Questioning teens and social contagion

Young people who for some reason feel dissatisfied with their sex often go to reddit’s various transgender communities to ask for advice.

A 14 year old kid asks for advice on two different subreddits about how to talk to family members about gender issues and about medications like estrogen.

On one of the posts, an adult invites the 14 year old to take contact privately.

adult aksing minors to PM him

In the other post, concrete advice about how to obtain prescription medication illegally is given, complete with dosages:

medication advice.PNG

Or how about this 13 year old, who writes:

Hello all, I’m thirteen today (yay!), and I’m kinda confused about my gender.

For my entire life, I’ve been happy with being a guy. I knew I didn’t fit in with other boys however, and surrounded myself with girls as my friends. I’m rather feminine, you can blame my sisters for that.

So, just turned 13, and is feminine boy.

About a year ago, thoughts passed through my head such as “if only I was a girl”. These thoughts were rare and I pushed them aside, not thinking anything of them. Roughly six months ago, I joined an online forum. I noticed that more than a few people were transgender. I knew what the term was before this, but, again, I didn’t think anything of it.

This story sounds familiar to anyone who’s been paying attention to the stories many newly trans teenagers post online. An intense period of bingeing on social media accounts of being trans leading to the teen suddenly identifying as trans themselves.

Two months ago, I started thinking about this. What if I was female? I liked the idea of it. I changed my gender on a few sites to female. One month ago, I started really reading up on it. I was a bit obsessed for one night, then I stopped thinking about it. Because I stopped thinking about it, I dismissed it again. Even though I thought I stopped thinking about it, three weeks ago I came out to my boyfriend, and then one week ago, my sister. They both took it very well. Last night, I was thinking and reading up on this like crazy, I was obsessed. I saw that most people realised at a young age, and so I thought I must be doing this for attention, or forcing myself to think this, or it might just be a phase which will go away.

What is the consensus in asktransgender?

you're transgender
You’re transgender.
if you think it then you are it
If you think, “I want to be a girl” at all then you are probably trans

Or this 14 year old, who asks for advice about feeling like a trans boy

I apologize in advance but I am desperate for insight and am feeling hopeless!! I’ve been considering if I’m a trans boy for the past two months (thinking about gender for almost a year) I am 14 and hopefully any of you can help.

It all started with my best friend and I talking about our characters (we dream of writing a series one day together haha) and I proposed if one of my characters was transgender and while exploring the character it was as if they way i saw them changed, that they were happier in the end and it was as if I was supposed to create them as a trans character to begin with (it’s strange and probably hard to understand)

After this I became uneasy, like something had shifted and when I asked my friends about my feelings they said maybe physiologically I identified as that character and was actually trans myself. This at first seemed unreal but also made sense in a away.

I have a obsessive personality and continued to research the hell out of the Internet, watched hours of youtube videos and began looking back at my self as I grew up. It seemed I was okay with being a girl as a child nothing really struck me as typical trans story of knowing at a young age(not trying to invalidate other people’s transitions whatsoever) but as a child I often enjoyed portraying the boys in pretend, years even. When I started puberty I became very insecure about my body (breasts and starting my period) I was always humiliated when people brought things even if it was my mom and it was just us. It seems I tolerate being a girl but I know I’m something other than that. Now more than ever I think about my gender for hours at a time, during school, while bathing and before I go to bed. I seem to be more comfy able with male clothes. 

It’s again a similar story. Being obsessed with transition videos on YouTube. Feeling uncomfortable during puberty. Feeling more comfortable in “male” clothes.

Not a single person who replies to this child mentions that most of the experiences being described are 100% normal and common. Which young woman has not felt embarrassed about getting breasts and a period? Nobody tells this child that which clothes you wear don’t make you a man or a woman.

