A parent posts to r/asktransgender for advice regarding her young son. The son is four years old.
My 4 year old son has for awhile been saying he’s a girl. We have corrected him, just thinking he’s confused (he learned to speak late) but lately he’s been saying he wants to grow up and be a princess, and be pretty like mommy, he’s even said he would wear dresses, he loves to play apps on his tablet that involve makeup and hair styling, he likes to show us his “boobs”…
Please note.. I have stopped correcting him. Because of our enlightenment on this issue and the education that’s available, I understand the possibility for all my children to question everything about their identity, and I just want them to be who they are so they can do what they are supposed to do in this world.
My question is: is it too early for him to intrinsically know he is a girl? Not in the sexual sense, of course he’s not a sexual being yet, but in terms of gender? And if he could already know, how do I protect him yet nurture him?
What is a parent to make of this behavior? Well, how about asking the kid why he would like to be a girl? Is it because he thinks only girls can be pretty and wear dresses? Kids very often have this naive view of the world. She does not seem to have asked him this, and the suggestion to do so does not come up. However, the commenters advise her to let the kid wear whatever clothes he wants, which is very good advice. Just let him do his thing, several commenters say, he has years ahead of him to figure things out. For most kids, insisting they are the other sex is a phase, and the majority grow out of it and come to be comfortable with their bodies. And for a concerned parent, that should be great news, right? After all, the medical treatments for transgender people are nothing to take lightly; they can have serious side effects.
This mom however, seems very eager to have a transgender child, and she seems very sure that he really is fundamentally different from his brothers:
Many little boys who are effeminate in childhood end up being gay men as adults. That is apparently not an option this mom has considered.
She mentions several times how she dreamed that he was a girl when she was pregnant with him.
“I wouldn’t be sad to see his male body go away“. That is a deeply disturbing statement, and no one calls her out on it.
She talks about wanting to make “transgender art”.
She even has a media strategy ready:
The commenters praise her for being such an understanding and good parent, and the media thing is brought up again:
Just a month later, the mom posts an update. Note that both posts are to r/asktransgender. She does not ask for advice on any of reddit’s parenting forums. If she did, she might have found support in other parents of children who do not conform to gender roles, and she might realize that this type of behavior is actually pretty common with young kids.
The reddit community was so helpful to me. I thought I should update our story, and frankly I need support…
My son has been quoted as saying “the words that come out of my mouth talk about fire trucks. But I really want long hair with big pink bows in it”
He was previously ok with getting his hair cut. We took him yesterday to get a haircut and he begged the stylist to make him look like mommy.
My MIL took him shoe shopping. He requested in the car on the way there he wanted “dancing shoes”. At kohls he picked out (to everyone’s horror) a pair of pink shoes studded with jewels. (I was not present so he did not get the shoes)
He’s asked me not to cut his hair off ever again.
I’m ok with all of it. Excited to help him. He said he wants be called a girl.
Why does the kid seem to think there is something wrong with talking about fire trucks AND having long hair? The incident with the shoes is a clue here. He’s being told that he can’t have pink “dancing shoes”, presumably because he’s a boy. This is unfortunately very typical, adults enforcing rigid gender roles on their children. Of COURSE boys should be able to wear pink dancing shoes. It seems to us that what this mom needs is people who support her and her son in saying “no” to gender roles and assuring him that it’s okay to be different.
Again she seems to have already made up her mind about the kid. “I just know something is different”.
Again she brings up dreaming that her son was a girl:
Commenters are again falling over themselves to tell her what a great parent she is. Some of the commenters recommend books and blogs, all of them are about specifically transgender children. No one posts links to books or blogs about gay children or non-transgender children who do not conform to gender roles. We are witnessing the “funnel effect” again in the online transgender community. Most children who act like this kid grow up to be adults at peace with their bodies. Some do not, but this mom is seeking out only the stories of those kids. And again, it is striking just how much she seems to want her child to be transgender. “I would not be sad to see his male body go away”, she says. Would she trade a kid with a healthy male body for a child who gives up their fertility and risks serious side effects from puberty blockers and hormone treatments?