No child should be sterilised unless that is clearly in her/his best interests, and medically indicated.
Trans folk would pass much better if we did not go through the wrong puberty. Trans boys would not grow breasts. Their hips would not widen. Trans girls would not develop male pattern body hair. Their voices would not break. Surgical alteration of genitalia is easier with a child. And- some children who identify as trans grow up to identify as cis lesbian gay or bi. It is not clear that children likely to grow up trans can be identified.
Puberty can be blocked; I read that tends to be a “one way street”. Children whose puberty is blocked so they can decide for themselves at a more mature age tend to transition. This may be because puberty blockers are only prescribed in extreme cases. Even blocking puberty has an effect on the child.
Why tell children that they are boys or girls, anyway? Why tell them that boys and girls are different? We are different in our reproductive system, but our characters and abilities overlap so much that there may be no other difference between all males and all females.
For me the answer is to dump cultural gender. If Stephen wants to be called Clare today, that is a choice the child should be allowed to make. The same goes for clothes, pronouns, gendered behaviour. Let them play and experiment, that is how they learn. Let them be inconsistent: Stephen insists he is a boy, while wearing a dress. Next day s/he is thinking on something else and does not want to be bothered with gender presentation.
!!!!!!!!!!THIS DOES NO HARM AT ALL!!!!!!!!!!
(Breathe. Yes, I know. Shouting. I am intensely distressed about this.
Onywye. It has to be such a big deal. You identify as trans, see doctors, socially transition. That means you can go to school with a name you like, but still only one name, only one presentation. You can even be gender-queer, but still have one name, one painfully-negotiated rule about which toilet you use.
Hormones and surgery are a big deal. Names and clothes should not be.
There are people who do not fit gender norms. “Boys don’t cry” is untrue and damaging. Gender norms are still enforced. I want it open for children to express by gender as they wish.
No-one feels in a vacuum. We are influenced by others. We see what it is acceptable to feel, what feelings we can express or act on. We learn from parents and people around us. It is comfortable to have similar opinions with a group. The child J may have been unable to express feelings separate from his mother’s. So we shut down feelings because these are inappropriate for our gender.
Children should be given a completely free choice to take, or not, football, ballet or both. It is hard not to influence. Do they want influenced, they want to be shown what will be acceptable? Only if they have been hurt before, only if some feeling has been taboo and they have suffered for it. We need support, not constraint, as we learn to navigate the world, society, and ourselves. Children are cultural sponges: They absorb the mores that surround them — how to dress, what to eat, what to say. This is a good thing, all in all, since a major function of childhood is figuring out how to be a proficient adult in a particular society. This means picking up on social norms. These norms, though, need not include constraining gender norms, which cut across human nature without benefit to anyone.
This idea cares for gender non-conforming children across the whole range, from football for girls- which only gives the most conservative the slightest frisson- through gender non-conforming, to those who will have surgery and hormones for the rest of their lives. Only surgery and hormones require medical intervention.
How kids learn prejudice, New York Times.
could not agree more Clare…
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Thank you for that. I like the third judge’s order, that the parents should provide girl and boy clothing options for the child to choose: but it does not say why the interim orders are to transfer custody from mother (supporting female gender expression) to the father.
Um, isn’t genital surgery harder for children, at least in the sense of requiring further corrective surgery as the child grows? Also, a lot of children who are diagnosed as trans grow up to cis adults, usually non-heterosexual; however, it’s not quite as clear that they identified as trans. One of the factors here is that until very recently, the diagnostic criteria concentrated on gender-incongruent behaviour and it was not necessary that the child actually voiced any kind of wish about being the ‘opposite’ gender. In essence, it was more a queer diagnosis than a trans one. That children who get puberty blockers mostly end up transitioning suggests that the diagnosis gets much more reliable once the medical system asks how the child views themself. Oh, and by the by, for me the main thing isn’t passing but rather getting a body that feels right from the inside.
All that said, the main points in the blog post are spot on. There’s a lot that could be solved by relaxing the cultural condition just a little. We are getting there, too, although rather slowly and with regular setbacks; the world in which my child is growing up is very different from the one in which I did.
I got the idea of genital surgery being easier on children from surgeons working on DSD. For autonomy, people with DSD want children to pass through adolescence and make their own decisions, rather than having the decision made for them; but I read a surgeon arguing that the young flesh heals more quickly, and the wounds to heal are smaller. I do not say trans-identifying children should have genital surgery, because of the possibility of desistance, only that from the point of view of the trans adult, having had surgery in childhood would make things now a lot easier. Liking your body matters, but passing matters too: attractive people earn more.
I have heard it argued that all queer issues are gender issues: straight homophobes dislike LGB because they see us as not behaving like normal men and women.