CNN reports on transgender children and their quest for acceptance.
One of the first things Thomas Lobel told his parents was that they were wrong.
The 3-year-old had learned sign language because he had apraxia, a speech impediment that hindered his ability to talk. The toddler pointed to himself and signed, “I am a girl.”
“Oh look, he’s confused,” his parents said. Maybe he mixed up the signs for boy and girl. So they signed back. “No, no. Thomas is a boy.”
But the toddler shook his head. “I am a girl,” he signed back emphatically.
Regardless of the fact he was physically male, Thomas has always maintained that he is a girl. When teased at school about being quiet and liking dolls, Thomas would repeat his simple response, “I am a girl.”
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.
Transgender kids do not come from lax parenting where adults “roll over” to their kids’
whims, said Olson, who treats transgender children.
“The parents are tortured by it,” she said. “These are not easy decisions. Parents go through a long process going through this.”
Moreno and Lobel allowed their child pick his own clothes at age 8. Thomas chose girl’s clothing and also picked four bras. Then, Thomas wanted to change his name to Tammy and use a female pronoun. This is called social transitioning and can include new hairstyles, wardrobe. Aside from mental health therapy, this stage involves no medical interventions. Social transitioning is completely reversible, said Olson, a gender identity specialist.
Every step of the way, her parents told Tammy, “If at any time you want to go back to your boy’s clothes, you can go back to Thomas. It’s OK.” Tammy has declined every time. She continues to see therapists.
Tammy’s room is painted bright golden yellow, decorated with stuffed animals and cluttered with pink glittery tennis shoes. At home, Tammy dances through the hallway, twirling in her pink flower dress.
“As soon as we let him put on a dress, his personality changed from a very sad kid who sat still, didn’t do much of anything to a very happy little girl who was thrilled to be alive,” Moreno said.
Transgender Episcopalians’ organization is TransEpiscopal – for more click here.