his parents, a conservative Christian couple who may have had some preexisting notions about what’s right and wrong from a Biblical perspective, were challenged to rethink everything they believed about gender and sexuality for the love of their baby, their second son turned their only daughter.



Seeing a child feel so strongly about his or her gender at such a young age that they ask to be called by a new name is enough to make any adult take pause. One thing we grown-ups can envy about kids is their inherent freedom to be their real, authentic selves — no pretensions, no baggage. By the end of elementary school, of course, they’re well on their way to being squeezed through the ringer of social conditioning, and their families, teachers, mentors, coaches, and other trusted adults put the finishing touches on those rigid expectations that box them in: Boys play rough and are good with numbers. Girls dress up with makeup and heels and read books. Blah blah blah.

But Hailey’s young life goes way, way beyond those crummy norms, and her parents have created a safe, nurturing environment where she can live comfortably and have friends and lead a relatively normal life, sans Lisa Ling and her camera crew stopping by to document her story. And while Hailey’s mother and father have my utmost respect for their obvious love and patience and their empathy for their child’s uniqueness, I have to wonder if they’re doing the right thing for her.

Part of a parent’s job description is to guide, shape, prepare, and love our kids, so that means we’d be crazy to play into our children’s whims and phases and let them run the show (although I know plenty of liberal, free-swingin’ moms and dads who do). It’s one thing to give the middle finger to that traditional boy/girl baggage and let your kids defy social convention. It’s quite another to let them adopt a completely different lifestyle, assume a completely different identity, and take on a completely different name when they’re not even old enough to write in cursive. I would let my daughter pick out what she wanted to wear when she was 5. It was an exercise in choice, a show of independence. I would not, however, let her tell me that she no longer wanted to be a girl and accept her moves to not be one.

I don't believe that children have the tools and information they need to make informed, reasonable decisions about their lives. It’s the reason responsible parents don’t let their kids get tattoos when they’re 10 or why they’re not allowed to ring in their 12th birthday with a shot of Patron. So certainly creating a completely new personhood based on not feeling like the gender they were born into seems like too much control for someone who, at the age Hailey made her transgender declaration, shouldn’t even be crossing a busy street by themselves.

This could very well be one of those normal phases that a child goes through, but I’m not naïve enough to say with certainty that Hailey will grow up and out from the desire to live her life as a young woman. She may not, and that’s cool. There will be more challenges piled on top of the load of crap that's already the companion messiness of adolescence. But until then, I think her mom and dad need to step their parenting game up because in the process of “letting her be herself,” she may end up not finding her real self at all.

How would you handle your child's desire to lead a transgender lifestyle?

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JuLeah - posted on 03/02/2011

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I watched this show and just balwed. I know so many Trans adults who spent most of their lives feeling insane, wishing they were dead. Some even attempted to take their lives.



Most don't have families anymore, as their parents turned them out.



They have been so battered and beaten by life. But this little girl won't face that. Yes, she lives in a world that defines so much based on penis or no penis, but she has her family.



She won't ever attempt to take her life or wish she were dead. She has a chance at a childhood that most folks who are trans can only dream about.



These parents are my heros!!



Understand, this is not about fashion, or choice, or desire for pink over blue. Folks that are Trans have the body of one gender and the brain of the other gender.



All research indicates that gender idendity is found in the brain, not the underpants.



Every person I know that is Trans tells me they KNEW by the age of 3 that they were in the wrong body. And, from the age of three, started to think and came to believe they were insane. How sad is that?



This little girl will be save from all of that pain, and again, I say, these parents' are my heros.



And, understand too, this has nothing to do with sexual orientation. This little girl will likley grow to be a het woman. She will likey date and partner with men.



Ohh, and this little didn't 'make this choice' when she was five. She started to refer to herself as a girl when she was just two. In pre-school, she drew herself, in every picture, as a girl. She used the female pro-noun when speaking about herself. She wanted dresses, not 'boy clothes' by the age of three and four. She formally changed her name and started living the life of a girl at the age of five. Her parents' have consluted many many professionals in an effort to understand their chld. All the experts said the same thing, "Your kid is Trans" So, the parents made effort to figure out what that meant and how that would impact their lives. Letting their daughter be the person she feels she is, was the best choice the parents could make.