The poster goes on to post again a month later, still confused:

Need some insight. I’ve been wondering about my gender for a year questioning If I’m trans for 3 months and have been in gender limbo since. I’m a indecisive, awkward and sensitive person which I believe relates to the fact I can’t make a decision on who I am. I believe being on t would make me happy but I’m terrified of loosing hair and being overly hairy, im uncomfortable with my chest and hips as well. Im not very masuline but neither am i feminine, it’s hard for me to imagine myself as a woman in the future but a man just seems like a far off dream. I can’t seem to imagine myself with anyone or having children and I believe that may relate to my gender issues. I feel like a fake and a phony and am terrified of realizing this is a phase. I’m only 14 but I’ve been obsessively researched everything (hours and hours, while in bed, sitting in bath, during class) and am in this exhausting gray area where everything is awful and just ‘exploring’ my identity isn’t an option. Am I maybe in denial or just confused ? (I understand people can’t tell me exactly who I am but still) Please any advice would be lovely.

And of course, gets this answer:

textbook trans.PNG
You’re textbook Trans

It turns out that this poster has no less than three friends who have also recently come to identify as transgender:

three friends

Teenagers have always been struggling to fit in, to figure out who they are, to label themselves. But it’s not until now that discovering your true self involves taking hormones and getting surgery. And it’s not until now that questioning whether it is wise for teens to be getting medication advice online is bigoted.



“We tried to make this kid be a boy”

In an article about a child who wants to be a boy, the parents talk about how the child “began taking on names commonly used for boys during playtime and displayed ‘male role modeling’.” They talk about how the child was happy when allowed to wear “boy clothes”. They talk about taking their child to a pediatrician and then to a psychologist.

Their pediatrician recommended visiting with a child psychologist who, after a three-hour evaluation, determined the child was gender variant. The psychologist explained it could be a phase or the child could later affirm a male identity — either way, she recommended that Ann support him by letting him play and dress as he wanted.

Then two years later:

When Ben turned 7, the child psychologist formally determined Ben was transgender.

This is eyebrow-raising (or should be), because according to research, most children who are “gender dysphoric” go on to become regular adults satisfied with their biological sex. From the WPATH  (World Professional Association for Transgender Health) guidelines: (note: link goes to a pdf file)

most cases of childhood gender dsyphoria do not persist into adulthood


Gender variance in childhood is normal. Risks of a GI-Childhood diagnosis include: Stigmatizing children with a diagnostic label when there is no disorder; diagnosis can become iatrogenic, instilling a sense in the child that “there is something wrong with me”; and a poor predictive value – 80% of children diagnosed with GID do not continue to have GID of adolescence or adulthood.

4 out of 5 children who experience gender identity disorder do not persist. They grow up to become well-functioning adults. Often, they grow up to be gay or lesbian. Furthermore, as the WPATH document points out, giving children a diagnostic label can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What is even more worrying is that so often these diagnoses are given to children that have been heavily policed by their parents regarding how they are allowed to express themselves. This story of a conservatively religious parent is a good example:

For Shappley and her family, it all began with a hair bow.

“I want a bow like Daisy,” her then-three-year-old son Joseph Paul begged of her. Shappley knew the big red bow, ponytails and princess dresses were things almost every little girl wished for. However, these weren’t for a daughter — Shappley reminded herself these were the requests of her son.

So a child with a penis asks for a hair bow. Instead of just letting the child wear a hair bow and not making a huge deal out of it, the parents tell him he can’t have them because they are for girls. They make him do “boy stuff”:

His desire to dress in little girl’s clothes is a secret Shappley has kept from the outside world since Joseph was just a toddler. As an infant, she put him in blue clothes. As a toddler, she made him do what shes says is ‘typical boy stuff,’ like fishing, playing football with his siblings and throwing little boy’s birthday parties.

“We tried to make this kid be a boy,” said Shappley. Still, Joseph kept seeking out what the girls had and, by the age of three, he was telling everyone he was a girl.

Of course the kid is telling people he’s a girl! You’ve been telling him that the thing he wants, that his female peers have, are only for girls. Why wouldn’t he try to get access to the pretty bows by saying he’s a girl? Three year old children do typically not have a good understanding of what it means to be a boy or a girl, most commonly understanding the terms by using stereotypes.

Shappley sought out more help, turning to pastors and her faith. Her hope was that her young boy would act like one.

