Transgender Children???

Melissa - posted on 02/11/2010 ( 43 moms have responded )

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The TYRA show recently had an episode with two children, age 7 and 8. One was a girl and one a boy. They believed they were born the wrong sex. For about a year, they have both been living as the opposite sex. The boy (who likes to be called a girl) says that his penis is a 'birth defect' and has shield that hides it when wearing a bathing suit or other form fitting clothing.

Now, I am not so sure a child at that age really knows what it means to be a boy or a girl. The girl likes to play with trucks, so she thinks she should be a boy. But not fitting into a stereotype doesn't mean you should be a different sex, does it? But now these two young children are walking around their schools pretending to be something they are not.

Trailer for the episode, there is more on you tube.

Do you think a child this age can really know? Why or why not? Or at what age would you give in to a child wanting to act/be the opposite sex?

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Krista - posted on 02/11/2010

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Someone put it this way once: Your sex is what you have between your legs. Your gender identity is what you feel you're supposed to have between your legs. And your orientation is WHO you want between your legs.

Gender identity is not just about the genitals. There are people who are actually born without genitals, but they still identify as one gender or another, and that is because gender identity is in the brain. Most often, the brain and the genitals are on the same page, so to speak. But sometimes they're not.

I think it's very possible for a child to know at a very young age that their external appearance does not reflect their true gender. By 36 months, most children have acquired a firm sense of gender identity.

And Melissa, you've kind of got it backwards. Transgendered boys do not think that they are transgendered because they want to play with dolls. They want to play with dolls BECAUSE they are transgendered. Transgendered girls don't think, "Well, I like playing with trucks, so I must really be a boy." They KNOW that inside, they are boys. Playing with trucks is just an external indicator.

So if you came up to me and said, "I'm a man. I know I'm a man. I FEEL like I'm a man, but I'm trapped in this woman's body", then no, I wouldn't call you crazy or stick you in a halfway house. I'd sympathize with you, help you find a support group, and help you find information on transgenderism. And if my son came up to me and told me that he was really a girl, and that he didn't want to have a penis, I'd do the same thing -- I'd find support groups and information, and be there for my kid. And if, after years of talking about it and getting that support, they wanted gender reassignment surgery or hormone treatment, I'd do a lot of research on it and would consider it.

Krista - posted on 02/15/2010

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oh and i also don't understand "A transgendered boy can't call herself a boy because she's not a boy --- she's a GIRL. In her brain, in her heart, in her identity, in every way except what's between her legs -- she's a girl. That's why she calls herself a girl -- because she IS one." that makes no sense at all


Why does that make no sense? Is your sense of being a woman solely because you have breasts and a vagina? If you'd been born blind and paralyzed, and unable to see or touch your own body, would you have absolutely no idea what gender you are? It's pretty much universally agreed-upon in the scientific community that gender identity is psychological, not physical, and that while it can be influenced by external sex, it is in no way determined by it.

Read this quote from a transgendered kid:

“The last two and a half years have been horrendous for me, with my body becoming so disgustingly adult male that I cannot bear it. Living in a male body hurts beyond belief. I sometimes feel as if I will go crazy with the sadness and desperateness of it. My body will never, ever be as I would like it to be and now, unfortunately, it is really a case of damage limitation. All I want is to be able to get on with my life as a female; at the moment, I am living in a limbo land – I have a female name and I dress in female clothes, but I have facial and body hair, which makes me feel horrible, I am the wrong shape for the clothes that I wear and I have genitalia which are completely alien and upsetting and which protrude through my clothes.”


What makes more sense to you? Calling that person a boy, or a girl?

As well, there are cases where it is VERY unwise to wait until puberty. In cases of severe gender dysphoria, where it looks like the condition is guaranteed to persist into adulthood, most psychologists and experts recommend delaying puberty by means of medication. This way, the physical changes of puberty are put on hold, allowing the person more time to decide whether or not to have hormone treatment and surgery -- because once the physical changes of puberty have taken place, they are pretty much impossible to reverse.

I also found another excellent resource (this one is more current -- I was only quoting studies from the 1970's because that's what I happened to have on hand.)

http://www.gires.org.uk/assets/DOH-Asset...

