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"Maybe you should never transition"

Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

On the Four Cisnormative Corridors of Denial Trans People face when Readiness to Transition is Voiced

Quote:
There has long been resistance against children who try to come out as trans — or more precisely, resistance against listening to a young trans person who voices that they’re a girl or a boy in spite of how they were (coercively) assigned at birth.

This resistance, however, is becoming more publicly discussed. We are seeing the emergence of a new variation on an old, cissexist theme: “No, it’s not a good time for you to transition. This is going to be so hard on us. Oh won’t you wait or reconsider this choice for us normal people?”

With this sentiment now being openly directed at trans people during their childhood — now that trans children have been magically made ‘real’ within the cisnormative imagination — it is finally possible now to reveal to cis people plainly that saying, “Maybe you shouldn’t transition right now,” to a trans person is a message which does occur at every age and at every turn.

Their subtext is plain and unambiguous to nearly every trans person: “Maybe you should never transition.”

Quote:
There are several variations on this overarching theme for obstructing a trans person’s agency to transition.

Each variation is dependent on which corridor of one’s life a trans person finds themselves once they are ready to assert their agency over their future and over their body. These corridors are developed from a cisnormative world view on when a body should develop and how a person should be socialized. These corridors are not necessarily the choosing of trans people, but trans people are nevertheless bound to those terms when cis people direct them on what they should not be doing for themselves.

“Corridor” — while impressing the idea that time is somehow synonymous with space (yes, there is spacetime, but let’s keep it simple) — offers a useful metaphor to visualize the one-way directionality of growing older and how messages directed at someone are discrete and distinct based on how old other people believe them to be.

For trans children, often under the age of 10, to now be publicly berated and to be told that their coming out and transition as children is abominable — the Girl Scouts in Louisiana comes to mind, as does a certain washroom case in Maine — it is now possible to recognize that there are four discrete corridors of cisnormative resistance toward trans people’s readiness to transition.

First corridor, pre-adolescence: “You don’t know any better. You’re too young to understand”;

Second corridor, during adolescence: “It’s a confusing time. Wait until after puberty’s done”;

Third corridor, late development: “You should wait until you’re totally sure. You’ll never pass”; and

Final corridor, maturation: “You’re having a mid-life crisis. What about your kids, spouse, and career?”


Comments

NuclearJeff
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Joined: Feb 15 2011

I'm not against the transgenered community... or anything like that.  But I do like to spark discussion so I'll say this for the sake of making this into a discussion.

We don't allow children under 18 to smoke, vote, drink, get a tattoo or do a plethora of other things, because we believe that before that age, children are not capable (or at least unwilling) to consider all aspects of their decision.  It is up to parents to try to decide what is best for their children, until such a time that those children can capably make that decision on their own.  Sometimes parents will get it wrong, or handle the situation poorly.  That can't be helped, we're only human.  But that shouldn't alter the idea that children need to develop mentally and emotionally before they can properly make life decisions.

Remember, this is strictly to spark discussion.  No hate intended.


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Hi NuclearJeff,

You're writing in the LGBT forum, which means that all discussion takes place from a pro-LGBT point of view. That means that incendiary posts meant to "spark discussion" are not welcome. Please respect the mandate of the site, and of this forum in particular. Thanks.


NuclearJeff
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Joined: Feb 15 2011

Sorry, I thought a forum was for discussion.


6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

I completely understand the concern NuclearJeff is voicing,

From the perspective of someone who is caring for a young person you certainly don't want to allow a young child to make an irrevocable mistake. And it is doubly concerning if it is in regards to  something you may not understand, or which you might question whether it is real or not. 

On the other hand there is a big  difference between letting your kid smoke and drink, or get a face tattoo, and  listening to what your child says, dealing with it respectfully and accepting that whatever it is, that expression is REAL.

Not an expert myself, but I think this is more about not projecting your own fears and denial (the word is right up there at the top of the page), and dealing with it honestly, even if you don't understand.  I think the most important thing to do is to be loving and supportive.

And from the other side of things, many  children are very aware of their gender, orientation and sexuality, sometimes from a very young age. And from my experience the younger people are, the more open and honest they are about their feelings. 

At any age,  being told "you'll grow out of it" is essentially being told your feelings are invalid and unimportant. GIven the difficulty and resistance many people feel in coming out, why should a child want to lie or do it for a lark? 

 


Ken Burch
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Joined: Feb 26 2005

Just a casual observation...

Anytime somebody uses a phrase like "I'm not against_____... or anything like that.",  they ARE against _____, AND anything like that.

That's all I've got for this thread.


theleftyinvestor
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Joined: Jun 6 2008

There are standards of care for trans kids who are aware and ready at a young age - these standards are also still evolving. As the overjoyed gay uncle of an unborn child who will live with a queer family that includes at least one trans person in its sphere, and as the inlaw of a pediatric endocrinologist, I am quite interested in seeing how that evolution proceeds.

