Transgender child

Discussion in 'Gay and Lesbian at Disney' started by Grmnshplvr, Jan 20, 2016.

  1. Grmnshplvr

    Grmnshplvr DIS Veteran

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    I hope I don't regret putting this out there but am desperate for some advice, thoughts, anything. I figured this would be a good place to start.

    Last night my 11 year old daughter told me she's been feeling very confused about her gender. She said things like she might want to change her name and didn't want to be referred to as she or her anymore. I asked her when this all came about, she said she's felt this way since she was about 9.

    She said when she gets her period she feels like its wrong and that she shouldn't be wearing bras. A few weeks ago she asked if she could cut her hair into like a pixie cut, which I was totally fine with. The next day at school someone asked her if she was trans. I'm kind of wondering if this is where it all stems from but I honestly dont know. She did get her period very young, shortly after her 10th birthday and while she knew what to expect and we had always been very open about it I do think getting it that young was a bit traumatizing but I dont know that it has anything to do with this.

    I asked her if maybe she just felt confused about her sexuality? and if so that was okay too. She said she didn't know but she can't picture her future as a man or a woman, or if she will be married to a man or a woman.

    When I say this all came out of no where it truly did. aside from the request for short hair, this girl has been extremely feminine since she was old enough to fall into any kind of gender role. I never doubted or questioned it, or pushed it either way...she's just always gravitated towards typical female toys, clothes, music, hobbies etc.

    I really didn't know what to say. I didn't want to invalidate her feelings at all but I did tell her 11 is a very confusing time for everyone and that she certainly doesn't need to label herself at this point. She asked if she could talk to someone and I did reach out to the executive at our local LGBT organization today. I just dont know where to go with this. I dont want to do more harm than good. and I do want her to talk to someone but who???

    My 14 year old, who has a degree from google apparently also talked to her about this and was saying things like transgender and panosexual. I dont even know what that is. I told her I was glad she is supportive of her sister but she needs to be very careful with labeling her or trying to "diagnose" her.

    I reassured her that no matter what we love her, and support her in everything she does and will do our best to understand. She is so nuturing, so compassionate, the best friend someone could ask for. She is all around an awesome kid, and it broke my heart to see her crying yesterday absolutely confused about all this. She kept getting choked up and burying her face. I asked what was wrong? she said she just didn't want people at school to know, or her grandparents. they are extremely conservative and we both know how that will go over I'm not even allowing my mind to go there right now. But she said she told two of her friends that she would prefer them to not call her a she or her. I explained that would be very difficult for people to just stop doing, and I asked her to hold off on talking to her friends for now until we get in to see someone. Was that the right thing to do? I dont want her to feel ashamed but at the same time I dont want her to put this out there and then next week change her mind and then still have to deal with any backlash or judgement she might get from kids at school.

    I'm so confused. I dont want to make this about me, I just want to know how to help her. Things were so much easier when a hug and ice cream fixed their problems. I probably said all the wrong things yesterday but was completely caught off guard and am now afraid maybe I made her feel worse.


    I did tell her I was very proud that she came to me and felt comfortable enough to talk to me about this, I was a little bit relieved to know she does feel like she can come to me. We've always been very open in our house about how we supported equal rights for members of our military and of course same sex marriage, so I dont think she has or had any fear about coming to us about this as she has always known and was raised understanding how we felt about it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2016
  2. OKW Lover

    OKW Lover Retired and living 2 miles from The Castle. DIS Lifetime Sponsor

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    This is probably the best thing you can do for her and for you. They can put you in touch with experts so you don't have to rely on google.

    Another really smart move on your part. Please reinforce this (but don't badger) regularly. It will help her deal with it if she understands you are on her side.

    Also, I've used "her" and "she" here only as a convenience. It may well be that other pronouns should replace them at some point in the child's future. Remember, its only a name.
     
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  4. PolynesianPixie

    PolynesianPixie Creating my own fairy tale realit

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    Let me start out by saying, "You're doing a great job, mama!" The fact that your child came to you, is asking questions, and you are handling it all from a place of love is a perfect start. Reaching out to all the resources offered at your local LGBT office is wonderful! There may be support groups for trans and gender non-conforming kids AND their families. This kind of support is invaluable! I know, because about two years ago my 14 year old daughter told me she was gender fluid. A couple months trying that out, we realized that we actually had a son. Like you, our child didn't really show signs of being a boy. We played with dolls and transformers, dressed up like princesses and knights, loved Doctor Who, Star Wars and My Little Pony. Still, not much has changed. The transition has had it's ups and downs, but we have been through it together. My first piece of advice is to find a counselor who can help your child sort through this without bias. You don't want someone who automatically accepts that your child is trans and that's that. On the other hand, you don't want someone who tries to "cure" your kiddo either. A person who can help you both truly understand what's happening and who knows that whichever way this turns out - it's okay.

