It is starting to become a familiar story. Young teens come to transgender communities on pages like reddit, being confused about themselves because they don’t conform to sex role stereotypes. Within months, they become convinced that they are transgender, and start experiencing despair over their bodies.
Here is another such story. It begins three months ago.
“Am I a familiar story?“, the kid asks, and proceeds to rattle off a laundry list of stereotypes:
The elements are very familiar to anyone who has read a few of these questioning posts. Painting nails, playing with dolls, being good at recognizing emotions, having female friends, and not fitting in as a guy, are all given significance in figuring out one’s identity. Conversely, liking science, Indiana Jones and explosions are considered signs of a “male” identity. This kid clearly has a very rigid perception of what being male and female is. Which is okay! Many kids and teens do, and who can blame them, growing up in a sexist society where gender roles are rigidly enforced.
And some of the posters point this out to him.
However, the comment with the most upvotes does no such thing:
“Sounds trans. Sounds trans. Sounds trans”. This commenter wants the kid to know that liking nail polish and dolls makes him sound trans.
The exchange continues, concluding with this:
“My mom still seems to think I need to wait a year before hormones”. To most people this would sound reasonable – after all, going on cross-sex hormones without having completed natural puberty can sterilize you for life, and is a major decision to make, especially for a 15 year old. But to this kid, that is not important. This is kind of why we don’t let 15 year old make big, life-changing decisions. They are not good at thinking through the consequences.
He posts again, asking if he “has to be comfortable with public cross-dressing” before getting hormones. The answer is an overwhelming no.
Not just is it not a good idea, it can even lead to suicide!
This is worrying because it makes it so kids feeling this way are told to not even experiment with being gender-nonconforming. Maybe this kid would have discovered that he is in fact a boy who enjoys wearing fabulous clothes and nail polish, and settled into being happy as a feminine male. Instead he is told that hormones are what he needs, and urgently.
Any psychologist who tries to make a patient live in their desired gender role before administering sterilizing treatment should go to jail!
And the commenters oblige, giving him links to guides for obtaining hormones without a prescription:
Then comes a rush of posts asking for advice on how to “pass” as female: (no direct links here to protect privacy, just screenshots of comments) Here is a commenter pushing him to get on hormones so he can become pretty.
More posts asking whether he passes, more commenters telling him that he needs to take HRT:
And now he starts to become depressed about his looks. The comments he is getting on his pictures, even the ones who tell him that he looks male, still tell him that he is cute, adorable, and rocking dresses and “girly” clothes. But because he has decided that only looking like a biological female is good enough, he still experiences distress. Like we have seen in a previous post on this blog, becoming determined to undergo radical changes to your body can make you feel worse about yourself, especially when your goals are unrealistic.
And then, not fully 3 months after first posting, he is starting hormone replacement therapy, and wants to know “how long estrogen takes to reshape your face“.
“OMFG I HAVE WAITED SO LONG”. Three months. This kid has waited THREE months from starting to question whether his love of nail polish as a 5 year old makes him “female”, to suppressing puberty and taking hormones that will sterilize him for the rest of his life. And he thinks these hormones will completely transform his face. What is going to happen to him when he realizes that actually becoming fully female is not possible? Instead of being happy as a boy who likes to be feminine and wear “girl” clothes, he is going down the road of obsessing over medical treatments.