SPINOFF: Appropriate age to express gender identity/sexuality?

posted 10 months ago in Parenting
Post # 2
Member
359 posts
Helper bee

Kids’ gender expression often changes over time. Some kids may express their authentic identity as soon as they are talking, and some kids may wait until they’re teenagers – or older. I think the important thing is to ALWAYS trust your child – if your toddler tells you they’re one gender, then the respectful thing to do is believe them and let them have that expression of their identity. Ultimately, if you’re arguing with a 3-year-old (or 10-year-old, or teen – or anyone!) about gender identity, you may need to assess why you’re doing that.

It’s also important to recognize that non-traditional gender presentation does not necesarily equal that a child is trans; many children experiment and play and try on identities either in a serious or playful way, and then ultimately decide they are cis. If we treat this as an acceptable thing, it not only helps trans children to feel more accepted when they do this, but it’s also beneficial to cisgender children who learn about identity, respect, and dignity at a younger age.

Post # 3
Member
1460 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

marlos :  All of this exactly.

Post # 4
Member
4036 posts
Honey bee

I’d trust the child to be able to express his/her feelings on gender identification at any age – provided they’re verbal. After all, it might change, things like this aren’t always carved in stone. Children change rapidly and so do the ways in which they see themselves. I think the important thing is just to take it in stride and not make a big deal out of it.

And as for the woman raising her kids to be no gender, I think she’s horribly misguided and is turning her kid into a pariah. And shes too stupid to do anything but pat herself on the back for being so socially conscious. Instead of a confident kid, she’s going to have a socially awkward kid.

Post # 5
Member
549 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2020 - Summer Camp!

I agree with gender identity possibly ebbing and flowing. In regards to hormone therapy, I’d probably only make that decision with my hypothetical child and their doctor if they were consistent from childhood to adolescence, since that’s a big deal. 

Post # 6
Member
640 posts
Busy bee

I had my first crush around 5 and everyone just thought it was endearing; except the little boy I was crushing on who was just embarassed, lol.
My point is: I was a little girl with a crush on a little boy and no one thought anything of it. So if its a 4-5 yr old boy had a crush on another little boy, I would believe them.

Post # 7
Member
1631 posts
Bumble bee

I mean I see it as a fairly simple decision matrix when a child expresses a gender preference that doesn’t match his or her biological apperanance.

If you trust the child and:

1A. The child is expressing the gender he/she will identify with over a long time, then you affirming that will help provide them with comfort and support in a society that will make them feel misunderstood and isolated.

2A. The child is expressing a gender he/she will identify with only momentarily, then you affirming that will reassure the child that if they are ever “different” in another way, that you’ll be there for them. 

If you dont’ trust the child. 

1B. Child feels even more misunderstood and isolated. 

2B. Child is probably okay, but feels like you don’t really have his or her back. 

 

Being supportive really seems like the only winning option here. 

 

Whether or not to allow them to embark on a path of permanent biological changes, that I am less sure about and would have to decide when actually confronted with it. I know I’d trust a teenager, but I don’t know how young I would go. 

Post # 9
Member
1679 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2018

rockclimberbride :  I will go against the grain here.  Children thrive on boundaries and structure.  They are also incredibly impressionable.  It is our job to protect them and allow them to be children and focus on learning social skills and reading etc.  

I am fine with children to experiment with their identities to a degree, but it has to remain within social normaties.  I will not allow my child to wear a disney costume to a wedding (seen it at a friends wedding) I will not let them go by a different pronoun to their sex.  

I will also not allow a prepubescent child to act like they’ve already hit puberty.  No hair dye, adult clothes, makeup etc. 

Now when they become pre-teens or teens that to me is when they start to form an identity outside of the family structure and beliefs.  That is when I will give them a lot more freedom to start to form their identity, and if that did involve being a different gender, then so be it. 

Once their an adult, then they can be whoever they want to be and I will support them, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone.

Post # 10
Member
359 posts
Helper bee

rockclimberbride :  I think the same answers still apply, regardless of what outward expression of gender you’re talking about. Can boys have long hair? Yes. Can girls have short hair? Yes. Can a girl wear pants? Sure. Can a boy wear skirts? Sounds great. 

