Transgender Identity in children
An insight on how it feels to be different at a young age
Many of us have somewhat of an idea of how it feels to be different. Maybe we have been bullied early on in our lives or have had difficulty getting along with our peers. But have you ever wondered how it felt to be a child feeling shut out simply because you were born in the wrong body? To be told at a very young age that you should not exist and that your identity must be what you were assigned at birth.
Many of these issues are experienced by a growing number of trans-identified children in our society at present time. Many are confused and afraid of how they feel based on their gender identity. There have been studies that children as young as 3 years of age have started identifying as the gender opposite of what they were assigned at birth, but all of that quickly can become tarnished with shame and fear by the judgement of parents. Fear can become isolating to the true identity of that child.
At a young age, children can become very anxious and stressed with out being aware of these feelings. A child’s mind is innocent, curious and craves knowledge of the unknown. For a child, there is no bias on whether it is better to be a boy or a girl, they just simply feel and identify as to what they feel they are. A recent story covered was of a 3 year old in Berkeley, CA named Thomas who had a speech impediment and he signed to himself, “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.”
Regardless of what gender Thomas was assigned at birth, and that he was physically male, the toddler felt that he is a girl. Even being bullied in school and teased by his peers, he simply told them that he will always be a girl and that’s what he is. Such a strong and powerful statement coming form a child. Having to stand by what Thomas felt was the right gender he wanted to be identified as.
When children like Thomas insist that their gender identity is different from which they are assigned at birth, there becomes a disconnect between their sex (which is anatomy) and gender, which includes activities, roles, and behavior. Thomas’ parents have allowed her to live her life as a girl, raised her as a girl and has since been called Tammy. Tammy is now 11 years of age.
When children insist they are a different gender early on, for the parents there can be a lot of judgement and fear; it can send the family to a lot of confusion since transgenderism is clouded by a lot stigma, very misunderstood and are feared by many; This sends parents at a tough predicament for majority yearn for what is the best for their child. As a protective mechanism, parents at most times are forced to apply those same fears and judgements towards their children who they feel is doing the wrong thing and having the wrong ideas.
Gender identity falls under a very wide and complicated umbrella. There are over 50 different gender identities today in which people can identify and use. Many also confuse gender identity with sexual orientation which are two different things. Gender Identity is who we are and sexual orientation is who we want to have sex with. Simple as that. In Tammy’s case, a 3 year old will probably not want to have sex with anyone, so her gender identity is clearly driven by who she naturally is.
As a society we must be open to new and endless possibilities. In order to truly crush hatred and stigma, we must support our youth for they are the future of this world. Like Tammy’s parents, they seen their child’s future as who she truly wanted to be. Gender maybe a very complicated and scary subject, but that is only because of the fear our society has generated with labels in regards to gender identity and sexual orientation. We must extinguish that fear and have an open mind especially for our youth. Let us be supportive of the next generation and take the next step in acceptancing a third gender:TRANSGENDER.