SPINOFF: Appropriate age to express gender identity/sexuality?

posted 9 months ago in Parenting
Post # 16
77 posts
Worker bee

There are age-appropriate ways to talk about and respond to a kid’s identity. Many kids who later identify as transgender will make persistent declarative statements like “I’m not a girl, I’m a boy” as young as 2-3. I don’t think anyone would suggest that a child this age needs anything other than support and counselling. Up until puberty/early adolescence they wouldn’t be put on hormones or given surgery or anything because it’s not considered medically appropriate (for good reason).

If my kid wanted to express themselves differently I would support them (how they dress, what there interests are) and if they were distressed by their birth sex consistently and over a period of time I would take them to a counsellor.

By the time they are starting to go through puberty I think if they’ve been in counselling and identifying as a different gender for some time, conversations about hormones, etc would come naturally and I would support their decision.

As a previous poster mentioned, suicide is a huge problem within the transgender population and as many as half of people who identify as transgender will try to kill themselves, and denying your kid’s reality and not supporting their decision puts them at a higher risk of this, which I would never want. 

Post # 17
3259 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: January 2021

rockclimberbride :  the appropriate time is when they start asking questions or saying things that make you wonder what is happening in their heads. There is always an age-appropriate response that respects their identity and process. Like, a friend of mine apparently made an off-hand comment to his Dad when he was like 5 that he wanted to marry his best friend (a boy) when he grew up. His Dad took that opportunity to very simply validate that option by saying something along the lines of “oh! He’s a very nice boy”. It was such a simple thing, but 15 years later when he decided to come out to his family and friends it was so much easier because that one little comment as a small child gave him the confidence to assume his parents would be supportive. And they were. The funny thing is, when he came out he reminded his Dad of that conversation but his Dad had absolutely not recollection of it at all! Such a small thing that meant nothing to his Dad meant everything to him.

Post # 18
4494 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Disclaimer – Not a parent (yet).

I think for expression, any age is fine. If I have a young child who wants to express themselves in appearance-based ways that are traditionally reserved for the other gender (hair length, clothing choices, etc.), I see no problem with that. If they express preference for a different pronoun or name, I don’t see that as harmful. I think having a safe space to explore or “try on” different identities will make a more confident and open-minded kid in the end.

If the expression continued into puberty and the child seemed confused or distressed at all, I’d look into therapy, as that can be a rough time for anyone. Hormone treatment, though, would wait until their teens, at least, and would need to be agreed upon by a medical doctor, psychologist, and any other professionals involved. 

Post # 19
217 posts
Helper bee

A young family member at 7ish was telling everyone he was gay for a while. Among the adults we wondered if it was something that would stick or a label he was trying on, but everyone told him “We’ll love whoever you bring home one day as long as they’re a good person and treat you with respect.” It was super casual for him and he never showed discomfort telling anyone. He’s 9 now and hasn’t mentioned it since, but he definitely hasn’t shown interest in girls either, which is pretty normal for his age. But because of that experience I like to believe that if he does grow up and discover that he’s gay he’ll never have to fear anything from his family because we accepted it way back when. We literally lost nothing by being kind, so why not?

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