Krista - posted on 02/14/2010

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Oy...this isn't about being politically correct. This is about NOT forcing a child to deny who he or she really is. Last time I checked, 50% of make-believe Caucasian princesses haven't made at least one suicide attempt by the age of 20. Kids don't kill themselves over rainboots or pizza or pierced ears. But they do and have killed themselves because they tried desperately to convince their families that they were transgendered and they were basically told, "Don't be ridiculous!"

And I don't know how it would affect them at school. That is why I am saying that if a child shows consistent signs of transgenderism, that it is utterly crucial to contact people who are experts in these things, to help support both parent and child as they navigate through these very difficult waters.

Amanda - posted on 02/13/2010

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Think back to ages of 4-7 did you all know you were female? Did you feel female? If you could determine what sex you were, why cant a transgender child also know what sex they are suppose to be?? If children at very young ages know they are gay, why cant they know they are transgender. Someone posted about a botched circumcision which makes me wonder, if a lot of transgender children/adults may of been born intersex(hermaphrodites) and their parents made the wrong choice on which sex to make their child.

His latest review of 94 intersex children found over half of the genetic males “transitioned” to become boys despite being raised as girls and undergoing female surgical sex assignment.

How? As early as age 4½, the children would suddenly say, “I’m a boy,” or pick a boy’s name, Reiner said.

Hence his advice to parents to think hard before agreeing to surgery for an intersex baby: Dealing with the social trauma of switching gender later is enough without the issue of surgery that can’t be reversed.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6994580/

Sara - posted on 02/11/2010

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Well, it's probably pertinent to mention that sex is a biological thing while gender is s socially constructed thing. So yes, I think you can be of a biological sex that does not match your gender, and you would know it from pretty early on.

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Sharon - posted on 02/19/2010

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I think a child knows - they may not have the words to define how they feel or what they know but it is there.

That said. I don't think EVERY child who claims to be transgendered, most especially if they use large terms - IS.

IF my child were to come to me today and claim to be the opposite sex inside, I think part of me would scream NO! In reality I would tell them.... "you may be right, this may also be a phase. You were born a male and our society says you do not wear dresses or glitter lipgloss. So we are going to keep dressing you as society says is proper and you can talk to me about how you feel about this, ok? When you get older - lets say 19, and if you feel this way then - we'll explore what needs to be done so that you are happy & healthy."

7 yr olds need guidance and someone to lean on, they should not dictate what they do etc.

I think we would also get counseling because I think I would be heartbroken that my beautiful child was going to drastically change who and what he is, what I love and open the doors to a really hard life in this day and age.

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Michelle, I was not saying that if your child comes to you with these issues to take them to the doc to have a sex change. No. I was saying seek help. It should not just be ignored.

Krista - posted on 02/15/2010

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The thing is that body dysmorphic disorder, paranoid schizophrenia, and manic depression can, for the most part, all be treated successfully with various forms of therapy and pharmaceuticals. Serious gender dysphoria CANNOT be treated with any form of medication.

I agree that changing your sex is a serious decision, and not one to be taken lightly. But some of the physical changes of puberty ARE impossible to reverse. The broadening of the shoulders in the anatomic male, for example, cannot be reversed through surgery or hormones, and can make a huge difference later on, when the post-op trans female tries to assume her new life as a woman.

Michelle - posted on 02/15/2010

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what about with body dysmorphic disorder. The person believes in their brain, in their heart, and in their identity, in every way that they are fat and/or ugly ecept that they are not. A paranoid schizophrenic believes in everyway that they are being plotted against, that the voices that they hear are really there. A manic depressive will, in their mania, believe that their harmful and self destructive actions are glamorous and creative. If I believe in my heart, mind, and identity that i am a rich person will that make my bank account any different? that is what i mean when i say it makes no sense.

The physical changes of puberty are not impossible to reverse. They require serious hormone replacement therapies and cosmetic surgeries. And personally i believe that if you want to change your sex it is a serious decision, like consenting to sex. That should be made as an adult and not by your parents.

