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Gender confusion and typical kid behavior

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Mack9512 posted 5/22/2013 06:48 AM

Good morning. Any input or sage advice would be greatly appreciated.

My DD is 'gender confused', which really is not the correct terminology but it fits how she feels. She wants to be a boy...she hasn't said any of the trigger words that her Dr and IC have told us to be on the lookout for...but she does talk about having the surgery when she is older. She is 7.

My DD is going through all of the typical childhood behaviors and explorations. Over the course of 1st grade, she has routinely asked other girls in her class to be her girlfriend. 9 times out of 10 they "date" for a couple of days then move on. No biggie.

Last night I get a call from her latest gf's mother saying that my DD kissed her DD and it made her DD uncomfortable. Now this mother loves my DD and felt terrible about calling me about this but her DD said the word "uncomfortable". (I truly believe that the other mother did not make this call because of my DDís gender.) Anyway, I told her that I would talk to DD and I did. She was confused as to why her friend said she was uncomfortable because my DD claimed to have asked permission to kiss her beforehand and she said yes. I told her that everybody has things that make them uncomfortable and for her friend it is kissing and that sometimes, we do not realize something makes us uncomfortable until after it happens. She seemed to understand this.

I also told her that we, my H and I, believe that she is too young to be kissing anybody other than family and that maybe she should wait until she gets older to start kissing her gf/bf. She asked me when she would know that it is okay to kiss someone and I said that she would know in her heart and gut that it is the right thing to do. My DD said she understood and whatnot but I really looked at her and she was tearing up and got this look of pure devastation on her face. It wasn't until after our talk that I realized that her look of devastation and the tears were because, in her head, the girl that she "loves" doesn't love her back and that she thinks the reason is because she isn't a boy. It almost brought me to my knees. Our talk affected my DD so much that for the rest of the night all she wanted to do was snuggle up with me. She also kept on referring to herself as a girl even though normally she would call herself a boy.

DD is our only child and she has a pure and loving heart. In her young life, she has already had to deal with prejudice, hate and ignorance because some people canít or refuse to see past the fact that she wants to be a boy. My H and I have, so far, been able to shield her through the potential mind field of her life but we are confused how to help her through this basic childhood rite of passage without making her feel like her Ďgenderí is the problem. Has anyone else had to deal with anything like this?

idiot85 posted 5/22/2013 07:09 AM

I just wanted to say, my sister used to always say "when I'm a man" all the time growing up because we now think that somewhere deep down she thought she needed to be a boy to have a gf so would pretend as a kid to be a boy.

She was always alright though and as she got older her views changed- through school she had a couple of bfs but nothing serious.

She came out when she was 19 but isn't even a tomboy these days- both her and her gf of 4 years are normal girls.

I know I don't have advice but I thought a happy ending story might help.

Also, your DD sounds adorable- I never asked permission at her age!

Mack9512 posted 5/22/2013 07:53 AM

Thanks 85.

My H and I will be happy if DD turns out to be a happy, well-adjusted adult. That's all that matters to us. (Secretly we both think that eventually she will come to us and say that she is bisexual, because she likes boys as well but because she sees herself as a boy she thinks she shouldn't like boys.)

In all honesty, my H and I are terrified that we will do or say something that will confuse her even more; or even worse, hurt her so deeply that she will have a hard time overcoming the hurt. Ugh...

metamorphisis posted 5/22/2013 08:01 AM

I have very little experience with this but nothing but compassion for your dd. It must be difficult and confusing for you all and I applaud your parenting.

I agree in telling her she's too young for kissing and would almost suggest taking the whole boyfriend/girlfriend issue off the table. NOT because of gender issues but simply because of age. Ds had a very alpha little girl latch on to him and tell him they were going to be boyfriend and girlfriend in kindergarten. Cute right?
Well until she bossed him around the play yard every single day, was angry at him all the time for some perceived slight and he was always worried about why he had upset her. She was mimicking some much older and drama filled behaviour and he was clueless and wanted to play soccer .
I think in the end of Grade 1 or so I just finally said "Please tell *Sally* that you aren't allowed to have a girlfriend. That your mommy says you can have very good friends but that boyfriends/girlfriends are for grown ups". The relief from my son was palpable. Of course she refused to speak to him for the rest of the year and uninvited him to her birthday party . It cooled off though and now he is 9 and happily not even remotely interested in that stuff.
Of course it's up to you, but maybe if it's just not allowed right now she'll have a little more time to mature and understand it all? I hope that made sense.

idiot85 posted 5/22/2013 08:04 AM

My Mum and Dad always just supported my sister as she grew- my Mum used to tell us that love is the only thing that really matters.