The mother is hoping her child will “act like a boy”. What do  boys act like? Why does this child have to act in a certain way?

“So Christians are not gay, OK, that’s the mindset that I had.”

Having a gay child would of course be difficult for a person belonging to a religion in which being gay is seen as wrong. And children who strongly identify with the opposite sex in childhood do often grow into homosexual adults. This mother will now have a straight daughter.

Parents and children like these are now wildly popular in the news, there’s hardly a week or even a day without a story like this, a documentary, a reality show. How easy will it be for these children to change their minds, as 4 out of 5 of them will, statistically? How easy is it to change your mind about being the opposite sex when your parents have campaigned for your right to use the opposite bathroom and changing room at school? When your parents have spent money to sue the school district? When your entire family makes money and is famous from your transness?


“I would not be sad to see his male body go away”

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?

Pink blankets and salivating doctors: A look at the transgender children phenomenon

Pay attention to stories about children who are transgender. Without fail, they are filled to the brim with gender stereotypes. Kids are being diagnosed for playing with the “wrong” toys and liking the “wrong” things. In many of the stories, it is clear that either the parents, or the community, has put great importance in dividing things and interests into “for boys” and “for girls”. Children have a limited understanding of what it means to be a boy or a girl. For example, it’s not uncommon for children to think that the length of someone’s hair is what makes them a boy or a girl. If a child who likes dolls or long hair is told “those things are for girls”, their response might very well be “okay, then I want to be a girl”.

In this story, the mother of a boy tells us how “Instead of toy soldiers and trains, he asks for princesses and dolls for Christmas and birthdays”.

The mother of the child in this story talks about how her child said “I boy” as a toddler, and “rejected anything frilly or stereotypically girly”. The child themselves says the following:

Evan Singleton has now been living five years as a boy but remembers the pain of pretending.

“All the girls were doing Barbie dolls and nail polish, and I just wasn’t one of them,” he said. “All the boys were doing skateboards and helmets, and I wanted to do that stuff. I never felt right in that body.”

Why this kid thinks that you need a certain type of body to be interested in skateboards is not elaborated on.

The father of this male child who likes to wear dresses, calls the child “gender-fluid”. The father is quoted:

‘In truth, the realization that one of my children identifies with a gender that is opposite the sex she was born with was, and remains, absolutely unremarkable,’

While the father means well, the implications of this statement are not as progressive as it would seem. Liking “sparkly shoes and dresses” like this child did is somehow “opposite” from being a boy?

This male child expressed desire to “marry a prince”, and dressed up “as a girl” at home. The parents told the child  “[y]ou can go home and live as Danielle, or you can go home and live as Daniel”. Going home and living as Daniel AND wearing dresses was apparently not an option.

The parents of this male child tell this story:

At 5 months, she took a pink blanket meant for her sister Lily. Later, she showed little interest in toy cars and boy clothes with pictures of sports, monsters and dinosaurs on them. She refused to leave the house if she had to wear boy clothes. After her parents accepted her identity, they said, Coy come out of her shell.

A five month old baby reaches for a pink blanket. An infant, who does not even grasp that objects exist even when they are out if sight, is capable of understanding that they are the “wrong” sex, capable of understanding that pink is a color more often worn by girls, and reaches for a blanket to somehow communicate all of this. And when the parents lets the child wear the same thing that the other children in the family wear, the child seems happier. Very mysterious.

Another article about the same child tells a story about a boy whose parents had strict rules for clothes and hair styles:

At three and a half, Coy turned sullen. He’d spend days on the couch, wrapped in the fuzzy pink security blanket he’d commandeered from his sister. He didn’t want to play, or talk. He especially didn’t want to go outside; any enthusiasm Coy might show for a trip to the playground would disappear as soon as he’d catch sight of the boys’ clothes he was expected to swap for the dresses he wore at home. The only thing Coy hated more was the prospect of getting a haircut; the last time his parents had suggested it, Coy had taken to his bed for days, listless and tearful.