Michelle - posted on 02/15/2010

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i have a ba in psychology. I also did extensive research my senior year on gender identity. While this issue is real there is absolutely no conclusive research on the topic. If you are going to cite sources don't cite sources from the 70's. There is a reason that there are such things as statutory rape and tried as a minor. It is because children that age do not have a grasp on complex ideas such as being transgendered. But hey I also disagree with trying any minor as an adult because if a 14 year old can't give concent for sex then a 14 year old should not be tried as an adult in a murder. Also don't dismiss how your child feels. That IS dangerous b/c there is a high rate of suicide in this group. You can always explain to your child, yes... i know you feel like you are in the wrong body, but dressing like a boy DOES NOT make you a boy. When the child starts going through puberty see if it changes. In many cases it does. This is by no means a black and white topic. oh and i also don't understand "A transgendered boy can't call herself a boy because she's not a boy --- she's a GIRL. In her brain, in her heart, in her identity, in every way except what's between her legs -- she's a girl. That's why she calls herself a girl -- because she IS one." that makes no sense at all

Michelle - posted on 02/15/2010

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i saw a similar topic on dr. phil. The boy wanted to be a girl. something came up and i remember she said something about always wanting a daughter and feeling closer to her son now that he was a she. Nobody even talked about the point that he might be doing that for the mother's attention and bond? If either of my children felt that way i would really really dig into why they felt like that. I mean is it a deep feeling or a whim and where did it stem from?

[deleted account]

It believe a child that age can be sure that they were meant to be born the opposite sex. When is was young I was a complete tomboy - I played with boys toys, wore boyish clothes, but I knew I was a girl I may have thought I was more like a boy then but that didn't mean I knew I should have been born a boy not a girl. I'm now more feminime and love being a woman and most of all a mammy! Feeling you should have been born the other sex at a young age is an issue but I don't think they should be able to have surgery until the age of 18 years of age when they're mentally ready to make the big decision.

[deleted account]

I have a minor in physchology (not an expert by any means, but I do know a little bit about it) and I can back Krista up on this one. It is a real "thing" (for lack of a better word). This is not something to be taken lightly or ignored. You can't just expect the child to grow out of it like any other phase.

I myself have trouble wrapping my brain around this issue. From a Christian perspective, I strongly believe that God doesn't make mistakes when He creates someone. There is a place in this world for transgendered people, and He loves them very much. Since this post, I've been thinking about it and trying to see how it fits into His big picture. Of course, I probably won't ever see His big picture.

But I agree that if this is a persistant issue with a child, it cannot and should not be ignored. Seek help. And not on the Tyra show.

Isobel - posted on 02/14/2010

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I agree that television is not the place for these children but I think they likely have good intentions like trying to help people understand this. As for school...if the other kids had never known this child as the opposite sex, I don't see the big deal.

You never answered my question...if your parents told you you were a boy, and that your genitals proved it...would you believe them?

Kimberly - posted on 02/14/2010

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I just think that people are trying to hard to be politically correct. I thought forever I was a Caucasion princess (I am clearly African American)...didn't make me one. I think we're forgetting at 7, 8, 9 years old kids are adament about a lot of things...I "need" pizza for breakfast, I "need" to have my ears pierced, I "need" to wear rainboots to school everyday of the week and yet as parents we know we must step in to do what's best for our kids. I'm not saying dismiss it totally but I don't suggest exploting your child on TV and attempting to get national attention because your child is different. I think that alone makes it more of mockery than anything I or anyone else on this site could say. P.S. If you think I'm closed minded and hard to explain your side imagine your "transgender" child" (not specifically yours I mean a child that is considered transgender) trying to make it in school...how exactly do you explain it to other kids??? Would that really help or hurt the child at that age?

Isobel - posted on 02/14/2010

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I have a question for Kimberly and Melissa. If your parents had chosen to raise you as a boy...and told you your genitals were proof that you were a boy...would you have believed them? I don't know how old your kids are but mine are 7 and 8, and I can assure you that they KNEW they were a boy/girl at a VERY young age and were ADAMANT about it! My son still liked his toes painted like mom and sister...and he allowed his sister to dress him up like a doll...but when his sister tried to tell him (when he was 2) that he was a girl...he SCREAMED no...he simply KNEW it wasn't true.

I can't even imagine trying to explain to everybody I knew that I was a girl and having nobody listen to me. I saw that show about the twins as well, and it was heartbreaking.

Krista - posted on 02/13/2010

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Kimberly, I'm not suggesting that if a child shows signs of transgenderism that the parents immediately schedule surgery, here.

