Trans Youth

Hi all, I’m creating this thread under an alternate username not because I am ashamed of the topic, but because this stuff TRIGGERS the everloving hell out of the crazies. I’m not worried about someone tracking me down, I can handle mines, but definitely not interested in having that happen to my child. For anybody who knows me/my posting over the years it’ll be pretty easy to figure out who I am. If you’re dying to know, send me a message and if I know you I’ll tell you.

Also, and now this prelude is too long, you might wonder “why the hell are you posting this at all?” The biggest reason is that aside from a once-a-month support group of parents, it’s very hard to talk about this with people, even close friends. It’s a tough one for people. So this is worthwhile for me. And I think it’ll be an interesting thread without much risk of harm.

Anyway, I have a child in their early teens who is changing/has changed their gender. They were assigned female at birth and currently identify as non-binary/trans-masculine (pronouns they/them). My wife and I assume that at some point they will identify as male, but we’ll see I guess.

The big thing that’s about to happen is that they’re going to start testosterone in a few weeks. I am about as progressive as they come but definitely needed to wrap my head around starting hormones, but after significant research, conversations with my child, etc etc etc, I’m very comfortable with this step. I am definitely aware some of you are probably reading this and thinking “you are out of your fucking mind” and maybe I am. This is not easy to understand until you’re in it, and even then for me it took time.

At some point in the future, assuming the course doesn’t change drastically, my child will want top surgery (have their breasts removed). That’s still a tough idea for me to swallow, but one step at a time.

Stuff currently on my mind:

  • My child’s voice is going to change, and at some point that will be permanent. That’s kind of getting me a bit.
  • We happened to give my child a very gender-neutral name, so they are keeping their name. Many parents have a very hard time with name change.
  • As long as they’re non-binary, they get misgendered 100% of the time by people who don’t know them. They much prefer being called he to she, so the changes the T will bring should help in that regard. So part of me thinks it would be easier for them if they identify as male.
  • I go to a group of parents of trans youth once a month and it is an absolute lifesaver. So grateful for it.

Maybe this was TMI. Not sure exactly what I’m expecting to get out of it, but thanks for reading and giving me the opportunity to express myself.

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How old is your child?

They are 14.

I will share some information from a tangentially related family situation in the future. Need to collect my thoughts on it a bit as it involves a massive family drama that impacted my family for decades.

I certainly empathize with you struggling with this topic especially as it relates to your own child who you never want to see suffer or struggle.

From a fairly ignorant place it does seem fourteen is pretty young to be going too hard on this. I say this because teenage years are extremely confusing and confounding to all teenagers regardless of how they might identify. I think getting through the brunt of that before seeking major physiological changes would be beneficial. I am just not sure how you would make a teenager understand that. At fourteen, being told to wait a few years might as well being told to wait twenty years.

I promise I will share the story in my family after I get a chance to sort things out. I don’t know if it will help you at all but I will say I would consider it a success story for a younger person who struggled with their identity but, at least from where I sit, eventually transitioned successfully and is happy now.

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Thank you for sharing and more so for being a supportive parent to your child. That is by far the single most important thing they need, and it sounds like you are handling everything well.

The idea of transgenderism is incredibly difficult to wrap your brain around if it doesn’t affect you personally or someone very close to you. For those of you reading who still struggle with it, I’ll share a story about a relative of mine that helped it make sense to me. My cousins now ~11 year old daughter was born male. She started showing signs of identifying differently as early as two years old. By the time she was 6 she knew for sure she was and wanted to identify as female. This is as direct a quote as I can remember: “it feels like when I was in mommy’s belly the girl cells and the boy cells were at war. The girl cells won on the inside of me but the boy cells won on the outside.”

Hearing that come from a very young, albeit incredibly smart child changed my perspective forever. It’s that easy. Who are we to question that? I certainly know I’m in no position to say what the feels like or what they should do with their body.

Anyway, I’m glad you have a real life support group and felt comfortable turning to this community as an additional outlet. Keep loving and supporting your child, all will work out.

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Your support and acceptance is the most helpful thing they could ask for, and I don’t know the research, but going through teen years as their identified gender seems like a very positive step.