Little by little, Kathryn began letting Coy leave home dressed in a pink shirt – anything to pry him from the house with minimal fuss – and soon enough, with pink sneakers to match. Jeremy drew the line at letting Coy wear colorful hair clips outdoors. “I was trying to avoid a negative experience,” recalls Jeremy, who is even-tempered and stocky with rimless glasses. “Someone going, ‘Why are you dressing your son up as a girl?'”

“Letting” Coy wear a pink shirt – as if the color of a shirt is so important that you literally have to be a girl to be allowed it. And note the father’s statement. God forbid someone thinking he’s letting his son dress up as a girl! A girl dressing up as a girl however, is much more  acceptable.

This story tells us that “the number of primary school children referred to the NHS with transgender feelings has quadrupled in five years”. What happens to these kids? According to the guidelines of World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), found here, in most children with “gender dysphoria”, the feelings will disappear before they become adults.

Gender dysphoria during childhood does not inevitably continue into adulthood.V Rather, in follow-up studies of prepubertal children (mainly boys) who were referred to clinics for assessment of gender dysphoria, the dysphoria persisted into adulthood for only 6–23% of children (Cohen-Kettenis, 2001; Zucker & Bradley, 1995). Boys in these studies were more likely to identify as gay in adulthood than as transgender (Green, 1987; Money & Russo, 1979; Zucker & Bradley, 1995; Zuger, 1984). Newer studies, also including girls, showed a 12–27% persistence rate of gender dysphoria into adulthood (Drummond, Bradley, Peterson-Badali, & Zucker, 2008; Wallien & Cohen-Kettenis, 2008).

What treatments are these kids typically offered? Many of them are being given “puberty blockers”, drugs that prevent the body from going through puberty, putting maturation on hold. This is supposed to give them time to think, and decide whether they want to live as the sex they were born, or go on to take the hormones of the opposite sex. But how are these kids, many of whom have an extremely simplified and immature understanding of sex and gender, supposed to take this choice when their brains are being prevented from maturing? Lupron, the main drug being used for this purpose, can lead to permanent loss of bone density. It also has depression as a common side effect.

Doctors are now performing sex change operations on minor children:

Dr. Christine McGinn estimated that she had done more than 30 operations on children under 18, about half of them vaginoplasties for biological boys becoming girls, and the other half double mastectomies for girls becoming boys.

In the same article, Dr. Norman Spack of Boston Children’s Hospital, says that he was “salivating” at the prospect of giving puberty suppressing medications to pre-pubescent children:

Dr. Spack recalled being at a meeting in Europe about 15 years ago, when he learned that the Dutch were using puberty blockers in transgender early adolescents.

“I was salivating,” he recalled. “I said we had to do this.”

Children, who cannot legally get tattoos even with parental consent, are being sterilized, for a condition that seems to rely heavily on sexist stereotypes, by doctors who salivate at the thought of giving this treatment.

“The catalog of her interests, behaviors and clothing choices”: On gender stereotypes in stories of transgender children.

If you pay attention to news stories about transgender people, especially young kids, you will notice that they are often brimming with stereotypes. Here are just some examples:

So I might have had a daughter who would paint her nails with me and play Barbies. I could have helped her braid her hair and, later, pick out her prom dress. I could have watched her walk down the aisle with pride. I am sure that life would have been good, but I promise it wouldn’t be nearly as fulfilling as the journey I’ve had with my son.

The above quote is from the mother of FtM child, who also describes her child as getting a ‘boy haircut’. The child, who is 16 years old, has also gotten “top surgery”, which is the cutesy name for a double mastectomy often used in these stories.

Another parent tells this story:

she requested that we get rid of the horrible “boy” things that had plagued her all of her young life. That year, she worked with a joyful, fevered intensity as she yanked down every single item in the house that hinted “boy” to her and dropped them with relief into the front room.

The mother of the child described by this quote goes on to describe how she suddenly realized that her child “never was a boy” because he didn’t make car noises when he played. She also says:

Quickly my mind raced through the catalog of her interests, behaviors and clothing choices, and I saw how many clues I had missed.