However, I AM saying that dismissing it as "imagination", especially if this is something that's been going on for awhile, could have tragic results.

Regardless of whether it came off of Tyra or not, transgenderism is a very real phenomena, and there are too many transgendered kids out there who keep being told that they're just imagining things.

Kimberly - posted on 02/13/2010

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Well...until the age of about 7 I swore I was a long lost princess. I understood the various positions of royalty and always felt like a princess...my parents did NOT buy me a crown. I'm just saying if we close all our psychology books for a second and remember this came off Tyra...who runs a whole show about mentally unstable people trying to reach their goals as top models only to end up Celebrity Rehab. I think its just a way to get people to watch the show...lets find the most ridiculous thing and put it on TV.

Krista - posted on 02/13/2010

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Same difference...a child equates things with girls or boys but we don't run and buy boys dresses or girls footballs because they tell adults "I'm the wrong sex". At that age they don't even care!


Not correct, actually. Children generally begin to acquire an awareness of their anatomic gender (i.e. their sex) by about the age of 18 months. By 36 months, most of them have acquired a firm sense of gender identity (Marcus & Corsini, 1978; McConaghy, 1979; Money, 1977). So, it is at this age that a transgendered child will start to realize that their anatomic gender does not match up with their gender identity. And at that age they DO care. Children need for the adults in their life to believe them when they are telling the truth. So when a child starts to show reliable, constant signs of identifying with the opposite gender (not just the occasional bit of child role-play, but a perpetual identification with opposite-gender interests and roles), then it's something that really should not be dismissed with "Oh, they're kids, they don't know their own mind."

Rose - posted on 02/13/2010

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I don't think it is a problem as a parent we are suppose to be on their sides no matter their decision or age on the life decisions. If my daughter decided she wanted to be a boy i would not find it weird. I would probably be scared for her and sad about her decision but in the end she makes the decisions that shapes her life. If she is happy about herself than i am happy for her. I know that for a fact a 7 and 8 year old knows what it means it be a boy and a girl. My nephew is 8 and he knows that girls and boys have different parts and knows parts of the birds and bees to say that a child that age doesn't know is arbitrary especially in this day and age when kids are experimenting more at younger ages. That right their should tell you they know.

Kimberly - posted on 02/13/2010

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I don't think that a child that age fully understands what they're feeling. Not on something that detrimental in life. Kids often mimic certain things they see and I've seen little boys carry purses becuase they're older sister is and its just a toy to them while I've seen little girls play with remote control cars simply because they're fun. A child of that age is old enough to use some logic but too young to use it correctly all the time. They understand "most" boys do this or "most" girls like that. They react to reactions...if dad frowns when his son puts on high heels they know that's not the norm if mom insists her daughter wear pink they grow to believe that's just what girls do. This is what I mean by their logic is there enough to make sense but not there enough to be considered rational...my neice will bump her toe or hit her elbow...no scratches, no blood just the temporary pain...she will immediately ask for a band-aid because she equates that with pain. It makes perfect sense to her but we don't get her a band-aid everytime she bumps herself. Same difference...a child equates things with girls or boys but we don't run and buy boys dresses or girls footballs because they tell adults "I'm the wrong sex". At that age they don't even care!

Rosie - posted on 02/13/2010

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i've heard many a stories about transgender people identifying themselves that way since they were waaaaay little, like 3-4. i honestly don't know what i would do if my child were that way. i know i would want to support them. i've heard that story that krista talked about and it saddened me to no end. there would be no way that i would ever want to let my child not be who they are, i just know it would be very hard to understand. i think i would feel like i did something wrong in creating them or something. most likely i would support whatever decisions they would make as long as they had counseling first to help them through it. i would let my boy dress like a girl and do things as a girl, but anything that involved hormone injections or surgery i would make them wait till they were 18.-all this of course i'm not sure about, but that's what i think i would do, but i do know that i would not disown them or anything stupid like that.

Krista - posted on 02/12/2010

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No, I know. A lot of people have a really hard time wrapping their brains around it, so don't feel too bad. You're making efforts to understand, and that's a lot more than most people do.