They could do what many parents so, punish, shame, blame, insult, degrade .... but they love their kid more then they love their neighbors opinion of them as parents. Again, they are my heros

Bronwyn - posted on 03/05/2011

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I met Hailey's mother Barb when Hailey was just 2 years old (and still known as Harry). There is no doubt in my mind that there is a reason that Hailey was given Barb as her mother. Barb is not naive - she knows that this is going to be a long, difficult, and painful road for Hailey and their entire family. She knows that this challenges most of our worldviews including EVERYTHING we believe about gender. This was not a decision that was made lightly, and I can assure you that this is not a case of indulging Hailey in a passing "whim or phase". Nor does Hailey "run the show" in their home. This is also not about Hailey simply "wanting" to be a girl and liking the color pink. Hailey IS a girl who was born with a boy's body. Hailey has been trying to communicate this since before she could verbalize it. Just because Hailey is only 7 years old, doesn't mean we can't learn from her.

I don't know if I would be able to do what Barb and Steve are doing for Hailey - not because I don't think they have made the right decision, but because I just don't know if I am that brave. I'd like to think that I am but, truth be told, I will probably never find myself in a situation like this where I will have to find out. But if by chance I do, at least I'll know that I am not alone.

Krista - posted on 03/03/2011

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Exactly.

Gender identity is in the brain, not the DNA or the genitals. And gender identity is as irrefutable, natural and undeniable as artistic talent or shyness. You can't force a shy child to become gregarious and outgoing. And by trying, you only make things worse. And you can't make a talented child UNtalented. It's just part of who they are, and denying them that part will only make them miserable.

Gender identity is the same. Nobody's suggesting hormone therapy or anything like that at such a young age. However, if the child truly and genuinely insists that they are the opposite gender, then who the hell are we to say "no you're not."? They may be too young to make certain decisions, but they're not so young that we know their innermost being better than they do.

What those parents are doing is providing a safe haven from a world that WILL keep telling the child, "You don't know your own mind. You're wrong to feel the way you do. You have to be what we tell you you are, even if it feels like a great big lie."

Lucy - posted on 03/03/2011

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I think these parents are fantastic!

It breaks my heart to think that there must be kids out there who feel the same way, but either cover it up because they know their parents won't accept it, or spend their lives being told their feelings and innate sense of self are wrong. Being hit with that message every day is going to have a seriously detrimental effect on a person's self esteem, whatever some DNA test might say. There is a reason why the level of adolescent suicides is disproportionately high among transgendered young people.

What if the child in question "fails" the aforementioned DNA test? What are you going to say to that kid? Sorry honey, although every fibre of your being tells you that you are a girl, it hurts you to be called a boys name and forced into stereotypically male pursuits, and you need the people you love to recognise who you are... This little cotton swab from your cheek says that your feelings and sense of self are entirely invalid to me, so suck it up?!

If this issue arose with one of my children at such a young age, sure, I wouldn't be rushing out to get them female hormones or surgery, but I would support them in their development as the person they are, so that when they are adults they are confident, balanced, happy human being comfortable with their own identity. Then they will be equipped to make the decision to go through any permanent physical changes they feel necessary.

In my view, the child in the OP isn't trying to change who she is- She is just trying to become accepted for who she is already. Thank goodness her parents are loving and enlightened enough to give her the help and support she needs to do it.

[deleted account]

My pastor would have a cow, but since I have known so many nontraditional lifestyles people, I cannot listen to sermon parts that say it's a slap in GOD's face to think homosexuality is natural or a creation of his, the great spirit's, the deity's or whoever float's your boat. It's just so damn obvious, non-heteros have been around since sexual reproduction began. I know it's right and I know I'm NOT going to get struck down for knowing it.



If my son comes to me with any gender or sexual orientation news, he's going to have the same Mom as before, only I'll have someone to march in the "Let Them Marry" marches and he'll have someone to go to the Drs. office with.



It's a hard situation especially coming from more conservative backgrounds, we might lose half of our family, but maybe we don't like them anyways!



To the parents of kids born both genders, my prayers are with you.



What I really hate is when parents decorate their children in thier own eyes. BEFORE the child has the choice.

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43 Comments

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Try - posted on 10/09/2012

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I just hope their not wrong. Most prepubescent kids change their mind once puberty really sets in - if they're right, they she gets the best start possible, but if they're wrong....

Jennifer - posted on 04/11/2011

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i have to pull a quote from my fave tv show, glee. if you don't watch, one of the main characters is a gay teen male. upon coming out to his dad, his father tells him, "Your job is to be you. My job is to love you, no matter what". I think that sums up parenthood better than anything I've ever seen anywhere else.