It cannot be said any clearer: this parent really believes that a child’s interests and clothing choices are significant indicators when it comes to administering medical treatment that will have to be continued for their entire lives.

She  goes on to describe her child like this:

My beautiful teenage daughter, with her flowing hair, strong sense of style and love of gossip

Apparently male children cannot have flowing hair, a sense of style and a love of gossip.

In another article, we find this quote:

Except both these girls were born boys. Within a couple of years, as soon as they could talk in fact, they were preoccupied with anything normally associated with girls – dresses, jewellery, dolls and girls’ names.

The toy preferences of toddlers are again taken as signs that there is something wrong with them (born in the “wrong body”). Male children playing with dolls are pathologized.

According to their parents, from an early age Lily and Jessica were very aware of gender. They became increasingly unhappy with their gender and were drawn to dresses and toys more typically associated with girls.

If a child is told that their interests are “wrong”, and that a specific toy or item of clothing is “for girls”, then OF COURSE the child is going to be “unhappy with their gender”. Children are growing up in a time where gender stereotypes are VICIOUSLY enforced, often by parents.

And not unhappy in the way a child might be unhappy if you forced them to tidy their bedroom or eat sprouts. Lily and Jessica were becoming uncomfortable and even distressed about being boys.

“If I had to live as a boy I would be really upset,” Lily says. “Really upset. But now I’m sort of living as a girl I feel much better.” It’s a medical condition known as gender dysphoria or gender variance.

Has anyone asked this child what he thinks “living as a boy” and “living as a girl” means?

The next article features a boy whose parents very obviously tried to enforce gender roles on him:

At 3, Mark asked to dress for Halloween as Dora the Explorer; his parents bargained him down to Darth Vader, which at least featured a cape. 

Why do parents have to “bargain him down” from a Dora the Explorer costume? For those who don’t know, Dora the Explorer looks like this:


A pink t-shirt, orange shorts and a purple backpack. Speaking as a parent, the author of this post would be thrilled by such a straightforward and simple costume. No need for sewing, or complicated masks, capes or accessories. But apparently, to the parents in the article, this costume was so objectionable that they could not allow it.

The child’s father elaborates:

I’m in a conservative business; I sell software,” he says. “I want the normal life. And this was gonna be different, when my son is getting out of the car in a dress in front of everybody. But then you have to think about who are you protecting? Yourself or your kid? People would say, ‘I can’t believe you’d let your kid do that. That’s abuse.’ I’ll tell you what’s abuse: suicide. Do you want a live daughter or a dead son?”

A son in a dress, unacceptable. But a daughter in a dress, much better.

The article concludes:

though I am using male and female pronouns to differentiate between the time before and after the transition, her parents don’t. Out of respect for their daughter, they use “she,” or try to, even when talking about the past. Similarly, they have edited out of their albums and wall displays six years of pictures of Molly as a boy and have bought a new carved oak figurine to update the genders in a family crèche on the mantelpiece.

Does this strike anyone else as incredibly sad? They have literally edited their child’s history our of their lives.

Another story of a girl child with parents who have very clear expectations of her behavior and interests:

In the fall of 2009, we welcomed a beautiful redheaded baby girl into our family.  We swaddled her in pink and lace, bought baby dolls we expected her to play with soon.  But Lola had other plans. Lola had no interest in dolls, instead gravitating toward trucks, cars and dinosaurs. In stores, she would ignore the girls section and go right to the boys. “I want these, Mommy!” she would say, pointing to the blue Vans with airplanes on them, and the dark blue or red flannel shirts. We were open, so we indulged Lola with typical toys for boys.  But I started to wonder, and gently ask. Was this a phase or part of my daughter’s true identity?

If you describe letting your child play with the toys that interests her as “indulging”, you are not, in fact, “open”. And what is “true identity” supposed to mean in this context? The idea that which toys a child plays with are indicative of their “true identity” is a RIDICULOUS idea, and yet it is so pervasive.

Lola even started to come out to my family members. During a trip to California, she said, “Uncle Dave, I have something to tell you.”

