By Ben French
Children now, more than ever, are fighting with confusion about their gender identity as psychologists and concerned parents do their best to help these children be the gender they feel they are.
The current diagnosis for such children is that of Gender Identity Disorder; a boy will know himself to be a girl and vice versa despite their physical bodies. This is a real problem that can adversely affect a child’s life if not treated properly.
Children exhibiting signs of this disorder will feel uncomfortable or wrong in their own bodies and may harm themselves or others when forced to confront their physical gender. Individuals suffering in such a way should be allowed to change their way of life to better accommodate their mental health.
There is no harm in allowing children at an early age to interact in any manner in a social environment as long as their progress is monitored by family and doctors. Some children may even be more harm to themselves without recognizing the problem.
Several children find themselves distraught and terrified by the way their body is and what they are supposed to be and act like in comparison with everyone else. The trauma one person can experience at such a young age from something most take for granted is unprecedented and the situation must be handled delicately.
The best example comes from Thomas Lobel, adopted son of Debra Lobel and Pauline Moreno of Berkeley, California. Thomas is male, but identifies as female.
At first, the problem seemed benign. As time passed, however, Thomas struggled more and more with his gender. At age seven he threatened to mutilate himself in order to better represent his gender.
Once diagnosed, Thomas was given the option to dress and act as he wanted and to do whatever he felt comfortable doing in order to better accommodate his condition.
Thomas is now 11 years old and goes by the name Tammy. She is undergoing hormone suppression to stop puberty until she is 16 years old, at which time it will be legally appropriate for her to start her gender transition.
So, is blocking the natural progress of puberty safe? The treatments that these children are under only stop puberty for as long as they undergo treatment. If the treatments stop then puberty will progress as normal without any adverse effect to health or reproductive capabilities.
Speculation on the psychological and physical ramifications of this diagnosis, and the process of gender transition, is moot because someone such as Tammy will have the rest of her child and teen life to make a decision on whether or not she is in fact female.
Child and teen endangerment in this stage is also not an issue. While any radical changes to the natural biological system of a person is dangerous, most of the initial treatments are low risk until adult years when the body begins to produce the corrected hormones. At that point, surgery would be required. As an adult, the person should be aware of the risks and know for a fact whether or not they are the right gender.
The real fear is a change in social norms. What was once taboo and confusing is now a diagnosable issue that, with careful treatment and compassion, can be corrected.
Resistance to this in unhealthy homes is more likely to harm children who already feel the unease of not being “normal.”
On average, people with gender identity problems will have at least one suicide attempt before their 20th birthday. This is a real problem that should be taken seriously, especially when concerning children.
Illustration by Tiffany Tran / The Poly Post
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