She might end up having a boyfriend/husband when she's grown- it's difficult to know when so young. I don't think you could confuse her, she seems to be a bright little thing from what you've said

I think trying to make her understand that everything is OK might be helpful- that none of it really matters because, well it doesn't really does it! We only have one life, it's not a rehearsal so we may as well live it

[This message edited by idiot85 at 8:06 AM, May 22nd (Wednesday)]

metamorphisis posted 5/22/2013 08:06 AM

that none of it really matters because, well it doesn't really does it!

Couldn't agree more.

JanaGreen posted 5/22/2013 08:09 AM

I have very little experience with this but nothing but compassion for your dd. It must be difficult and confusing for you all and I applaud your parenting.

All of this. ((HUGS)) she is lucky to have you as parents!

cmego posted 5/22/2013 08:20 AM

Having ended up marrying a man who cheated the entire marriage on me with men....I think you are handling it great.

My exH knew he was disappointing his parents/step parents/grandparents by being gay...and I think exhibited signs early he was bi/gay. He told me after D-day that one of his step Dad's (there were multiple) called him a fag**t when he was little. He was teased all through middle school and highschool, then came home to being called names.

So, he spent most of his youth questioning himself, didn't WANT to be gay, hiding from himself and everyone around him...married me because he "thought his question had been answered", and then promptly cheated on me for 17 years with men.

(I do think he is bi because we had a normal sex life. )

BUT, it was how his family treated him that, in HIS head, forced him deep into the closet. He hurt so many people trying to find his way out, mostly me.

I kinda watch my kids to see if they exhibit any homosexual tendencies, but I'm not too worried about it. If they are, they are, and I will support them. What IS confusing for them.... is not understanding why my BFF is not my "girlfriend". It is confusing, but as long as you have open communication and acceptance...she will turn out great.

HFSSC posted 5/22/2013 08:49 AM

So interesting that you would post this right now. A couple of weeks ago, JM and I chaperoned a lock in at our church. There were several kids invited by our youth group members that are not regular attenders at our church, which is a very small Southern Baptist church.

Halfway through the day on Saturday, we discovered through HS girl drama and gossip that one of the boys was actually physically a girl. The kids were setting up "homeless cities" of cardboard boxes where they were planning to sleep on Saturday night, and because we are Southern Baptists with teenagers, we had a designated camp for each gender. "Tony" was planning to share a box/sleeping bag with "Kayla". No one seemed to be sure if "Tony" and "Kayla" were a couple or were just friends, but it was clear from their behavior that "Tony" has very strong feelings for "Kayla." To add to the confusion, when we pulled the permission slips in order to perhaps include the parents in the discussion, it was discovered that "Tony"s mother actually signed the permission slip for "Tonya". We finally took both kids separately and discussed everything privately. Came to find out that Tony's parents are aware of his transgender state and are supportive/on board with his decision to live as a male.

Which is great, except for the fact that at this point, what we had was a permission slip for a girl named Tonya. Tony didn't want to camp with the boys, but we were also uncomfortable with Tony and Kayla sleeping together. Overwhelmingly, we did not want either of them to feel judged or condemned or ridiculed. To make matters worse, several of our teenage girls were being, to be frank, little bitches about the whole thing. I took them aside privately and told them each that I held them to a higher standard because they were members of our church and representatives of our congregation as well as God. And that if I heard one more sigh/whisper/gripe or saw one more eye roll, that they were going home.

I feel for Tony and for his parents. But so much of the drama could have been avoided if the mother had just called one of us chaperones (whose phone numbers were listed on the permission slip) and given us a heads up.

My point in all this is just to say that your road is going to be as difficult as your DD's. And as you support her through life, remember that you will face all sorts of responses, but there are situations where you as the parent giving some guidance to the adults in charge of activities may help to avoid unnecessary drama and hurt.

Both of the kids have actually participated in more activities with our youth, so I feel good that we were able to respond with love. I just hate that it was difficult at the time.

idiot85 posted 5/22/2013 09:00 AM

I don't want to t/j but speaking of church reminded me, my sister went to our Priest (we're Catholic) to tell him she was Gay and she got really upset, she finally spat it out and our (amazing) parish priest went "oh God! Don't ever do that again, I wondered what you were going to say you'd done!!!" She said he clutched his chest! "Stop worrying, we're in London, it's 2009!! You had me worried then!! Are you OK? Good! I'm not- I thought you'd killed somebody or something!" End t/j

I think you sound on top of this Mack9512 so you shouldn't worry.

Grace and Flowers posted 5/22/2013 09:39 AM

I highlys suggest that you go to a local PFLAG meeting. In my group, we have TWO parents of kids under 12 who are transgender. They are both seeing great doctors with their kids, and are even starting hormone therapy to stop puberty. Well, I mean, they are making sure the girls don't develop breasts, etc.

Of course, they've only done this after MUCH counseling, for them and their kids, and seeing specialists in childhood transgender issues. There is MUCH to be done before a doc will consider hormone therapy as a child nears puberty.