    Your child has one benefit so many do not have: a supportive mother.

    Feel free to private message me. I'm happy to share our trans adventure- the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful!
    ❤️
     
  5. Libby

    Libby Mouseketeer

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    Looks like you are handling this brilliantly. My 16 yr old has decided they are agender (don't feel like either a girl or a boy and likes they/them/their pronouns. Some days they dress feminine, some days masculine. It such a difficult thing for them to go through and your child seems to be younger than most - or maybe they are just more in-tune with how they are feeling. A local support group would be the way to go. My child has made friends with some like minded people through ours, who are actually setting up a parent group that we'll be attending.
     
  6. mellers

    mellers DIS Veteran

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    I'm not sure where you live, but if it is in or near a big city, you might want to see if your local area has an LGBTQ youth club. Our nearest city (Seattle) has one, and it will take kids as young as 11 with parental permission. You are absolutely doing all the right things--looking for professionals to help, and being supportive. You may also need to "shop around" for a pediatrician who is used to working with LGBTQ youth, and the issues that may entail.

    Hugs to you, and hugs to your daughter. Being 11 is tough, no matter what. So is being the mom of an 11-year-old.
     
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  7. cijay

    cijay mentally confused and prone to wandering

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    You're doing just fine, and so is she. Most important is that she (which is also important...which pronouns?)knows that there are people at home who are 100% in her corner no matter what.
     
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  8. Epcot82Guy

    Epcot82Guy Mouseketeer

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    I second everything said. You are doing exactly the right thing. Having someone to talk to openly is the key here. And, the ability to safely explore a bit, too. That's what so many of us who grow up LGBT lack, which is where the "damage" (so to speak) comes from. The fact she has you and knows that is a huge first step.

    With that, two things I might suggest... 1. The degree from Google can actually be pretty handy here. One of the most challenging things is often finding someone with a similar story. You feel isolated, alone and different at a time when all you want to feel is normal and accepted. So, finding stories - even just written down - is a great way to start the gears turning. 2. Having said that, stories are just that - stories. So, help her find a bit of fun and positivity in all this. It's confusing because she has (rightfully so) preconceived notions of what she should do. Helping her abandon the fear in all this - and know she has the full right and encouragement to try things - is huge. Obviously, you want to work together to do that in a comfortable way. But, if she can start exploring things at home, with you - it will be a huge help. And, she can mix and match all of it together however she wants. If she thinks it's wrong to have female lower parts, but correct to have the upper ones - and hates bras - but loves frilly dresses - and likes boys and girls (or neither) - it's all ok. And, she can change her mind if the feelings change. The thing to know is this is an extremely confusing time - and the mind tries to avoid things it perceives as "harmful" or "excluding". That's not meant to invalidate her gender feelings! If she raised them, they are real enough! But, there are many, many paths that can lead down. Knowing she has to let the path unfold vs. picking one and forcing herself down it is the key. If she can get a little more comfortable with that exploration, I think she'll be just fine. And, the bond you will have will be something you will both treasure as a result.

    Again - job well done! Wishing you both the absolute best! :grouphug:
     
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  9. Grmnshplvr

    Grmnshplvr DIS Veteran

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    I didn't think I would get responses so I stopped checking, Thank you all so much for the words of encouragement. She took a big step the past weekend and got rid of the barbies, dolls etc. Part of it is probably just her growing up but she does seem to be happier rejecting the typical feminine things she once loved. I did a lot of reading about gender fluid, and while I am not an expert or professional I certainly think she could or most likely fall into this category. She purchased a floral dress for her talent show last week with no input from me whatsoever. I asked if she wanted to go look in the boys department and she picked out the dress instead. I didn't say anything but kept thinking (you couldn't pay my nephew to wear a dress on stage) so at this point I think we're both confused.

