Learning More About Trans*

I just finished reading a book called The Transgender Child by Stephanie Brill and Rachel Pepper.  It was recommended to me by a friend who works with a lot of trans* youth.  The book outlines common misconceptions about trans* (including gender variant) children, gives examples of how to be a supportive parent to a trans* child, medical options, as well as legal issues and avenues.  It provides tons of first person quotes from parents of trans* youth (as young as 3 and as old as 20) that make the reading rich with circumstances the reader can relate to.  I found it to be eye opening.

I learned a lot from the chapter on hormone blockers.  I didn't realize that hormone blockers could be a way to delay the onset of puberty and that it is reversible.  Gender variant and trans* pre-adolescents who want to put off puberty while they figure out what the best way to proceed with their gender identity development can do so safely with these blockers.  And after taking the blockers, if the child and parents decide to proceed with the hormone for the child's consistently asserted gender, they will develop almost completely as that gender.  

I wish I had known this when my kid was 9 (2008, when this book was published).  Z was presenting male and wanted to be male - didn't want his breasts to show (started binding them at 11 or 12)... now, at 16, Z considers herself gender neutral or fluid or a gender fuck and seems to be fine with the body she has.  But the point that reading this book drove home to me was that I didn't even research what his options were when he was presenting male.  I am embarrassed and I feel I owe her an apology for not being a much better advocate for her while she was young.  Yes, she was in therapy.  Yes, I accepted his male-ness. Yes, I bought him whatever clothes she wanted.  Yes, I bought him binders.  But those were easy things for me to do.  I didn't do what was difficult and dive headlong into the trans* and gender variant world to find out more.  To learn as much as I could.  

I sincerely doubt that given the choice, my kid would have chosen to delay puberty and then to take Testosterone.  At least, that's my take on it, looking at her now.  But I should have know that this was an option.  And I didn't.  I hope parents of gender variant and trans* youth take their situations a bit more seriously than I took ours and dive into the resources available, such as this book.

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