The child of a friend I’ve known since long before their child was born started identifying as non-binary in their teens, probably around the same age as your child (they’re now 20-21). Obviously there is still a lot of prejudice and transphobia, but also a lot more acceptance, especially if you live in a more liberal area. My friend’s kid doesn’t identify as male or female and never had HRT and still presents very much as the female sex they were assigned at birth, and the pronoun battle is exhausting.

My mother, who is like a godmother to them and spends a lot of time with them, still misgenders them half the time, and although she doesn’t object to them being non-binary, even after 6-8 years just can’t (or refuses to) wrap her head around the fact that this person she remembers as a “sweet little girl” is not a “her” anymore, and can get defensive when corrected (by me and my sister, not when corrected by them).

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I have two kids a few years older and at least in the groups they travel in it’s amazing how normal this is. That you and your wife can handle this is great. I hope everyone around your kid can at least refrain from making life harder for them. I’m sure the hard part for you is not accepting them, but worrying about their happiness.

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I have had two somewhat-distant family members transition. I try very hard to use their preferred pronouns, support them, let them know they are loved. Trans rights are human rights. I am fully 100% on board.

Something I struggle with, and it feels selfish to even say this, is that it feels a bit like the pre-transition person has died and been replaced by a similar-but-not-the-same person. I wonder if OP mourns their daughter? I imagine they must. Feelings, man. How the fuck do they work?

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I wouldn’t have any problems accepting anyone identifying/dressing as whatever gender they want, but hormone therapy and surgery would be tough for me to accept/get behind. Not saying I’m right but I just know that’s what my reaction would be if a child I was close to wanted to do that. And obviously what age any of that happens at is a very very tricky situation. Thanks for writing about this, I’m sure it’s interesting/helpful for a lot of different people.

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I believe that’s a fairly common emotion that parents go through in this situation. I know my cousin mourned the loss of his oldest son, but also celebrated gaining a daughter. It’s probably one of those situations that everyone handles differently emotionally and theres no way to truly know how you’d feel unless you were in that position.

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This was definitely my original stance - the idea that we don’t let 14 year olds drive, drink, vote etc etc etc for some good reasons. So it felt very wrong to “let” them change their gender. Talking to them at length about it helped a lot. What also helped is learning that by starting T we’re just taking another step. I really don’t know what the future will bring, but the changes are gradual and take a long time before they become irreversible. My child has been pretty “butch” for many many years. I think it’s very unlikely they’ll wake up one day when they’re 25 or 30 and wish they could now be a mom. But we’ll see.

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That’s very common, but I actually don’t. It’s pretty easy for me to see/accept that they are the same person they’ve always been, and they will always be. I definitely did swallow hard the first time I thought of it in terms of “I no longer have a daughter”, but that didn’t last. I think the fact they’re keeping their name helps me here.

Last week I was at a store shopping for clothes with them and the shopkeeper said “oh, is that your son?” and I was just like “yep”. It was pretty trippy and really awesome.

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I was just looking at research related to this which I’m sure OP is already familiar with, and allowing someone to transition at 14 seems beneficial vs making them wait.

Early studies have shown that transgender youth who are allowed to socially transition have mental health nearly indistinguishable from their cisgender peers (a stark contrast to past studies of transgender youth who weren’t allowed to socially transition who had high levels of anxiety and depression). If a child stops identifying as transgender at this stage, they simply go back to the pronouns, dress, etc. of their gender assigned at birth.

Again, if a child has hit puberty and identifies as transgender, they are much less likely to later stop identifying as transgender.

And re: hormones

Gender-affirming hormones like estrogen and testosterone are bigger decisions. They will cause body changes that are not easily reversed, like body fat redistribution and changes in body hair. Parents should also remember, however, that these changes are mostly cosmetic. The potential benefits from gender-affirming hormones (improved mental health) will usually outweigh the low risk of an adolescent later changing their mind and regretting cosmetic changes.

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<3 <3 <3

I volunteered with an LGBT organization for a couple of years. Your attitude is a breath of fresh air. Thank you for your love and support toward your child.

I really enjoyed these books by Janet Mock for her experience of being both trans and a person of color. She rose to a high level of success at People magazine and was not out as trans. She has conventional beauty and could have spent her life with the privilege of no one knowing she’d been assigned male at birth, but eventually she felt she needed to add her voice and her story to the conversation. And what a story. It’s inspiring and encouraging to see her and an increasing number of trans people finding success in highly public roles.