[deleted account]

All the DNA folks, lets recap some old forgotten Biology lessons. Yes "sex chromosomes" do usually show a perfect gender, unless chromosomal defects occur (someone mentioned Kleinfelter's or there's trisomy/Down's). "DNA" is a whole huge ballgame... make that universe. DNA molecules have SO many markers and subgroups that we are only BARELY touching on the areas that might answer why some people are gay, or totally need to switch gender to feel right or why some of us are more succeptable to specific cancers, why some can't care about others or get enoug adrenaline... and on and on... DNA is tiny, but contains SO much info and one little chip of a difference can make the resulting person so different.

If someone suggested that DNA or chromosome testing dictates transgener operation qualification, ahhhh, nope. It is a painful, arduous process that takes years and tons of support to get through. Some Drs. in other countries might take fewer years, but the process is still not easy or to be taken lightly.

Could anyone imagine someone going through all that for a kick or to piss their Mom off?

[deleted account]

Rosa, I only got to have one boy and my 2 older stepkiddos. If you want to hand him over now... or fine I'll wait 'till he's too weird for ya.



Edit: I do not remember reading that she would turn her son away. We can't blame people for the beliefs they were raised with. If you have such strong faith, and things you feel are offenses to your faith "disgust" you and you voice that to us, you do own those feelings and have right to voice it. Just don't voice that to an impressinable child, no. My Christian background just so happens to be different, and probably to her a perversion, but it's my faith. I own it. I thank my Mom for giving me that huge range of information and choices in my childhood.

[deleted account]

Rosa it would still be like a knife in the heart, a child of yours no matter what ages looks to you for support and unconditional love.It would feel still like rejection on your part.All your son cares about is your thoughts and your love.I agree with JuLeahs post

Rosa if you were to put yourself in your childs shoes at that moment , feel the hurt as you hear those words said to you..it wouldnt feel good would it?.:-( thats your blood, the child you carried, gave birth to and raised.... also as has been said, trans and gay are not the same..they dont go hand in hand either.

JuLeah - posted on 03/07/2011

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Ahh, Rosa, God didn't say that at all. There is nothing, I promise you, nothing in the Bible about being transgendered. This topic has nothing to do with being gay, BTW. It is about a child who is Trans.
God made us, and God only make perfect. So, all God's children are perfect, even you.

Charlie - posted on 03/06/2011

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Rosa people like you make me sad for humanity , to be DISGUSTED in your son for such a reason is attrocious , you say you love him for who he is and yet you would never allow him to be himself if he was in fact gay or transgendered ? You would let a book turn you against your OWN child for no harm done to him or anyone else because someone else said so ........ WOW it's kind of scary , do you also believe disobediant children should be stoned to death ? ......wait , don't answer that .

~♥Little Miss - posted on 03/05/2011

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It is quite apparent that if your son WAS gay Rosa, then you would NOT love him just the way he is...or love him to death. Someone being gay, is as much of a choice as someone genetically being short. I can't do shit about the fact that I am under 5 fucking feet....neither can someone be NOT gay just becouse you think he/she should not be.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 03/05/2011

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MAN WROTE THE FUCKING BIBLE! DAMMIT! Man's interpetation is the bible...Sorry Rosa...that sucks.

Amanda - posted on 03/05/2011

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Thank Rose for reminding me that much of the general public still has their heads up their ...! I was getting a warm fuzzy feeling that the world is becoming more open minded along with more empathy. Its always nice when someone slaps you back into reality. Gay has nothing to do with transgender, might wanna stay on topic. :0)

April - posted on 03/05/2011

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These parents are heroes. Hailey is so lucky to have them for parents. As she grows older and possibly meets other transgender people, I think she she going to find that most won't have approving parents. I don't have to be in this situation to know I would absolutely do what these parents did for Hailey.

Lucy - posted on 03/05/2011

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Well, Rosa, just you be making sure he doesn't go around eating shell fish or wearing mixed fibres- What would God think? ;P

But on a more serious note- This thread actually isn't about a child coming out as gay. It's a whole other issue, so maybe we should stick to it.

Mrs. - posted on 03/04/2011

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Awesome Rose! I'm sure that'll work out for you in the end. I can't see anyway that this kind of reasoning might end up biting you in the ass. I mean people have been using the bible as a way to justify hatred for years and yet God in all his wisdom continues to make gay people. I guess God is a funny guy that way.

Rosa - posted on 03/04/2011

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I love my son to death. He is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. But I would be disgusted if he told me he was gay at any age. I would tell him I love you just they way you are, but this isn't who you are. I didn't say being gay was wrong... God did. And I believe everything the Bible says

[deleted account]

I think its so wonderful when parents accept it as hard as it may be for there child.To many over the years have been rejected for this or being gay etc and its an awful cycle, one i dont ever wish to be apart of.I am delighted with how those parents have acted towards there child.I two could never reject the child i carried, gave birth to and raised.I love her unconditionally always and forever.
What ever life throws our way we will deal with it correctly and deal with it with compassion and love.

