Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Transgender Children

Today on NPR there was a story that profoundly upset me. It was about two little boys, one on each coast, both of whom may be transgender (boys physically, but girls mentally and emotionally). You should listen to it.
Here’s a synopsis:
Each boy from about age two began to play with girl toys and associate with girls rather than boys. Their respective parents initially permitted this behavior, but eventually sought professional advice on how to handle their unique situations.
The West Coast family found a therapist who allowed the child to wear dresses and play with dolls because the child insisted he was a girl. The mother described the day she drove the child to Target to buy his first real dress as the happiest she has ever seen him. This family now has a well-adjusted six-year-old, whom they refer to as a girl.
The East Coast family found a therapist who recommended the child be treated as a boy. The parents slowly took away all girl toys and only allowed association with boys. The mother described how she began to find Barbies hidden in the couch as the child realized what was happening. And when the girlish things were all gone, this child simply stopped playing. This breaks my heart.
He only drew. And what did he draw? Rainbows and butterflies and girls. When asked to draw a "boy," he said, “I don’t know how.” For me this brings home how primal drawing is, how I should respect each of my student’s innate skills and vision.
This child is having problems, as you may have guessed. The mother describes how he is currently traumatized by pink. I sincerely hope these parents have a change of heart, because color should certainly not bring pain.
What do I take away from this stunning story? To accept and respect my kids’ unique attributes. To be thankful they seem to have an easier road ahead of them at this point. To allow boys to play with me, because Bratz are not just for girls.


Crail said...

I videotaped a 20 month old boy playing with his mother, and then the same boy playing with his father, three months later. Students were to determine why and how the boy's behavior was different with each parent. Most thought he behaved simply as a child with his mother but as a male with his father.
The why is the complicated question.

kloeamongtheturks said...

Yes, I agree that's it's complicated. I was also struck that the interview was with the mothers, you didn't hear the fathers' sides at all.
What killed me was a kid who stops playing. I love to see my kids play, and know that as they grow up their playtime will become less and less naturally. And the fact that as parents we are so unsure and easily swayed by experts because we so want to do the right things for our children.
Your research sounds fascinating.