A child who has had an ongoing situation where they express that they are trans for an extended period of time should see a therapist – one who you have researched and know is open to such things. A professional can help you decide the correct age at which to take certain steps. However, the next step is neither hormones nor surgery. A lot of people who aren’t familiar with any trans kids don’t realize that they can take hormone blockers to prevent puberty. This way, if they chosoe to commit to their trans identity, they can safely transition to hormone therapy when they’re a little older, or, if they decide they are in fact cisgender, the effects of blockers are completely reversible and going off of them will result in the child going through puberty. 

Also, I don’t get all the kerfluffle about names. My brother decided his name was Jake, not Jacob, at a pretty young age and nobody pulled him aside and told him he was too young to decide what his name was. So I think that that’s rather silly.

What is most important to remember is that children thrive on love and support, and are incredibly impressionable. When the first message they receive from a parent is “my will is more important than your identity,” that is a contributing factor to shockingly high rates of suicide attempts in trans youth and teens. 

Post # 11
Member
660 posts
Busy bee

To avoid harm, when a kid tells you that they are lgbtq2+, at any age, you should believe them and provide whatever support they need. If it is a phase, then it will pass. It is harmful to tell a child that they are mistaken. 

I detest when people say that children are too young to be talking about their sexuality or gender. “Just let them be kids!” Well you know what happens when a kid tells their parents they are gay and the parent (and community) reaction is love and support? They go about their merry day being a kid and living life comfortably in their own skin. 

Everything changes when the parents aren’t supportive. 

Post # 12
Member
265 posts
Helper bee

I know someone who found their eleven year old ‘son’ hanging from a noose because they were so distressed by their gender identity. Thankfully their child survived and is now a flourishing young woman.

Waiting until teenage years to affirm a child is too late. Children with diverse gender identities can express extremely high levels of distress from an early age.

Post # 13
Member
2917 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2018

i think it depends on the situation but I don’t think most children know enough to make such a decision.

ETA when I was young my girl friend and I pretended to have sex, it creeps me out thinking about it now but that experience when I was ten years old has nothing to do with me as an adult. Kids are curious, they ask questions, they want to learn, had I have told my mom that in that moment I wanted to explore witha woman would mean I’m a lesbian? No. 

Post # 14
Member
1330 posts
Bumble bee

I knew I was gay as early as I could remember, I had my first crush on a girl when I was 7. However, I grew up in the UK in the 90’s and it was extremely apparent to me back then that gay=bad and it’s not something you want to be. So as a result I spent 23 years of my life trying to force myself to be someone I wasn’t, ashamed of who I really was and making myself do things sexually I didn’t want to do. As a result I almost had a mental breakdown, was suicidal and still suffer from severe anxiety today. I came out to my mum when I was 24 and her reaction was disappointment and disgust. We were extremely close, but it’s ruined our relationship. She’s since apologised, but a part of me can’t forgive her behaviour and knows deep down she’s “accepted” it, but still wishes I wasn’t gay. 

So to any parents out there, if your child tells you they’re gay/bi/trans etc. at whatever age. Then believe them and give them love and support, because that’s all they want. If it’s a phase then leave them to figure that out, don’t try to push your own ideas of what they “should or shouldn’t be” onto them, because the damage you do can’t always be undone. 

Post # 15
Member
796 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2016

I was six when my mother said “you don’t like girls do you” to me. It made it abundantly clear that the correct answer was no. She would get very offended when I was mistaken for a boy and there were infinite fights to get me into dresses. When I was old enough to drive and got myself a very short haircut, she cried and told me I wasn’t a real girl. What you do and say around your child from a very young age makes a huge impact! It matters.

I wouldn’t take my child to a therapist for sexuality unless they seemed upset by it or wanted therapy. For gender identity, you can take them at any age. You will get a consult/evaluation and a professional opinion that hopefully respects your child. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s too young, you will get professional input and guidance. Yes, children can change their minds all the time…so can adults. It can’t hurt to respect them and take them seriously. If you are open to one thing they say, it’ll make it easier for them to continue to be open with you and let you know if they are changing their minds.

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