And as a scientist, I believe in evidence-based approaches. AFAIK, the medical goal of transition is a person whose quality of life is dramatically improved by the social and physical changes - in many cases, the difference between a life that isn't a life at all, and a life that feels right.

So I would think that best practices should be informed by positive outcomes. There are already kids who came out early, transitioned young and are happy (or unhappy) with how they were treated by caregivers and the medical establishment along the way... the evolution of standards of care should start with their voices.

Regarding the concern of an "irrevocable mistake" - the converse is that for the majority of trans people who underwent the full experience of puberty before having the opportunity to take ownership of their physical landscape, the irrevocable mistake already happened. If your chest and facial hair begins to sprout, if your brow bone becomes prominent and bold, if your hairline begins to recede early; if your chest takes a female shape, if your hips grow, if your menstrual cycle reminds you monthly what is going on internally... your future transition becomes a more involved process than it could have been.

My understanding is that for children who are clearly expressing an intent to transition before puberty has really struck, that hormone blockers are one common way to head off puberty for a period of up to a few years, giving the child a chance to gain a full understanding of the process and what it would mean to them. This seems to be a reasonable approach because the child gets to be in the driver's seat - puberty will create irrevocable changes, but you have the opportunity to choose which ones, and neither path is obstructed until that decision point.

I think if I were the parent of a trans child, I would just want to ensure that my child is empowered to truly explore everything that transition would mean to them, to trust their own judgment, and know in themselves what it takes to be sure they are making a decision from which they can walk boldly forward.


theleftyinvestor
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Joined: Jun 6 2008

AlfonsoDupont wrote:
troll troll troll

Considering that the human body does not typically subject itself to any hormonal symptoms of puberty until at least a 2-3 years after the age most children are for Grade 3, and therefore it would not be part of any reasonable standards of care to initiate any hormone therapy at that age... and the name Alfonso Dupont appears to be associated with online trolling... I'm calling BS/troll on this one.

Sigh.


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001

I agree, leftyinvestor, although I didn't realize that about the "Alfonso Dupont" handle.  I suspected it because he claims that they planned and signed their child up for surgery in nine months before grade 3, and that now their child has "budding breasts" and a penis.  In grade 3 (8 years old).  Whereas even adults are generally expected by medical professionals to live in their expressed gender for a year or two before having surgery.

I am cis, and no expert, but have been reading up on trans issues and transition recently in an attempt to become a more informed and supportive ally.  My understanding is that transition is different for everyone, and that cis people often focus solely on the genital surgery aspect, assuming that is the "completion" stage for all transitions, whereas there are trans people who don't even do the genital surgery.  Some simply do the hormone therapy and perhaps other surgery and leave the genitals alone.  And then, of course, some people do the genital surgery as well.  It all depends on each individual person's journey.

This is an interesting article on children and transition and the medical options available to them, and how the field is progressing.  (By the way, I find it really weird that they keep referring in this article to a MTF trans child as "he" in the article when it says she has been living as a girl for the past five years.)

Quote:

Whether to treat transgender children is a difficult decision to make. Not only must parents and doctors decide whether the child’s feelings are going to last and consider types of treatment and when to begin, parents must also bear the cost of treatment and the fact that they may be met with lack of family support or, at the very least, incomprehension from friends and family.

“[People] don’t understand why we as parents are doing this,” says Daniel’s mother, Stephanie Grant,* who’s written a “booklet” about her experiences titled The Agony of Nurturing the Spirit. “It’s not just because of the suicide rate. It’s one thing to have general reassignment surgery that costs $30,000 to $40,000. But testosterone is such a wicked hormone. … [Transgender] adults spend hundreds of dollars and hours getting rid of hair, muscle tissue, having one’s face removed because testosterone causes changes in jaw structure etc. To save our children from the many hours of surgery, we have an opportunity to help future adult transgenders to just need [genital] reassignment surgery, because what they go through is unbelievable. [But,] people don’t understand why we can’t wait.”

Yet Daniel is patient. “It’s not hard to wait a little bit,” he says – especially now that he’s been presenting and passing as a girl for 5 years, and has met some other transgender children through TransKids Purple Rainbow, an organization his mother co-founded that focuses on support, education and advocacy for transgender people and their families. TransKids Purple Rainbow is seeking federal funding to further the cause, because, “There’s no one funding research, and insurance doesn’t cover treatment,” Grant says.

Lack of insurance coverage is a major hurdle for parents of transgender children because Lupron Depot, the medical community’s blocker of choice for forestalling puberty in transgender kids, is not covered by insurance. Lupron Depot is also not approved by the Federal Drug Administration for use in treating transgender children; however, physicians prefer it because it’s effective yet reversible – if a child decides he or she does not want to transition, treatment is stopped and the child develops as he or she otherwise would have.

But Lupron Depot is expensive – it costs between $500 and $700 a month.

