I have two sons in their early to mid teens. Their father and I divorced nine years ago and I haven’t remarried. We live in a small, fairly liberal city and I run my own business as an HR consultant. My sons are 11 and 13 respectively. Since a very young age, my younger son let it be known that he felt he was really a girl and he’d been born in the wrong body. He insisted we call him Ella, was more comfortable in female clothing, liked keeping his hair long and hung around more with girls than boys. But it wasn’t till this year, when he turned eleven that he announced he wanted to live completely as a girl and have hormone therapy that would block male puberty and allow him to grow breasts. I was ok with his decision, and told him I’d help with electrolysis for the removal of facial and body hair. I’d have been ok with him taking hormones, too (the shots are $1000 a month) if his father hadn’t interfered. And that’s the problem. Ella’s dad refuses to accept him as female. He won’t call Ella by her chosen name and won’t accept the notion that she feels more comfortable as a girl. He won’t even use the right pronouns with Ella so she never wants to go visit him at his house. At school, Ella’s teachers accept who she is and are extremely supportive. It’s just her dad who’s so difficult, and at this point I fear she is being damaged by his attitude. I frankly don’t know what to do. Ella’s dad insists she needs to be an adult before she presents as female, or takes steps to become female, and that an eleven-year-old just doesn’t know enough about life to make permanent decisions. Please help.
Mother of a Transsexual Child
Dear Mother of a Transsexual Child,
You cannot make life easier for your child, who has chosen a brave and difficult path due to what some docs call “gender identity disorder.” You can’t force Ella’s father to accept her. That, for her, will just be the first disappointment of many. Frankly, these kids are pioneers in a whole new territory and one can expect a lot of sacrificial lambs along the way. From the little bit of research I’ve done, it seems that hormone therapy is reversible should the child change her mind and that early use helps these children form better long term adjustments since they can pass as the opposite sex from adolescence on. Obviously this is a help with emotional challenges around the issue. On the other hand, prolonged use of hormones has its own medical risks. So… a thorny subject. I suggest you consult your lawyer regarding possible legal issues about your child having hormone therapy before turning eighteen in light of his father’s extreme disapproval. You’d have to be prepared to cough up the bucks on your own, as I’m sure you’re aware, and to face pretty harsh criticism. I wish you luck. If it were me, I’d err on the side of making my child’s life more comfortable. These are interesting times we live in.
REACTIONS TO SCARED OF THE NEIGHBOR’S SON
This boy sounds like a walking time bomb. I’ll bet he has a whole arsenal of guns hidden away in that bedroom of his. You should not only put his parents on notice, but report him to the FBI. It’s angry sullen kids like this that cause trouble. We don’t want another school shooting, so do the right thing and call the cops.
Robert R., Pittsburgh
If it were me, I’d move. Who needs all that tension nextdoor? You can get in touch with the authorities, but I’m sure they won’t do anything — look what happened with that kid in Florida. The cops had him on their radar and didn’t do a goddamn thing about it, so we lost all those beautiful kids. I don’t know what’s happening in our country that we have so many screwed up young people. For sure, the AR-15 assault rifles have got to go. My hunch is if you fire the kid and stay where you are, he’ll come after you. Good luck.
Sylvia H, Portland, OR