The word ‘Transgender’ has been very much in the forefront of our news over the past few years hasn’t it – however, many of us know very little about it and find it hard to understand when a teen comes out with “ Mum, I’m not happy as a girl I want to be a boy!” (or vice versa).
Gender variance basically refers to a person’s gender at birth (assigned gender) not matching up with the gender they feel they should be (affirmed gender)
Teenagers or even younger children, who are transgender, feel very strongly that they should be the opposite gender, they may at first just be happy to dress as the other gender but this very often leads to them wanting to change their bodies as well.
What is Gender Dysphoria?
Gender Dysphoria is when a person feels so distressed living under their assigned gender, that they have either had suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide and sadly, some have even been successful. These youngsters are obviously vulnerable to bullying and rejection and even when the parents and immediate family members are supportive, it can be extremely hard for all concerned.
One boy whom I have been treating in my clinic in London told me: “ I told my family that I wanted to be called by my new male name and referred to as’ he or him’ but they kept going back to ‘she or her’ and it made me so angry and depressed – they didn’t get how strongly I felt about it!”
What is Gender Expression?
The way a person expresses their gender identity is known as ‘Gender Expression’. It is how a person outwardly shows their gender identity – it includes physical expressions such as name and pronoun choice. It’s a normal part of a child’s development to “pretend” to be a boy or a girl – they will sometimes dress up as the opposite sex, or boys may play with cars or girls with cars and trains! But others stay neutral – they play with all toys, wear all different clothes and don’t mind having long or short hair.
One of my Client’s Story:
Sarah came to me in a dreadful state, around three years ago. She said: “Please help me I am in a terrible state. My 14-year-old daughter says she feels that she is in the wrong body and is insisting on binding her breasts, cutting her hair short, and being called ‘he and him’. Every month when she gets her period she screams and shouts and gets so angry and absolutely hates it – (I know all us women do, but this is real uncontrollable disgust!) I don’t know what to do, how to react, how to cope with this!!”
Sarah was going through the same as hundreds and thousands of parents all around the world. She had had a shock, this is something parents aren’t taught how to cope with (are we as parents ever taught how to cope with anything?) so I made a few suggestions.
- To stay calm and just listen to her daughter over the next week or so without being judgmental or making any suggestions to her.
- To tell her daughter that she loves her and will love her unconditionally, whatever the outcome.
- To ask her if she would like to have a chat with a therapist to perhaps make things very clear in her mind before she goes ahead with anything.
We did some hypnotherapy to relax Sarah and take away some of the stress and tension she was experiencing so that she could cope with her daughter in a calm and supportive way.
Sarah did what I suggested, and the family treated the girl as a boy – using the new name, and “he and him” etc. She came to me regularly for hypnotherapy to keep her anxiety and stress at bay and managed to deal with the situation extremely well. At sixteen, her daughter commenced therapy with a transgender psychologist and now at the age of 17 and a half, they are looking into going ahead with full sex-change surgery. Some teenagers, however, don’t feel the need to go that far and they are happy just to dress as the opposite gender and be called by the appropriate names etc. It’s a matter of finding out exactly what the teen needs, see what their goals are and their needs and just addresses those.
However, for both the individual and the parents and siblings, transitioning incorporates a whole lot of decisions and challenges so the whole family will need a lot of support.
Sarah concluded: Once the whole family were on board with what was going on with my daughter, everything was much easier. My daughter was like a different person once she realised we weren’t all going to be against her being a boy. Naturally, I had to grieve the “loss” of my daughter, and that was hard at times, but Elaine helped with hypnotherapy and relaxation techniques and I was fine. Now I have a son, with whom I have a great relationship!”
- Sarah coped with everything really well, however some parents cannot accept that their daughter wants to be a boy, or their son wants to be a girl, and this can lead to the child or teenager becoming so distraught and depressed that they become suicidal.
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death amongst adolescents,
- The last thing any of us want is for our child to be suffering from depression and getting to the point where ending his life seems to be his only choice. If YOU are faced with something like this – get some help yourself first – and find out all you need to know about transgender – remember, knowledge is power, so the more knowledge you have about the subject, the easier everything will be.
- If you know anyone who has a child who is struggling at the moment, do get them to contact me: www.focus-hypnotherapy.co.uk