    It hasn't helped that the local resources here are almost non existent. We are close to Buffalo. I expected more resources but there just aren't any. The executive at LGBT did call me and we had a very long conversation about all this. It was very reassuring. She sent us a book which my daughter is reading now. She sent me the names of some professionals. Unfortunately none of them are in our health insurance network and that is narrowing our options even more. There are several child psychologists in the area but none that specifically specialize in gender identity, and the ones that do aren't listed for our insurance. They did say there is a youth group, but 11 is a bit younger than they usually take. She said its not that they wouldn't take her but that I should keep that in mind if I decide to sign her up. I'm not sure how I feel about that yet.

    I'm not sure why but the support she was receiving from our older daughter has changed. over the last week my older daughter has made comments like "you're doing this for attention" "no one changes their gender in a week" etc. I understand she is probably confused as we are, I'm really trying to get her to be more supportive.

    Last week we got rid of the Frozen comforter and purchased a nice grey and teal bedroom set, more preteen friendly and gender neutral. She really enjoyed that.

    One step at a time.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2016
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  10. Grmnshplvr

    Grmnshplvr DIS Veteran

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    Yes! While she expressed to me that wearing bras and having her period were making her uncomfortable she just purchased a floral dress last week for her talent show. On the other hand she got rid of the barbies and frozen blankets and opted for a gender neutral color to redecorate her room. I know part of all this is just her growing up and leaving childhood behind (excuse me while I choke back the tears as she is my last baby) but I think part of it is her exploring this idea that maybe having a more masculine side is kind of fun.
     
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  11. mellers

    mellers DIS Veteran

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    I live on the West Coast, not the East Coast, so I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the Buffalo area; however, if you are having a lot of difficulty finding providers, you might want to see if Planned Parenthood is in your network (it often is.) They generally have providers who have a background helping LGBTQI kids.
     
  12. PrincessJo

    PrincessJo Married my prince... now I just need a castle...

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    I sympathize with what you are going through. It's a long, tough road, but it sounds like your daughter is very lucky. My son is gay and has also had a tough road. His Dad and I always knew, but were waiting until he was comfortable coming to us to tell us.

    When my son was almost 16 he came to me and asked to talk to someone. He was feeling depressed and wanted to die. He was accepting who he is and just wasn't all to happy about it at the time. Why would he be? Most of the world thinks he's evil and sick and aren't afraid to say it. The next day I scrambled to find someone he could go see. I found a lovely woman who truly was a blessing for my son. He adored her and while he'd complain while we were dragging him to his appointements every week (sometimes more), he was thankful we did. After a couple of months she recommended we take him to a psychiatrist to discuss medications. The new doctor put my son on an antidepressant and between the two of them, two years later he was on a totally different road. He is completely off the medication and no longer sees his therapist or psychiatrist.

    He's 19 now and in his second semester in college to be a child therapist. He has bright pink hair and painted nails, but eh, his friends adore him (so do his Dad and I) and you know... he's a great young man with a good heart. He has a friend whose house burned down shortly after Christmas and we donated a bunch of stuff and he's been there every weekend helping them clean up. That's what's important :)

    As long as you are there to support your child and you have a network of people to help you, she'll turn out just fine and will become who she is meant to become.

    Good luck :hug:
     
  13. Grmnshplvr

    Grmnshplvr DIS Veteran

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    Just wanted to send a quick update, our LGBT youth organization has a group meeting the first thursday of every month and we will be attending Aprils. I still have not found a mental health professional that I think can help us but am still looking. Thank you for the recommendation to check with planned parenthood, I wouldn't have thought of that.

    In the past month she (I still use she because she hasn't asked me not to and hasn't really made a "decision" yet) we went shopping for new bathing suits and she picked boys swim trunks and a tshirt, If I'm being honest my heart sank a bit but I smiled and said of course whatever you're comfortable in and bought them. We went to the local Y and she went swimming with my nephew, the lifeguard told "the boys" to stop jumping in the pool. Later I asked her if that bothered her and she said not at all.

    I think she is having a harder in school than she is letting on. She did tell me some boys in homeroom were asking her if she was boy or a girl, (knowing she is a girl) and asking if she is a lesbian. She pretended like it was no big deal but the counselor called me today and said someone over heard her saying she wants to hurt herself..she talked to my daughter about it and her response was that "it was a joke". I'm absolutely terrified.
     
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  14. OKW Lover

    OKW Lover Retired and living 2 miles from The Castle. DIS Lifetime Sponsor

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    First, let me say that I appreciate you posting to give us feedback on how things are going.
    I hope you've related the first part of this to her counselor. The school should have policies against classmates talking like that, its a form of bullying. This is a serious matter and it may be behind the comment made in the last part of this. Be sure the school is standing behind her.
     
