This post continues our discussion on transgender youth.
What we know: transgender persons have higher incidence of depression, anxiety, suicide attempts, assault. The media has had story after story of transgender persons being treated horribly. Identifying as a different gender than what was assigned at birth is hard. The parents and family have to cope with changed expectations and it can be difficult to ‘get it right’ (i.e. say the preferred name, use the preferred pronoun, and accept that the baby you were raising as one gender is different than what was anticipated).
A new research study was released in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics in March 2016 that is very encouraging for parents of transgender youth. In the study, researcher recruited children who identified as opposite of their natal sex in daily life. They did not include gender fluid youth. Children used pronouns that matched their identified gender, presented as the identified gender in all contexts (such as school, home, in public), and were ages 3-12 years. These transgender children who were supported in their identity by their families did not have differences in depression when compared to controls (controls included siblings and a group of gender and age-matched peers). Read full post »
What’s in a name? When my husband and I chose the names of our kids, we thought a lot about them. A name sticks with you, it’s what you write on forms and papers everyday, it’s the first thing your teacher reads about you when they see their roster for the year. People will make assumptions and have ideas about your just by reading your name (think about how many actors and actresses changed their given names to have more appeal!). So for someone whose gender identity doesn’t match up to their given name, a name can also validate (or not) who they feel they are.
Gender identity is our personal perception of our gender. It is innate and very much based on the individual. Gender may or may not align with chromosomes and anatomy. For Some, gender is the opposite of chromosomes. For others, gender is more fluid. Some languages do not have gender categories, but the English language does. When describing my own children, I often use the pronouns she and her. My oldest child identified herself as a girl around age 2 1/2. I recall it very vividly (plus it was only a year ago. I was at the store buying diapers. There was a pink box and a blue box. Previously she would ask for the blue box (which had a pirate and car), but this particular day she was adamant that she wanted the pink box. I was a bit shocked and asked her why. Her response: ‘because I’m a girl.” Read full post »
Thinking back to my first pregnancy, I recall going to an ultrasound appointment to look at the infant’s anatomy. The ultra sonographer asked my husband and me if we wanted to know if we were having a girl or a boy. We weren’t even parents yet, but everyone in our social circle was asking if we knew ‘what we were having,’ so we responded ‘yes!’ In our culture, we automatically think about gender in binary terms: girl or boy. This way of thinking is convenient for people whose gender aligns with the sex assigned at birth: it allows grandparents to purchase pink or blue baby clothes and helps parents pick a name. In our culture, identifying your gender comes up with everything from filling out job applications to choosing which public restroom to use.
But what about those babies who do not have a binary sex assignment (such as those who are intersex)? What about youth who identify as a gender other than what their chromosomes say? What about those people who don’t feel male or female, but identify as somewhere in between? Just because something is ‘convenient’ for the majority doesn’t make it correct. Read full post »
I have the privilege of working with teens around many aspects of their lives including sexuality and reproductive health. While my professional focus is on the health and well-being of teens, adolescents live with and are accompanied by parents. My day to day encounters often include a significant amount of conversation with parents. Now most parents are a bit uncomfortable discussing their teens reproductive health. Add in sexuality that differs from the majority, and the conversation becomes even more challenging. These terms may change, but all of them mean their teen is disclosing they are a sexual minority. Read full post »
A Research Study About Access to Health Care for Transgender Youth
Version date: June 11, 2015
Researchers at Seattle Children’s want to learn about barriers faced by transgender youth and their families when they seek health care.
Are you a parent or guardian of a young person who is transgender, gender variant, or gender questioning? You could participate in our online survey about your family’s experience with health care and receive a $10 gift card. Survey responses are confidential and will not affect your child’s health care. There are no direct benefits to you if you take part in the study. Research is always voluntary!
To participate in the survey, please contact Julia Crouch at 206-884-1433 or email@example.com.
The principal researcher for this study is Dr. David Breland at Seattle Children’s, Adolescent Medicine.
Last week, I further explored gender identities. This week, I’m doing the same with sexual orientations. My series years ago didn’t mention some of the sexual orientations that are rapidly gaining recognition and descriptive language, and that anyone involved in a teen’s life has a good chance of hearing about; if not in relation to their teen, in relation to a peer. The two most common sexual orientations that I am hearing teens increasingly identify as are asexual and pansexual.
Read full post »
It’s been almost 2 years since I finished up my series on transgender teens. Since then, I’ve learned a lot, from teens in Adolescent Medicine, various books and online articles, and from friends I’ve met along the way. While I mentioned the term “genderqueer” in my last series, I wanted to expand on and discuss additional gender identities that I didn’t cover the last time I wrote about this topic.
Here are a few more gender terms you should know. How people who self-identify with these terms dress and present themselves varies widely, but that’s true for masculine and feminine genders as well!
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Teens and children face many challenges to growing up healthy and well adjusted. They may have school stress or disagreements with friends. There are pressures to succeed, to look a certain way or achieve certain goals. Teens face the added pressures of possible drug and alcohol use, new relationships, and self-esteem. Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement in support of gay marriage. Why did they do this? Because having two loving parents is associated with better outcomes for children and teens. Read full post »
Many parents are uncomfortable with the idea of transgender identity. They may have been taught that being transgender is a sickness, perverted or immoral. Many parents do not yet know anyone who is transgender. They may react to their child’s disclosure with tremendous discomfort.
The first step in addressing your discomfort is learning more about transgender identities in general and your child in particular. Previous blogs in this series provide much of the information you need. My previous blog includes suggestions for learning about your teen’s experiences and feelings.
Read full post »
Irwin Krieger, LCSW, is a counselor in New Haven, CT who works regularly with transgender teens and their families. In addition to his clinical work, he is also the author of “Helping Your Transgender Teen“, an excellent guide for parents and families of transgender teens.
Irwin has written two excellent short pieces for this blog, one of which I will be sharing today. This post looks at some feelings parents may encounter when discovering their teen is transgender, and how to talk to them about what they’ve just shared with you (or shared with you a long time ago, if you feel you haven’t had a good discussion with them.) It’s a simple, eloquent, thought-provoking entry, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did:
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