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My son wants to be a girl
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I am new here, so forgive me if I blunder once in a while. My son is 9 yrs old and a few weeks ago, I caught him putting on my daughters underwear and bras. We talked about it, and he said it was just because he wanted to be the little sister that his sister had always wanted. Once he knew she wanted him the way he was, he said he didn't need to do that anymore. Well, the other day, I walked into the bathroom and he was into the makeup. He said he liked it, but that was all he said about it. Later on that day, he said that he really liked to put on bras and underwear, a pair of his sisters old jeans and shirt and dress up like her. He also put some small stuffed toys in the bra to make them look like breasts. Now, I accept my son no matter what he does, looks like, loves, or how he dresses. I just want to find out if this is really a phase, or if he truly has the desire to be a girl. I don't want to hurt him as I know his father will abandon him once he finds out about this. Or worse, berate his son and make him feel worthless, while keeping him around. I don't have any experience with this and don't know what to do. I would appreciate any advice, suggestions or help that anyone who has been there has to offer. thanks.
Posted on 09/25/07, 02:27 pm
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Reply #1 - 09/26/07  8:34pm
" Dear "Good Mom",

You really are a great mom. I just wanted to say that first. I'm 51 now and a male-to-female transsexual in transition now for about 3+ years. I remember when I was your son's age and I did the same kinds of things. Does that mean your son really wants to be a girl? There doesn't seem to be enough data to answer that question yet. He may be "experimenting" and identifying with his sister that he loves. He may be fantasizing about being a girl because he somehow sees his sister and her supposed "advantages" and he wants to emulate her. It's too soon I think to know if he may just be a "cross-dresser" who enjoys wearing cross-gender clothing but who is going to be just fine with his sexual identity.

What I suggest is that you carve out some special time to talk together, maybe a walk in a park or someplace private, and tell your son that you would like to be his ally about this, not because you are worried about him or think there's something terribly wrong with him, but because you love him and want to be sure you're doing all you can as his parent and adult ally to help him be what he is best for him. Part of your "pact" you may make together is that you want to protect his privacy about this issue. Father rarely take it well when they find out their son has these desires. So, you might say that "to protect you, I think it would be wise that if you want to "experiment" then it would be better to tell me first and let me help you protect your privacy, because you may decide after experiementing that this isn't really how you want to be all the time; that it is just a once in a while thing like Halloween...that it's just sort of fun. Actually, there are adults who do the same thing "just for fun" and it doesn't affect their marriages or their work life. Make this pact, then see what happens for the next couple years. Observe his play behaviors, who he prefers being with, how he prefers to play. And have your "private chats" from time to time to ask him if he's happy just being himself. Don't suggest changing sex, just give him a "safe" ally to talk to (because most of us were terrified of saying to our parent we felt "wrong" as a boy or girl and wished with all our hearts we had been born the other way. If he really has an issue that needs to be addressed medically, it should hit the fan at puberty. If he knows you are an ally, he may feel more comfortable to tell you, "Mom....I'm changing and I feel wrong. This isn't the body I want." At that point you need to see a psychotherapist and discuss your options. A therapist would assess his needs and may refer him to an endocrinologist. Early transitioners usually start with anti-androgens to prevent the masculinizing effects of testosterone through the rest of High School. Transitioning in High School would be hell. But, when he hits college, that's about the right time where he might start on estrogen. If his body has not been androgenized, a young body will change fairly effectively. Transition takes about 4 years, so by graduation your son would be your daughter, at least in appearance. All that would be left is Gender Reassignment Surgery. I know of a number of early transitioners who lead happy lives, several who have gotten married. They may not be able to have children naturally, but they can adopt. And frankly...we don't know what your son's sexuality will be...he might end up liking girls, like me.

The bottom line is to be his ally, protect his privacy from potentially damaging negativity during this very sensitive period, and allow him to emerge as he will. If your son indeed needs to transition, this may become a very very heated issue between yourself and your spouse. I suggest you talk to a gender therapist about that issue, or contact PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)...they also deal with transgender issues. They may have some helpful advice.