Either way, it's very heartbreaking for the child, as even the most well-meaning friends and relatives just can't understand what they're going through, and they usually wind up feeling very isolated. 50% of transgendered individuals will have had at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday. That is why it is CRUCIAL that if any of us have a child who expresses that they wish to be (or are) the opposite gender, that we seek immediate advice from support groups and from experts on gender dysphoria -- trying to handle it ourselves and trying to talk our child out of it could have tragic consequences.



I found a good website with more information, if you're interested in learning more about this sadly misunderstood segment of our society.



http://www.lauras-playground.com/index.h...

Melissa - posted on 02/12/2010

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I just can't wrap my brain around that. I don't see what would make a physical boy think he is mentally a girl. That just doesn't make any sense to me.

Krista - posted on 02/12/2010

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Melissa, there's a difference between a boy who enjoys girl things and a transgendered child. A lot of boys enjoy doing girl things, but they still self-identify as boys. When I was a little girl, I loved playing with cars and getting dirty and climbing trees and all sorts of "boy" things, but I knew I was a girl and I was perfectly comfortable with that.

With transgenderism, this isn't a case of a boy enjoying girl things. This isn't even a case of a boy sometimes wishing he was a girl. This is a case of a physical boy BEING a mental girl. Under his clothes, yes, he's a boy. But in the BRAIN, she's a girl. The body is just a body -- it's our mind that makes us "us", right? And in the transgendered child's mind, they ARE the opposite sex.

So if you discouraged your transgendered boy from referring to herself as a girl, I imagine her immediate thought would be "But I AM a girl!!!" I cannot help but think that it would be very isolating for the child when even her own mother is asking her to deny who she really is.

Melissa - posted on 02/11/2010

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If I had a boy that enjoyed girl things, I would discourage him from referring to himself as a girl, yes. He can do what he wants, but he is still a boy. Under his clothes, no matter what he does, he is still a boy.

Krista - posted on 02/11/2010

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So if you had a boy who identified as a girl, you would discourage her from thinking of and referring to herself as a girl, but would be okay with her acting as a girl? Is that what I'm getting? I just wanted to clarify...

Melissa - posted on 02/11/2010

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There were comments on here about letting you child have surgery to change their sex...
I wasn't even thinking sex change. I was only thinking about them referring to them selves as the opposite gender.

Krista - posted on 02/11/2010

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I wasn't even talking about surgery... but I would try to promote my child remaining their sex (mentally), but acting however they want.


I'm not sure what you mean by that -- could you clarify?

For clarification, everybody, can we use the word "sex" to refer to the physical characteristics, and "gender" to refer to the individual's gender identification? It makes things a lot less confusing.

Krista - posted on 02/11/2010

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Melissa, these people don't give a sweet darn about societal roles. A transgendered boy can't call herself a boy because she's not a boy --- she's a GIRL. In her brain, in her heart, in her identity, in every way except what's between her legs -- she's a girl. That's why she calls herself a girl -- because she IS one. She just happens to have been born with a penis. The surgery isn't creating a lie -- it's bringing out the truth.

You're not understanding. It would be like if you woke up tomorrow morning with your brain trapped inside of a man's body. Would that make you a man? No, you'd still be Melissa, a woman, trapped inside of this man's body. It would just feel all WRONG to you, wouldn't it? Imagine going through life like that.

Melissa - posted on 02/11/2010

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I wasn't even talking about surgery... but I would try to promote my child remaining their sex (mentally), but acting however they want. I would not promote cosmetic surgery, but I would support it if they were financially on their own, and had been thinking about and contemplating it for years.

Melissa - posted on 02/11/2010

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I guess my concern is more that I feel they think they need to change their identity (boy to girl/girl to boy) to be accepted in the societal role as the gender they feel. But I don't see why as a physical boy you would have to become a girl to everyone else so that you could embrace your gender. Why don't we promote them being their gender yet acting like the other sex, rather than promoting the creation of new sex, which is a lie? Why can't a boy still call himself a boy and act like a girl? Why call himself a girl? I see it as fear, fear that if they don't pretend to be a different sex then their gender will not be respected.

Krista - posted on 02/11/2010

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I honestly don't know at what age I would let them have surgery, or about dress, hair, and pronouns. It's such a delicate matter, and has so much potential to really wreck a kid's psyche. I don't think I'd be doing much of anything without speaking to several transgender support groups and several psychologists to determine the best course of action and the best way to talk to my child about it. But needless to say, my kid's well-being would be at the forefront of my mind.