There might be some things that don’t translate given Janet is MtF, not FtM, but I found it very helpful to expand my understanding of the experience of being trans and/or having an unconventional gender identity.

If you’re a fan of comedians, Eddie Izzard also came out as trans, not just a transvestite, and wrote a memoir about the experience.

Here if you ever need to chat about this stuff, PF. Rooting for you and your whole family.

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You sound like a very compassionate parent and they are lucky to have you.

Just curious how they brought it up to you? Was it a surprise to you? Something you knew was the case but waited for them to bring up? When did they know? Like a lightbulb or a confusing decision that was worked through?

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My kid came out as a lesbian when they were 12. At the time, we would tell friends “Oh you know xxxxxx came out” and some would say “As what?” So yeah the idea that they might be trans was not a big mind blower. Also, we snoop their social media and knew they were out to their friends as non-binary for a while before they told us, which is pretty typical. We joke that if we were assholes and non-supportive they would have come out to us sooner so they could throw it in our faces.

So when they came out as trans we were just glad it was in the open.

They can’t identify a “white light” moment. I think it was after they came out as gay and at some point it was like “hmmmm, this isn’t really it exactly”.

But here’s an interesting element that hasn’t come up! I also have an 11 year old cis boy, and all the smart money is on him staying as such. This is all a lot for him to process and I’m sometimes not sure he knows what the hell is even happening. He’s not great with the pronouns and generally tries to stay out of all of this lol. I talk to him regularly about it but there’s only so much he can “get” at this point.

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Fwiw, I know a couple tangentially (friends of a friend sort of thing but have spent time with them socially) whose son is transitioning to a girl. What’s remarkable about this family is how young they realized their son was in conflict over his gender identity (preschool), and the courage they had to investigate and ultimately support the process despite the age. She’s now in first or second grade, has changed her first name, and is living as a girl. And going by the last time I saw her, if you had no idea, you would have no idea.

As I’ve heard the stories, they all spent time in counseling together to make sure (as best as can be sure) that this was the right decision. And while it has taken a toll on some significant relationships with extended family, the immediate group of them seem to be dealing relatively well.

From a distance, she was extremely lucky to be born to very bright, educated and progressive parents who were perceptive enough to realize how their child was truly feeling and brave enough not to fight it. While I can only imagine how difficult this is for you, your continued love and support will serve all of you well moving forward.

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Great post, thank you. Yeah all of this stuff was super helpful when I was doing my research. The kids of other parents in the support group have had such a wide range of experiences. Some are truly gender fluid - identifying as male in some elements of their lives, and as female in others. I definitely think in our case non-binary is not our final stop…

Also, we’re constantly reminded that gender identity and sexual preference are not really very linked - it’s not uncommon for sexual preference to change after the person has transitioned.

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Was there any discussion about hormone-blockers instead of gender-affirming hormones?

I was struck by that part of Janet Mock’s story. She knew at a very young age. As a teen, she took hormone blockers that delayed what would have been her natural development, but otherwise did nothing to disrupt it. If she chose to go on gender-affirming hormones later, she still could, and if she later decided not to pursue hormone treatment, she could simply stop taking the hormone blockers and allow her original physical development to proceed.

No judgement about your decisions. Just interested if you’re able to share more about your experience.

This is a while back, but my dad had moved to a new town and was eager to make friends. My dad was not malicious, but he was as passively bigoted, racist, and homophobic as they come. His best friend ended up being this guy who–unbeknownst to my dad–was a trans male. He seemed to sense my dad would struggle with it but eventually did tell him, and my dad never would have guessed. There was not even a, “Hmm, I felt like something was off.”

I guess the point of that story is to encourage your child if they affirm a male identity and want people to instinctively recognize them as male. I’m sort of hopeful we get to a place eventually where gender-fluid identities are so common and public that it reshapes our gender concepts and expectations such that this kind of anxiety becomes a thing of the past.

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My child was already well into puberty. So, we had already missed much of the benefit hormone blockers would impart. Also we were told that the effect would be similar to sending my already pretty touchy 14 year old into a menopause-like state. And to that we all said NOPE.

Starting blockers earlier would have been the right move. If my kid does end up getting top surgery it will be more involved than if we had done the blockers.

Another topic that is discussed a lot in my group: insurance. Some insurance is easier than others with this stuff. Hormone blockers are very expensive (like $50K I think?) and many/most insurance companies put up a huge fight.

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