“Yes, Lola?” he said.

“I’m a boy.”

“Well, OK!” he responded, not totally surprised given the previous indicators and their shared interest in “Star Wars” and dinosaurs.

This child’s entire family seems to be extremely invested in narrow gender roles.

The examples are abundant. Here is a boy who wanted to play with barbies:

At the toy store, Brandon would head straight for the aisles with the Barbies or the pink and purple dollhouses. Tina wouldn’t buy them, instead steering him to neutral toys: puzzles or building blocks or cool neon markers. One weekend, when Brandon was 2½, she took him to visit her 10-year-old cousin. When Brandon took to one of the many dolls in her huge collection—a blonde Barbie in a pink sparkly dress—Tina let him bring it home. He carried it everywhere, “even slept with it, like a teddy bear.”

But his parents are reluctant, trying to force other preferences on their child.

Tina had no easy explanation for where Brandon’s behavior came from. Gender roles are not very fluid in their no-stoplight town, where Confederate flags line the main street. Boys ride dirt bikes through the woods starting at age 5; local county fairs feature muscle cars for boys and beauty pageants for girls of all ages. In the Army, Tina operated heavy machinery, but she is no tomboy. When she was younger, she wore long flowing dresses to match her long, wavy blond hair; now she wears it in a cute, Renée Zellweger–style bob. Her husband, Bill (Brandon’s stepfather), lays wood floors and builds houses for a living. At a recent meeting with Brandon’s school principal about how to handle the boy, Bill aptly summed up the town philosophy: “The way I was brought up, a boy’s a boy and a girl’s a girl.”

Parents refuse their child to play with toys he’s interested in, because they are “for girls”. Parents then get very confused when child tells them he’d rather be a girl. How about we stop trying to make children “match” their genitals with respect to clothing, toys and behaviors?

“I wanted to know what it feels like to be a woman, or an apple”: Twelve-year-old talks about his reasons for being transgender

This post will only have screenshots and quotes, no links, due to the age of the poster featured here.

A boy who claims to be twelve years old posts to a transgender sub-reddit:

Hi my name is Evan. I am 12, but will be turning 13 in about a month or so. I am currently a cis-gendered male. Recently, I have started to question my sexuality. I started questioning a few weeks ago after I came home from a GSA club meeting in my school. This was the first time I ever went and I was curious to go. I learned a lot about the LGBT community and when I got home, I did A LOT of research on bi, gay, lesbian. I left out transgender because I already new about it and thought I new about most of it. The next week, the meeting had 2 special guests. They were both transgender FtM (and transitioning). Anyways, knowing my normal self and my curiosity, I researched more thoroughly and found out a lot more information. This past meeting was a few days ago. Nevertheless, I started to fit in the puzzle pieces. The first few hours of researching, I thought I might be transgender, then, I thought I wasn't the next day. This repeated until today. I now think there is quite a large possibility that I can be transgender. When I first heard the word "transgender", I knew it didn't apply to me. This was about 1 year ago. The reason I knew this wasn't the case was because I didn't feel like a "girl trapped in a boy's body". Before I go further, let me tell you about me by answering questions I made up, or by making statements explaining myself.

A year ago he was definitely not trans, then after researching the topic online, he is unsure but thinks he might be. He posts a long laundry list of things that makes him think he’s trans:

Do you feel like a "girl trapped in a boy's body"? No, but the more I say it in my mind, and the more I think about it, the more I realize this might be the case. If you had the chance to be 100% female, would you take it? Definitely! I would love to become female! Do you think your life would be better if you were a female? Yes, 100%. I envy every girl in the world for having what I don't. I envy everything, from their body parts, to their nature and characteristics. Do you have depression? I have not been diagnosed, but I am almost 99% positive that I am. I have thoughts about suicide daily, but I know that I would probably never attempt suicide. The reason I am answering this question is because I have realized that a lot of transgender people have had, or are depressed. Does thinking about being a girl make you happy or bring up a good feeling? Yes. Whenever I think about what life would be like as a girl, it makes me happy inside and makes me feel good. I can honestly say that I would enjoy being female. When you look at members of the other gender, what do you feel? I feel envious or jealous. I'm worried that the only reason I even enjoy looking at pretty girls or being "attracted" to them is really me just being jealous. I mean, if I think about it, I don't really find having sex as a man appealing, but as a woman I do.