And Jenny, that story is really sad. I can empathize with the parents wanting their child to have one sex or another, but it's sad that the parents didn't wait to see how the child identified himself. They likely didn't know, though. It used to be a very common school of thought that gender identity was taught, not innate.

There's a really tragic story about that from the 1960's, actually. This woman gave birth to twins, and had them circumcised. One of the circumcisions was botched, the the kid lost his penis. His well-meaning parents, in consultation with an experimental doctor, decided to raise him as a girl and had his testicles removed. The poor kid always felt different -- always KNEW that he was a boy, and couldn't understand why he kept being told he was a girl. In adolescence he found out the truth, and embraced his male identity, eventually having 4 rounds of reconstructive surgery to try to rebuild his penis. But he was so messed up emotionally that he wound up committing suicide at the age of 38.

Carolee - posted on 02/11/2010

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If my children decide they want to change sexes after they turn 18, I will support them in that decision... but not as young as 7 or 8. I will do my best to let them have their hair the way they like it and clothes that they like, but I wouldn't go as far as to let them call themselves the other sex just yet.

Katherine - posted on 02/11/2010

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I know they know the difference! But do they actually know what a sex change entails? Do they comprehend that they would have a completely different lifestyle? Of course I would support my child, but my question is, do they fully understand at that age?

Krista that was a very good way of putting it.

Amy - posted on 02/11/2010

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The children are too young to really understand that they should have been a boy or girl. A teacher of my had a friend who was born the wrong sex, and I understand that it's very hard and emotional to them, however they didn't really realize it till they were teenagers.

Jenny - posted on 02/11/2010

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I used to think it was odd too. Then I found out one of my family members was born with male and female parts. The parents chose the girl parts but the person always identified as male.

Then I did some research on the subject and found exactly what Krista so eloquently wrote before me.

Melissa - posted on 02/11/2010

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I think that kids get confused by thinking as a boy or girl you have to fit into that stereotype. And that is so not true! But if you have a penis, you are a boy, whether or not you want to play with dolls or trucks. I don't think people should be ashamed of being different or fitting into the wrong stereotype because their gender is different. Acting like a girl, knowing your a boy is one thing. But saying you are a girl when you have a penis is like me saying I am chimpanzee. If I start running around naked and swinging off of trees am I then a chimpanzee? Would you accept me as a chimp, or call me crazy and stick me in a half way house?

Sara - posted on 02/11/2010

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What do you mean that a child that age really doesn't know what it means to be a boy or a girl? I think a child that age can know, just like most gay people will tell you that they were attracted to the same sex since they can remember. I say you need to let your child express themselves and they'll work it out and be who they are.

Lady - posted on 02/11/2010

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Many adults wo have had sex changes said they knew something was wrong with them from a very early age - they weren't happy with who they were. It wasn't until they were older an knew of the possability that they could be the wrong sex that suddenly they knew what the problem had been their whole lives. Maybe because now transgender people are more common these children know now why they feel different from everyone else.
I'm not sure what I would do if one of my children told me they thought they were the wrong sex, I'm sure it hasn't been an easy decission for these parents to make - one things for sure thoufh, I wouldn't be parading them on a talk show!

Katherine - posted on 02/11/2010

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Someone definitely put that in their heads. Can I believe a 7 and an 8 yo are actually capable of saying they weren't meant to be that sex and understand what they are saying? No. That's the most bizarre thing I've ever heard. To think a child at that age used the words "birth defect" is a red flag right there.

C. - posted on 02/11/2010

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Nope! Children that young often want to be some kind of animal, like a lion or a monkey.. What the heck makes the parents think that a child REALLY wants to be transgendered? They don't even have a good grasp on reality at that age! As for the last question, I wouldn't really "give in" to my child wanting to act like or be the opposite sex. If they want to act the part, that's kind of one thing and I suppose I would just love my child no matter what, even though I don't exactly agree with it. But if they wanted to actually become the opposite sex? They would definitely have to do that when they are out of the house, that's just something I will not bend over backwards for. I just don't believe it's right. That's playing God and saying that God made a mistake when he created you.

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