It's way too early, but if you need more information about what is involved in transition, etc., I'd be happy to provide links to websites. There's good info out there and lots of trash too.

Don't panic mom! Your son will be ok. Just remember he is a unique and complex person who obviously has a lot of energy, creativity, imagination, and probably intelligence. Give him a little elbow room in a safe place and time. Time will reveal things. It won't be "too late" to transition in his twenties. He will be the determiner of the urgency. If he isn't doing well in school, is distracted a lot, depressed, has angry outbursts sometimes, gets easily hurt when kidded about being "a guy"....that's when to take him to a professional for further evaluation. There's no sense in letting him suffer and not function well if a gender conflict is the root issue. But, there could be many many other reasons for this quirky behavior.

But, you might just be right. Moms know things. Mine did. She was not surprised when I finally "came out". I was always my mom's kid. I loved Dad and did things with him too. But, she and I were more connected. I played with the boys and did boy stuff, but somewhat reluctantly. I also had great interests in cooking, art, landscaping/gardening, and talking with my mother about life and issues. I was more intimidated by my dad, though he was a good father and spent quality time with me and my siblings. But, I didn't have the intimacy with him that I did with my mom.

I hope this helps.

Bren "
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Reply #2 - 09/26/07  9:09pm
" Hi Mom...

You may want to check out and subscribe to the TransKids mailing list. There you can connect with other parents of trans-kids. Also, you may want to search for support groups in your local area.

Also start seeking out a therapist. I was reluctant to go see one myself, but it does help. Finding one that is experienced in transsexual issues, but I found one that had experience with homosexual issues and she still gives me great advice.

Feel free to send me a private message if you would like and I can put you in touch with some parents of trans-kids as well.

Hang in there - you are a wonderful mother and your son is a beautiful person. Support him in whatever he wants to do.

Take care,
Paige "
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Reply #3 - 09/27/07  4:09pm
" If i may play the Devil's Advocate and add a thought or two...

My personal experience is similar to your son's sans the sister, but at age 5-6 years. That means nothing, but i feel compelled to reply.

The bit of controversy i wish to add is this: "I wouldn't wish this condition on anyone, not even my worst enemy." I say this because gender is not a destination for the rest of the world, but for those who have to make this journey and accept walking this path... many do not, and it is there a myriad of issue develop.

Those of us who are older know well the stigma attached to us and degree and lengths we've had to go to- maybe it will be lessened somehow for those after us and even more so for your son if that is the case.

The same stigma that was applied to us is a label in oversimplified terms. And many of us have learned to adjust to that label and find personal strength in it that has allowed us to overcome of personal obstacles related to this stigma. Others fail and endure grief and sorrow through use of those labels.

Could it be, if even in the slightest sense that the world around us has changed to accept a more broad spectrum of gender expression and difference? I say so, but reading the words of those here would say differently. Why that is could be for many reasons and it may be impractical for you to conduct a lifetime study of how to react and what to tell your son next week.

What i want to say is this- Beyond the obligatory comment on seeing a "Gender Specialist" and namely one for children if one is near you, nothing is etched in stone. Socially in adolescent behavior his behavior will draw attention to him, but work around are possible. He may even choose another direction in the future for his energies, and then again maybe not.

It would be my opinion to continue with support and balanced choices because after all the world really is a gender continuum- many women excel at positions previously reserved for males in my lifetime as well as men excelling in those vocations for women. There simply is no hard and fast female/ male rule.

Whatever the case, i think you would agree a way for him to grow and have a meaningful life with a decent income he is happy with is a priority above the daily desperation of gender identity, and now you are in the cat-bird seat to assure him of your love and acceptance of whatever path he takes...