From not feeling like “a girl trapped in a boy’s body” to “realiz[ing] this might be the case”. Envious of girls, “from their body parts, to their nature and characteristics”. Suicidal.

From an early age, I was always curious about what being something "else" would be like. An example would be "Pokemon" where a ditto can transform into different things. Another example is in animes when people would transform into different people or things. I once watched this anime as a kid and in one episode, this guy started transforming into a dragon into a way. Every time I watched this, it sent a giddy chill down my spine. It felt, weird; an odd feeling that made me feel... good, happy, excited. I always envy these types of characters because I have always wanted to transform, or "change". I wanted to know what it "feels" like to be a woman, or an apple for this case. Anything really, just different.

Fascinated with “change”, whether is’t transforming into a dragon, a woman, or “an apple”.

I would also like to add that while I would enjoy a better life as woman, I am fine at the moment of being male. I just worry that as time moves on, this, craving or ache to become a woman just gets worse (and I'm almost sure it will). I don't imagine myself as being that manly, in fact, I really don't care about how strong I am. I don't care about becoming a body builder. While I do have a lot of hobbies and traits of males, I think I do have a lot of traits that woman have. I also have a hobby that is sort of socially unacceptable for a man to do but I want to do: sewing or knitting. I also secretly love animals and think they are adorable ;)

He’s fine with being male, but, no doubt because he’s been reading a lot of trans stuff online, he feels sure that the desire to become female will get worse. Notice also the naive beliefs in gender roles: thinking that not wishing to become a strong body builder makes him less male. Thinking that wanting to learn to knit and sew and liking animals is in some way significant to his “gender identity”. Thinking that playing video games as a girl is a “major pointer” of being transgender.

What do the commenters say?

“You are probably trans”

You can't gauge something like this. I think you probably are, based on the static perception I have of you from this post.

“If puberty doesn’t sound appealing to you, you should take hormone blockers”. As if puberty sounds so appealing to young kids. The commenters also give specifics on what to say to healthcare providers to achieve this:

I don't know enough about people your age, but, uh, how does default puberty sound to you, as things presently stand? If that sounds like a bad thing you don't want to happen you should be talking to a therapist and your parents and your doctor and getting access to blockers once you're at the proper stage of development. People won't tell you you are trans or not, in general, it's for you to decide. You have access to more information than any other person with respect to your identity. You may find that your questioning goes a lot easier if you dodge "am I trans" for a while and notice instead your feelings about what sort of future you want. This is also sometimes a thing that makes it easier to communicate with people, for example, "I think it is rather likely that I will transition to female, so you should give me access to blockers shortly after I reach tanner stage 2, because this will not harm me and will help ensure I reach the best possible future, regardless of how my gender identity stuff turns out."

More planting of the idea of puberty blockers:

I see a lot of similarities in our experiences, but that might be confirmation bias. I'd say talk to a trans friendly therapist, and if you feel it'd help you, get on puberty blockers.

The next commenter brings upidea that “the more masculine you get the more you get dysphoria”. This commenter, who is only 13 years old themselves, are eager to have more people like themselves to relate to.

You remind me a LOT of myself. People say I talk like a 16 year old, they say that's a compliment but I'm not sure that's a good thing, lol. Additionally, you just described my situation. I just realized a few months ago, actually. Not to make you feel bad, but yes it does get worse. The more masculine you get the more you get dysphoria. So based on what you said, you are in fact trans*. I also never appreciated any kind of male physique, it never appealed to me. Makes

And finally, a 30 year old male chimes in:

Seconding everyone else who says that your answers to 2/3/5/6/9 are big huge honking signs that you're trans. I can tell you right here that I continuously felt this way ever since I was your age (and my answer to 1 was like yours: I never felt like "a girl trapped in a guy's body"). Those thoughts never, ever went away. I finally started dealing with them when I was 28, and I'm absolutely loving my transition. My only regret is that I didn't start sooner.