Karla - posted on 03/03/2011

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I watched the show and thought the parents were incredible. They of course struggled with the decision, but ultimately decided to love and support their child for who she is. You won't convince me that a little boy would dress and play like a little girl for YEARS on a whim...she was born that way.

Amanda - posted on 03/03/2011

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A DNA test would not tell you anything other then your daugther was born a boy. That is rediculious to think it would say anything other wise, unless your son suffers from Klinefelter’s syndrome or is Intersexual. Otherwise a DNA test will ALWAYS come back the sex a child was born. Shakes head.

[deleted account]

Umm, yeah...I disagree with you on that one Deanna. Sexual orientation has zero to do with male or female DNA. If my son's DNA says he's a male, but at a very young age he FEELS like a female, I seriously doubt he's "pulling anything" over on me. He feels the way he feels and that can't be proven with DNA or any other kind of testing. IMO.

Tara - posted on 03/03/2011

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Wow Deanna, you would really "start insisting that they act their gender " ?
What if your child "insisted" they were in fact a girl and even if your "test" said otherwise they still chose to wear girly clothes and say they are a girl and act like a girl etc.? Would they be punished? Would they be somehow "forced" into their anatomical gender? If so, how?

~♥Little Miss - posted on 03/03/2011

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Ok...so....if you are confused about your sexuality and want to be the opposite sex, you are not allowed to unless your DNA backs that fact up? Hmmm.....

[deleted account]

If my young child wanted to be the opposite gender I would take them and have them genetically tested to see if they really were the wrong gender. IF they were then fine, go for it. If not I would start insisting that they act their gender and if they still want to turn their dick inside out or turn their woman parts inside out to get the gender they want when they are adults then fine. AS ADULTS!

Yes you can get an actual DNA gender test. There are some kids born as one gender that are actually the other gender. Those should be encouraged to be the correct gender if they want to be. However, if your childs DNA is NOT a different gender than what they are physically then don't let your child pull that crap. They are likely just confused as to what they really should be acting like. Introduce them to interesting things in their own gender and stop allowing things of the other gender. At least for a while.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 03/03/2011

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My son is only 4, he is just learning the concept between boys and girls. His favorite color is pink, and he likes sparkles..I think he is to young to figure out such complicated feelings. He is who he is, and I will love him to pieces wether he is straight, gay, transgender, transexual, transvestite, athletic, brainy, uneducated...anything you can think of. I love my kids regardless. I will be here to support them both.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 03/03/2011

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So many people go through life confused about trying to figure out who they are. This little Hailey is so lucky to have such nurturing parents to see the difference between make believe girly stuff vs. I am a girl in a boys body. I love that they have created a safe environment for this growing child to discover who she is. A big bravo to them, and all parents like this.

Rosie - posted on 03/03/2011

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i'd have a hard time with it, but if everything turned out like this little girl, i would accept and encourage my child to be who they are.

Krista - posted on 03/03/2011

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I agree with everything JuLeah just said. Hailey knowing that she's a girl was not a decision -- it was just one of those things that she came to know, much as we all grew up knowing we were girls.

I think that the OP has it bass-ackwards. Those parents ARE stepping up their parenting game, in that they're accepting their child for who she is and not trying to mold her into what they think she should be.

Bonnie - posted on 03/03/2011

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I'm honestly not sure how I would handle it. That is a lot to take in. I definitely wouldn't encourage it.

[deleted account]

I honestly don't think I would have a problem with it if my son preferred "girly" things to "boyish" things or if he was transgender. I believe that things like sexual orientation are decided before birth. To try and force my son to be "boyish" if he felt like a girl, that to me would be like forcing him to be a brunette instead of a blonde, have brown eyes instead of blue. It's part of who a person is. Now, would I worry about how other people would treat him? Yes. Would I fear a little for him, for his future and would I worry that he may have a more difficult road than straight people? Yes. But that's because there are still so many closed minded people out there who go out of their way to make people's lives hell. My husband and I have actually talked about this recently because awhile back the show "What Would You Do?" did a segment about a boy in a toy store who wanted a barbie instead of a "boy" toy. I was happily surprised to see that the majority of people were more than ok with a boy having a barbie and my husband says he'd be totally fine with it too. But my husband's friends? Not so much. I really think that if my son were transgender, sadly, it would be some of the people in his life who are closest to him that would give him the hardest time and try to change him.