Consequently, many parents of transgender children are turning to doctors who go straight to “cross-sex” hormones to achieve transition. Cross-sex hormones cost much less than Lupron Depot – anywhere from $25 to $70 a month, but many of the changes are not reversible.

Once a decision to proceed with treatment has been reached, the question of when arises.

Dr. Marvin Belzer, an adolescent medicine specialist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, uses cross-sex hormones to treat transgender adolescents aged 12 and older.

“Those of us who are doing it feel there are benefits to doing it younger,” Dr. Belzer says. “Some of us feel that the best time is right before puberty.”

Dr. Belzer says that, except in Europe, he doesn’t know anyone in the field who will treat children younger than 12, although he adds, “That’s where the field is heading.”


6079_Smith_W
Online
Joined: Jun 10 2010

Yeah, I kind of raised my eyebrows at "grade 3", but didn't say anything.

Really, I think the OP is far less about the child in question and far more about the rest of the family and friends . There ARE experts involved in any process like this, so I am sure any legitimate caution will be there and the child, once in the right place, will get proper guidance.

There are plenty of parents who get all bent out of shape when their kids don't go to medical school, don't want to do their hair, or join the hockey team, or in any way express anything that is not like them. I can imagine this would be an exponentially greater freakout. 

I can imagine that anyone who is blindsided by something like this has their own difficult transition to make - without the benefit of knowing, feeling, and understanding that it is the right thing, and with all the baggage of a caregiver second-guessing responsibility.

For that reason, I don't assume someone is "against" anything simply because he expresses something in a way I find awkward or which some might find offensive. I think the whole point of this question is to not react in a black and white way and from a position of misunderstanding. 

And really, I think one doesn't need to be an expert in anything to realize that if a parent or family member remembers to put love and acceptanceahead of fear and denial, it is a far more important support to someone than any professional guidance.

 

 

 


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

AlphonsoDupont has been banned.

Thanks for the other posts in this thread.


6079_Smith_W
Online
Joined: Jun 10 2010

Yes. Good thread CF. 

And a good reminder that in many things, if you are waiting for the right time, you might be waiting until you are in a box.

 


theleftyinvestor
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Joined: Jun 6 2008

Out of curiosity I looked up whether leuprolide was covered by BC Pharmacare.

http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/pharmacare/sa/criteria/restricted/leuprolide...

For a diagnosis of "precocious puberty" it would be covered by special authority, but that is probably a stretch for a child who is going to have puberty at a "normal" time and is not manifesting early symptoms.

But I also notice there is a practicioner exemption for pediatric endocrinologists - meaning that if they prescribe the drug, no questions, PharmaCare will cover it. And in general, if you are going to induce changes to a child's hormones, a pediatric endocrinologist is exactly who you should be seeing. The question of actually finding a trans-positive PE is another story, but ideally they'd be the one making final decisions about dosage, risk and so forth.

The in-law I mentioned who is a PE works with a number of children who have intersex conditions (or also known as DSD) as well as other hormonal differences. Statistically there are certain likelihoods of how gender will develop for each condition, but there are still certain chances that they'll want to take the less probable path (which they may or may not consider to be transition). Again you don't want to do anything medically unnecessary that would constitute an "irrevocable mistake". I've heard some awful stories from adults who were deprived of the right to make their own physical choices. 


Red Tory Tea Girl
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Joined: Feb 15 2010

The idea that a cis puberty is fine but a trans puberty is an irrevocable decision that has lifelong consequences is, well, about as cissexist as it gets.

 

And Cisnormativity is a wonderful site.


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

I can't recall the writer of this observation, but she was referring to the homphobic narrative of gay men "recruiting" children into homosexuality and pointed out that children are probably as universally queer as they could be--and if anything, it's heterosexuals who "recruit" children for heteronormativity. If anything, RTTG, I'd say that that observation equally applies to cisnormativity, children and gender.


Red Tory Tea Girl
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Joined: Feb 15 2010

Very much so, and the two, if you look at the stats on aheterosexuality and transsexuality, tend to march hand in hand. When I was a closeted girl I convinced myself that because I liked sports, games, girls, that I must, therefore, be a boy, though others had an easier time reading the discord than I.

 

It's part of why I tend to view gender power relations with a bit more of a complex rubric than two legs good, three legs bad, as well when often what we construct as misogynistic is more accurately femmephobic, as Julia Serano pointed out in Whipping Girl.


theleftyinvestor
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Joined: Jun 6 2008

Red Tory Tea Girl wrote:

The idea that a cis puberty is fine but a trans puberty is an irrevocable decision that has lifelong consequences is, well, about as cissexist as it gets.

Is this in response to a specific post, or just a continuation of the conversation?

If a child is unambiguous about needing to change the course of puberty, or some time to work it out before proceeding, then yes, it makes sense to intervene.

I wonder if there are standards of care for trans kids with respect to preservation of reproductive possibilities. I know trans folk who preserved their options in a number of different ways, but who ten years earlier might never have thought that they'd even care about whether they could have a biological child.


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