The next day, the twelve year old makes four new posts, asking among other things if he will look feminine with hormone therapy and whether he will “pass well”, He also say now that he’s “80-100% sure” that he is transgender”.

He gets told again how important it is to take blockers, and that only blockers will let him “make it out unscathed”. The second commenter is an adult male who transitioned late in life, who emphasizes how important it is to transition early.

The results of HRT cannot be predicted. You would have to be able to know (and interpret) your specific genetics. However, if you start blockers soon (as in, within like 3 years) you'll make it out largely unscathed.You can't predict the results, but the more male puberty you can avoid the better. Trust me, having your facial hair burned off with a laser is not fun.

“The younger you start the better”:

Boobs. Boobs extraordinaire. And the younger you start the better. Remember testosterone still affects you even after puberty.

More talk of how vital it is to start early:

You're 12, as long as you're on puberty blockers until you start taking hrt you'll develop normally as a girl going through puberty. That doesn't guarantee anything but not having to paint over testosterone you start the painting with estrogen so it'd be ideal

“As long as you get puberty blockers, grow out your hair, and start HRT when it’s possible, it’s all good”:

Hmm, the link is broken. But from the thumbnail, yes. Your face is still quite mild, only beginning to develop masculine features. As long as you get puberty blockers, grow out your hair, and start HRT when it's possible, it's all good in the hood. P.S. You're cute as hell. I'm a lesbian, meet me in 10 years or so when you've started HRT? haha

It took one day to go from being ok with being male, to being 80-100% sure he is trans. The majority of the replies he is getting focuses on how important starting early is, and some of them feature exact quotes he’s supposed to parrot to healthcare providers with the explicit goal to get prescribed hormone blockers and then hormones. Both serious medications that, if taken without going through his natural puberty, will sterilize him. No one asks him why he wants to be female or why he envies girls. No one talks about how it’s normal to wish we were someone else.

One day later, he posts this:

Hi, my name is REDACTED! I have just discovered that I am transgender MtF!. I am currently 12, but turning 13 in a month or so. I AMAB. I have not been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, but I am almost 100% sure I have it. I am probably going to start anti-androgens after I come out (probably in a few months). I only found out I was transgender about 3 days ago. I can't stop thinking about transitioning. There is a constant hum in the back of my head. I can't think straight. I am also aware that staying on anti-androgens for an extended period amount of time is very bad for you. Isn't 5 years too long to stay on anti-androgens? I can't wait 5 years to get HRT. I'll go insane or kill myself. The best way I can describe what I feel right now is this (Gender Dysphoria): Imagine you're at the bottom of a tall, steep, snowy mountain. There is a snowball attached to a rope which is attached to you. As you walk up the mountain, the snowball gets bigger as it collects snow which means it gets heavier. Eventually, the ball gets too heavy to drag behind you. You stop. And fall. And can't get back up. Up until recently, the snowball has been light, although slowly gaining size and weight. At the moment, the snowball is huge, it's menacing, and scary. I can't run away any further. I'm on the edge of collapsing. This... Is what I feel inside me... How do you guys cope with this because I'm feeling really down...?

He can’t wait 5 years or he will go insane or kill himself. It’s hard to believe this kid would have gotten ideas like these on his own accord. The “helpful” commenters each push a tiny bit, each provide a single drip of “male puberty will ruin you”, “get on blockers”, “the younger you start the better”. And not only in the comments directed at this boy, comments of the same type are all over reddit and other websites, and young people questioning their identity can read them all. It reinforces their beliefs again and again.

To parents whose children tell you they are transgender: GET THEM OFF THE INTERNET! Websites like reddit is full of people reinforcing belief systems like the one we see in this blog. Some are well-meaning, some are creeps. But few of them seem interested in helping kids figure out why they feel the way they do, and none seem to consider that there might be other things going on in the life of kids that make them feel inadequate in their bodies.