Tara - posted on 03/03/2011

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I could only hope I would have as much grace and patience and understanding to act as these parents have.
It would be something that I would accept, however I would still try to play things as neutral rather than one sex over the other. If they wanted to be called by a different name, I would do that, if they wanted to wear dresses and girly stuff, I would do that too.
I'm just not sure that I would say "Okay you can be a girl". Even though I know they had not made a choice, but rather were born with the body of one gender and the brain of another, it would still be against my better judgment to go 100% with my childs wishes. I would as I said keep things neutral for as long as possible and maintain open dialogue about their feelings and let them know it doesn't matter to me which gender they are inside, I will always love them.
It's really hard to say what anyone would do in this situation, even for those of you who said you would be fine, I'm sure there would be some initial shock and denial for everyone, it's just a matter of how long it lasts and how it's dealt with.
It crosses my mind more often because I have so many kids, the chances of one of them being trans, gay, lesbian etc. are greater, just based on numbers alone.

Amanda - posted on 03/03/2011

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These parents are also my hero! They havent dropped the ball, they are providing the best life for their child as they know how. What great parents, if only more parents looked at their children with such unconditional love, and allowed their children to blossom anyway the child wants too! This isnt bad parenting its GREAT parenting!!

The suicide rates of young transgenders are very high, they stuffer from depression all their lives because no one understands them or will listen to them. They spend their lives being told what they are thinking is wrong, They are not a boy or a girl, but in their mind they know this isnt true.

If children know at the age of 3-5 if they are straight or gay why wouldnt a child know they are the wrong sex also? Parents need to stop blowing kids off because they are kids and start listening to them more carefully, while giving them more credit, our kids do actually know what they are talking about, esp when it comes to themselfs as topic!

Danielle - posted on 03/03/2011

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My son is 7 and if that happened with us I would run straight to a therapist. Not b/c I would want to change him but I would need help understanding him and how to be supportive. I would let him know that I love him as my lil man but would try my hardest to be supportive.

Katherine - posted on 03/03/2011

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It must be so confusing at the mere age of 7 to know you are a girl and have people tell you otherwise.

Most parents would discourage this and be appalled. These parents embraced it.

[deleted account]

We have concerns at the moment about our 6 year old daughter being gender confused.I would like to think shes just a tom boy but she has said off the wall stuff at times about for example.I'm wearing a girls mask but im really a boy under it..shocking to hear.I want her to be happy and if its a case were its more than being a tom boy, its perfectly fine with me.I cant change who she is or wants to be.Also yes she has wanted to be called boys names to.From as young as 4.Its hard and i dont understand it.I hope its just a stage shes going to get over or just be a tom boy.We do not call her boys names, we say your name is .... thats what we will call you.



I tell her all the time , its okay for a girl to like football and to not like dresses.I had her teacher say to me, "she plays with the boys a lot, it would be good to get her to play with the girls".Of course i encouraged her to do so but i cant make her.

I have been seeing this from a young age with our daughter, i say from 3yrs the wanting to be a boy and have short hair and even boy parts.Its always been there and shes always saying it..it is not encouraged but again we dont get upset over it with her either, as thats not right to do .If she cant understand her feelings how can i get upset and tell her other wise.:-(

Sharon - posted on 03/02/2011

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I would discourage it. I wouldn't encourage it.

If my children grow up in a normal sphere and tell me as mid teens or adults that they were transgender or gay I'd accept it. As a 7 yr old, hell no. I would not be happy about it. Their generation is much more accepting than mine is/was and MUCH MUCH more than my parents generation. But it is still not fully accepted and the life of a gay couple isn't very easy. I also find it unnatural and hard to fathom. yeah yeah, I know - but despite that - I do my dangedest to chuck those irrationalities and behave with acceptance.

Angela - posted on 03/02/2011

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if it makes Hailey Happy, then I dont see any problem with it.
I would support my child 210%!

Charlie - posted on 03/02/2011

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I had a 5 year old in my class like this , his parents were very accepting he would say horrible things like he wanted his penis to be cut off , he would have a fit if the other kids told him he was a boy and even at 11 years old his femininity hasn't changed .

I would hope I would be as accepting as his parents were they have done a great job just being there for him .

[deleted account]

If they know by 3.... then I am very glad that I don't have to deal w/ this cuz I honestly don't think I would handle it well. I would love my child under any and all circumstances, but the thought of this doesn't sit well w/ me and I'm not sure how I'd ever get past that.

Stifler's - posted on 03/02/2011

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Oh dear God I wouldn't know what to think if my 5 year old wanted to be a girl instead of a boy. It would be hard to tell whether they'd just grow out of it vs. live a life of confusion and social craziness.

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