-Marina "
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Reply #4 - 09/27/07  6:51pm
" BrenB,
Thank you so much for your response. My friends have all given the same advice, but you know how it is. When they haven't really been there, it is hard to know if they are on target or not. My mom is the one that I have to watch out for though. Her first response to me telling her this was to say he had some disorder. I cannot think that way. First, it implies that something is wrong with my son, and second, it implies that I agree there is something wrong with my son. Neither of those are true. I will do as you suggest and love and support him as best I can. I think he believes he can tell me anything as he has come to me with this. I just want to ensure that continues. Thank you again, to everyone who has responded. It has really put my mind at ease. "
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Reply #5 - 09/28/07  1:07am
" Dear neon,

I suggest you not talk to anyone else about this, other than professionals. And especially family members. Keep it between you and your son as best you can and you be his confidante. Wait and see. If this passes as other things become more important, then he doesn't have to deal with well-meaning but perhaps jaundiced viewpoints of him by those who have some impression that he is "different" or disordered. Hang in there! "
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Reply #6 - 09/29/07  11:27am
" BrenB,
I agree, I don't want to have well meaning, but misguided people judging my son. I only bring my mom up in the mix as for now, we have to live with her. My husband and I divorced about 2 years ago, and I am trying to finish school and make a life for myself and my son. Mom tends to overstep her bounds and sometimes doesn't remember that she has already raised her kids. If I wanted, or needed her advice, then I would ask for it. In the meantime, she needs to remember that I am the parent now, and my decisions regarding my son are just that.. my decisions. I hate having to stay here, but for now it is the only choice I have. I just didn't want her to judge him if he chooses to act on his desires and she happens to see it since we are in the same house. Boy, did I expect too much from her. Oh well, like you said. Be there for him and try my best to counter those negative opinions of others and allow him to confide in me whenever he can. I just want him to be a happy, confident, and secure person. Not matter what route he chooses in life. That should be the goal for all his family, but now I see that may not be the case. Well, thank you again for your and everyone elses support. "
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Reply #7 - 09/30/07  1:52pm
" BrenB,

Wonderful response! You are a diamond. "
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Reply #8 - 10/04/07  5:02pm
" The people I know who have faced hese gender issues and done all it takes to make it right in their hearts are the strongest most stable people i have ever met. I am humbled by what it takes to do a gender transition. And what makes it possible is to have one person in your life who loves you anyway. Be that for him/ her? Mom. let your son know you love him hrough every bump in the road. When he comes to you with more things youve never considered accept his words and advice him in ways only a mother can. One point I think we all need to consider is that the world has an already existing reality, and like it or not we must somehow find the wave we fit into. And also consider this. If your son decides he should have been a girl his Momma better have taught him things like tenacity and self worth. In the end your will still have a child that owns your heart. Either way. And so you both win no matter what happens. Just my opinion. And as Marina so eloquently stated, evolution is slowly blurring the gender lines anyway. So its all good. smile. Hold him close while he is young. "
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Reply #9 - 10/05/07  4:09pm
" I'm not sure how this works, im new to the site. I relate to your story with your son, it brings back a lot of memories, some very painful. I grew up doing the same things your son does at about the same age. I am a grown hetrosexual male. I am an occasional Crossdresser. I have/had no desire to have a sex change operation. or a Gay relationship, in fact i was maried for over 15 years, to a tomboy. My mom knew but did'nt say buch about my dressing habbits, my father on the other hand, did his best to 'beat' it out of me. Bottom line my father and I grew apart, while my Mom and I never mentioned it. Eventualy she passed away, but before she died, she called me her 3rd daughter. It was a good tearful moment. To me dressing allows me to express my creative side. So I feel good about it. I wish you well, and I suspect this will not change as time goes on, Just nerture a encourage your son. "
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Reply #10 - 11/12/07  4:55pm
" I haven't been on in a while, and things have calmed down somewhat. I have taken the advice of the wonderful people here and supported my son and am allowing him to express himself in his own way and allow his personality to emerge as it will. My biggest fear, and it is the same one that has been reiterated here, is that his father will at best disown my son for his desires. At worst, hurt him as so many others here have been. As a mother, I can't bear the thought of someone hurting my little boy, be it physical or emotional. But, I am learning to try and not borrow trouble. The future isn't here yet, and I will just enjoy the time I have with my son now. Regardless of what he chooses to wear. Thank you again so very much. It has put my mind very much at ease. "

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