Think back to your earliest childhood memories. What were your favorite playthings? Did you prefer traditionally masculine toys or traditionally feminine toys?
Now, imagine raising a son who prefers to act like a daughter; a tormented child pleading with you to cut off their genitals.
Or a daughter who wants to wear her hair short and screams uncontrollably…if you put her into dresses.
This painful battle between parents and child starts in children as young as two.
Gender is different than assigned sex. Gender is how you see yourself on a spectrum, from male to female, or even androgynous.
CNN examines families who are raising children with gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder.
According to the NCBI, Gender identity disorder is a conflict between a person’s actual physical gender and the gender that person identifies himself or herself as. For example, a person identified as a boy may actually feel and act like a girl. The person experiences significant discomfort with the biological sex they were born.
The American Psychological Association warns that “It is not helpful to force the child to act in a more gender-conforming way.” When they’re forced to conform, some children spiral into depression, behavioral problems and even suicidal thoughts.
When children insist that their gender doesn’t match their body, it can trigger a confusing, painful odyssey for the family. And most of the time, these families face isolating experiences trying to decide what is best for their kids, especially because transgender issues are viewed as mysterious, and loaded with stigma and judgment.
Mario, a 14-year-old Californian who asked his full name not be used, was born female. He dresses and acts like a boy, because, he said, since he was 2 years old, he never genuinely felt like a girl.
“I feel uncomfortable in female clothes,” said Mario. “I feel like why should I wear this when it’s not who I am? Why should I be this fake person?”
This is a pretty loaded topic and one that comes with judgements from people on all sides. How can you allow your child to develop this identity at such a young age is often asked. But oftentimes, most parents just want their child to be happy and having a child with gender identity crisis is a daily struggle. You face judgement from your family, friends and even strangers when they find out the real “sex” of your child.
“It’s important to acknowledge the signs of gender dysphoria, especially for children,” said Eli Coleman, who chaired a committee to update treatment guidelines for the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, an international medical group .
“By not addressing it, it could be really more damaging for the child than not.”
“It’s a very difficult area and there are a lot of children who have gender nonconformity. They will simply grow out of that. Many of them later on identify as gay or lesbian, rather than transgender.”
Mario says, “Don’t change for nobody else,” he said. “Just be you and be happy.”
I want to know your thoughts on raising a child with gender identity disorder.
Should parents allow their child to live as the opposite sex? Or does this cause more harm than good? What would you do?
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