I'm not saying you're anywhere NEAR something like that. But you might find some great local advice by attending a PFLAG meeting. And call around. The PFLAG group closest to you may not have anyone there dealing with the some issues. But another group nearby may have.

Even if you don't find other local parents dealing with issues exactly like yours, PFLAG is a great resource. And you meet some pretty great people.

Good luck!

I think I can posted 5/22/2013 11:03 AM

I find your responses to your daughter so thoughtful and appropriate. I think you have good instincts.

Unfortunately (regardless of gender/sexuality) our children are going to be hurt as they go through life--we all are. It is SO incredibly difficult to see and not be able to FIX!


purplejacket4 posted 5/22/2013 14:36 PM

I'm actually a physician who has about ten patients that I'm helping transition (currently I have three MTF and seven FTM). I'll tell you that if someone really has Gender Dysphoria (the new DSM 5 diagnosis of what was called Gender Identity Disorder in the past) it is much better to start treating them medically BEFORE puberity.

However, I would encourage you to have her see a child psychologist with experience in that area first.

I, myself, had some problems with this as a child. I remember crying while playing Milton Bradley's Game of Life when they made put the damn pink peg into the car instead of the blue peg. I DID NOT want to grow up to be a wife and a mother. However, when I was older and understood that I didn't have to adhere to "Gender norms" of getting married to a man, being a house wife (I grew up in the 70s) and birthing babies I was relieved. I figured out it wasn't my gender and body parts that were the problem it was my interpretation of what I though I was SUPPOSED to do with them.

I'm now a perfectly well adjusted (well as much as possible I guess ) gay woman who is perfectly comfortable as a woman. All this is to just make sure it is truly the gender and not just the gender "role" that DD has a problem with.

woundedwidow posted 5/22/2013 17:02 PM

My stepdaughter, who now lives as a man (she has not had gender reassignment surgery however), went through this when she was about 14. At 10 she was my flower girl when I married her father; then at 14 she was dating girls. I'm not really certain that she really experienced genuine gender identity disorder, because she was so intensely influenced by her mother, my late H's ex-wife, who transitioned during SD's puberty from a slutty-looking woman to a lesbian to a middle-aged looking outwardly transgendered man. Ex-wife even had a double mastectomy (but again, no gender reassignment surgery, just massive doses of testosterone). I think the timing and the militant exposure to the LGBT movement deeply influenced my stepdaughter towards her choice - I think otherwise she would just be a "butch" lesbian (sorry if that's a non-PC term). But going the outwardly transgender route was the only way to possibly please her mother, who never accomplished anything else significant in her life, except marrying my H - and that didn't last. My H REALLY hated when his daughter transitioned, but she and I kept in touch - she's a cool person and very bright and talented.

Mack9512 posted 5/23/2013 08:27 AM

Thank you everyone for your concern, suggestions and props!

My H and I have decided to sit DD down this weekend and tell her that she is not allowed to "date" until she is older. We will obviously stress that we love her and do not care who she dates as long as they do not do drugs nor have active warrants against them.

My DD's now ex-gf (they decided to break up be remain friends ) was over last night and the only weird thing was that my DD did not want to play up in her room. Instead they played Lego's in the sunroom. All was well.

Now if I can just get her to stop obsessing over tornadoes....

authenticnow posted 5/24/2013 05:51 AM

I find your responses to your daughter so thoughtful and appropriate. I think you have good instincts.


And, hugs (((Mack and DD)))

brokenapart posted 5/25/2013 21:27 PM

I think the issue really is that your child understand that 7 is too young to be dating, no matter if a boy or girl.. and I think you've handled that well.

A friend just posted this the other day - you may want to reach out to this mom..

heartbroken_kk posted 5/27/2013 23:18 PM

I have always been a "tomboy". I am not attracted to women in any way, but I am not "girly" and am very competent in many "manly" activities. I remember being very frustrated with what I perceived to be rules or expectations for girls and being very determined to chart my own course.

I dont have a gender identity issue, I know I am a woman in a woman's body and I'm attracted to men. I'm just not good at being a girl and I dont really enjoy the girly stuff. I do boy stuff, and I like it that way. I also like to hang out with boys and do stuff together.

There are so many directions people can take with their identity. I hope your DD finds peace within herself and loves herself and works to become exactly who she is supposed to be, wherever that falls on the spectrum.

solus sto posted 5/28/2013 10:57 AM

I find your responses to your daughter so thoughtful and appropriate. I think you have good instincts.
I agree.

I think purplejacket has very valuable advice regarding gender dysphoria v. gender role and expectations associated with it.

As your daughter grows, you can help her understand that she can choose her OWN path; she does not have to adhere to socially-prescribed roles.

Really, I think you'd do this for your child, regardless. That you are sensitive to her sexuality is testament to your sensitivity to her well-being.

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