Here’s a link to a most interesting and forthright question and answer session with the Mother of a five year old trans-boy appearing in the ‘Washington Post’ on May 21, 2012.
The original story is here.
I’d written previously about internalized-trans-phobia and noted that one reason why this happens is that “trans-folk have been … misunderstood and the object of derision”. The following is unfortunately a good example of this.
(This was taken at a June 27, 2011 press conference with Presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum)
…I was with a couple this weekend who live in Vermont, and they have a similar situation up in Vermont… and their second grader has to come home and deal with Transgender Children, who are talking about Transgender Issues in second grade. These are things that are going to have a profound impact on children… when children are going to be forced to be taught about all of these issues that come with the implementation of gay marriage…it’s going to have a devastating impact on our children. It’s going to have a devastating impact on families and it’s going to have a profound impact on religious liberties….
That’s one powerful little second-grader… destabilizing religion in America. (does this mean she doesn’t have to do her homework?)
Putting aside for a moment Senator Santorum’s obfuscation of the issues of Gay Marriage and Transgender Children, the Senator as a respected member of society, is transmitting with his words and even more with his tone, the idea that transgender children are ‘less than’, ‘other’ and objects worthy of derision and ridicule. He is incredulous that a “normal” second-grader would have to associate and learn about his or her gender variant class-mate.
I would say that the Senator gets to be the poster-child for hate this week and can now consider himself to be a contributor to trans-phobia.
Irwin Krieger, a Connecticut Psychotherapist and gender specialist has written a 75 page guide for parents of trans teens (2011, Genderwise Press, New Haven, CT. ISBN: 069201229X).
The book provides a good “lay of the land” for parents who have little information about what it means to have a transgender child. It includes a glossary of terms, a primer on gender and sexuality, and a fairly detailed roadmap for what to expect should the teen decide to transition.
It is particularly strong in articulating the tensions that can arise between an impatient teen and a cautious parent who is trying to “come up to speed”. Other helpful areas are sample letters to extended family members explaining the situation, thoughts on what to expect when a teen transitions at school and a discussion of the typical fears a parent may have.
There are few minor points with which I took issue – namely a tendency (not just here but in a good deal of transgender literature) to paint the (FTM) female to male transgender child’s experience as somehow “easier” and Krieger’s describing a teen’s coming out as gay as often being a “transitional identity” to what may later be a “straight” identity. This may overlook the strong “queer” identity that many young people lay claim to before, during and even after transition.
These points aside, “Helping Your Transgender Teen” is sure to do just that for a good many parents who will be reassured and educated by this book.