  15. cruisehopeful

    cruisehopeful Wishing I was taking a nap on a ship.

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    You may need to go out of your medical plan and pay cash for some services, even to just get started. Just google transgender therapist and your area. You can also schedule an endocrinology appointment with a doctor within your plan as well as your normal family doctor. The more resources, the better. Sometimes, even having very supportive parents doesn't outweigh the stigma from society.
     
  16. Grmnshplvr

    Grmnshplvr DIS Veteran

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    we have an appointment April 11th with a therapist that works under a doctor that specializes in this. The waiting list for the doctor is over a year wait, but the counselor was able to get us in in April...I did speak to the counselor at school and she said that is pretty typical. Which is pretty sad considering the circumstances. I think taking her to the wrong counselor may do more harm than good though so we will have to wait it out. The counselor does not accept our insurance so we are paying a hefty copay but have no other options at this point. My daughter did seem pretty happy that there was someone she could talk to about this so she is looking forward to it.
     
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  17. OKW Lover

    OKW Lover Retired and living 2 miles from The Castle. DIS Lifetime Sponsor

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    I hope that's not all the counselor said/did. The school should be making their anti-bullying policies clear to all students and should be taking action when the policy is violated.

    Glad to hear that you are finding help outside the system.
     
  18. piccolopat

    piccolopat DIS Veteran

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    It's hard to tell if this was bullying or just that her classmates were confused about the sudden changes.
     
  19. laurabelle

    laurabelle DIS Veteran

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    I just wanted to tell you what a great job you're doing mom! Google does help educate. Do you have a PFLAG chapter near you? Some large cities may also have LGBT health care centers where they can see a general practitioner as well as therapists. I hope you find the resources to help your child.
     
  20. berryinDC

    berryinDC in the garden

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    Hey there! It sounds like you're doing a great job. I used to run a support group for LGBTQI youth and I agree that it would be great to find an option that takes kids your child's age. It can be difficult for younger children when most of the youth are much older. Have you looked into LGBT youth resources in Rochester and Toronto? There might be a group worth driving to once a month or so. Also, there's a PFLAG chapter in Buffalo that might be a good resource and support for you. I know you're focused on your child, but you need/deserve support as well, whether that's in person, book etc! PFLAG is particularly a good option to talk through any conflicting feeling you might be having. Or feelings of loss. And you might be able to get support on holding the school accountable to create a safe and supportive school environment for all students.

    And last, watching movies might be a good way to to explore topics of gender together. You could include your other child, as well if you think that might help. (although, if she's feeling left out, maybe doing something else together with just the two of you might help). There's a lot of LGBTQ documentaries and scripted films. And Toronto's LGBT film festival is in late May...Rochester's is in the fall. SUNY Buffalo State regularly showcases films too. Two recent short films on trans kids that I particularly love are Kuma Hina – A Place in the Middle (http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/films/kumu-hina/) and Tomgirl (http://www.tomgirlmovie.com/)
     
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  21. Hannahinwonderland

    Hannahinwonderland DIS Veteran

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    Rochester has a great LGBT community! And I love those film suggestions.

    I have read some really good YA fiction books about transgender youth. One is "Beautiful Music for Ugly Children" (it's about a transgender male high schooler. It's supposed to be grades 9-12, but a mature middle schooler could handle it). Another great one is "Parrotfish" (again, about a high schooler, so borderline inappropriate for your child). The third one on this same topic is "I am J". I LOVED this book, but it has some really mature themes like cutting, so possibly you would want to hold off.

    I haven't read "Gracefully Grayson" yet, but I've heard it recommended. It's actually middle-grade fiction, so perhaps more suitable. But it's about a transgender woman, so possibly less relevant.

    There's also a bunch of good nonfiction/memoir books. I've read "Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out", "Rethinking Normal". and "Some Assembly Required". All are a bit mature for your child, and they are fairly explicit with going through parts of gender confirmation/ reassignment surgery, so that might not be what you want to expose your child too.

    In general, I find that books help! Those memoirs are cool because your child might really identify with the author's journey, but they might not. There's SO MANY identities out there. You might want to read the books yourself; there's also a new wealth of books about raising a transgender child; (Gender Born, Gender Made is one I really liked).

    It's so awesome that you are supportive, I wish all parents were like you! :)
     
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