One of two ways, either you let them show or you hide them with loose clothes. That is not a glib answer. It is what people do. It depends on your state of mind. Incidentally,
it is not unlike what many self conscious 12 year old girls go through as their breast begin to develop.
8b) I am 50 and disabled. I've read were TS people have been
injured by people that see us as less than human. So I have some concerns.
Many hate crimes against the transgendered are reported but in fact they are relatively rare. Of the 650 + clients I have worked with since 1978,
I have never had anyone report being mistreated by a stranger. Although there are some notable exceptions, most of the incidence where people have been seriously
hurt or even killed have had some thing to do with sexual encounters.
Simply follow the same rules of safe conduct that most genetic women follow and you should be all right. (see http://www.avitale.com/actsafely.htm)
8c). Besides some of the social problems that come with transitioning, what are some of the moral or spiritual issues that come up.
Rarely do I see anyone with religious concerns who has not already worked out their spiritual issues regarding transition with their spiritual leader.
However, if the individual has strong religious ties and is associated with a particular church, mosque or synagogue then there could be a problem. That is where a good therapist can help all parties to come to a workable solution.
Familial concerns are much more common. Most people who come to see me are in mid-life with familial obligations.
The idea of altering the family structure or even destroying it to save their life can lead to overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame and are much more common and problematical than spiritual issues.
In such a circumstance the therapist should go to great lengths to educate family members about the gender variant condition and make an effort to keep the family together.
I am happy to report that success in keeping the family together has increased dramatically in the last several years.
8d) What happens to those intensely dysphoric people who do not transition? How do they cope?
I contemplate never transitioning and thus enabling me to make that commitment to my wife and family.
How on earth can I do that and have a happy life without this persistent voice going around and around in my head?
When people wait until they are in mid life and have established a career and family before attending to their gender dysphoria the situation becomes almost
impossible to resolve without disrupting the lives of loved ones.
The sooner people with gender dysphoria understand that their condition is chronic, the easier the solution becomes.
Gender variant people can no more change their gender variant identity then those who fit the more common male/female gender binary.
I know all of that doesn't answer the question directly but there are certain truths in life that can not be denied. Being gender variant is one of them.
Of course, it is perfectly possible to be gender dysphoric and NOT transition. Gender dysphoria is not new.
There is evidence of it dating all the way back to the beginning of recorded history. Since there was no treatment for it then, gender dysphoric people did the best
they could to make their lives work and many societies accommodated them. (see http://www.avitale.com/historicalaccount.htm).
The only real solution is to make every effort possible to get family members to understand the seriousness of the problem.
Seeing a good family therapist that is knowledgeable in these matters is a good place to start.
I have also found that by referring couples to groups of other couples where there is a gender variant partner also helps.
8e) Statistics on the percentage of men who are dealing with gender issues range from 1% to 10%.
No one knows for sure, of course. How about women? Reading between the lines it appears that a much smaller number have similar issues.
Why is this? I suspect it's because they don't carry the same amounts of shame and guilt that men do about expressing themselves and being themselves however they please.
Society seems to give a wide latitude to girls and women. Maybe that's enough?
I have worked with about 50 genetic females (vs 400 genetic males) who were dealing with gender issues over the last 21 years. In many ways the
pressures they face by their families to remain female despite a strong desire to transition are similar to those of genetic males who are considering transition.
The big difference, and your suspicions are correct, is that many gender dysphoric women can and usually do live primarily as men anyhow.
That is, they avoid female dress styles and couple with straight female partners who in turn pretty much relate to them as if they were male.
That goes a long way to ease their gender expression deprivation anxiety. The problem, as you have surmised, is that it is often not enough.
Knowing that there is a way to permanently masculinize their bodies and function more fully in the male gender role is more then many can resist. That is when they search out for help.
8f) Do you think society is becoming more accepting of transgender?
Yes. That is apparent in several different ways. For example, only twenty years ago, in most cities in America, it was illegal for a man to crossdress in public. Now even the California DMV has a form that allows an individual to change, with a doctor's approval, not only their name but their gender identity on their driver's license. From there it is only a simple step to change all other forms of ID and go on with life.
8g) What should the society know and understand of the transgender community? What is something most people do not know about them?
First of all society must come to understand that gender identity is not simply binary. Because one's gender identity and sex form at different times while the child is still in the womb and that process is subject to potential problems, there is a very real chance that the process could be upset, leaving the child gender variant. This happens often enough for there to be, in reality, a gender spectrum. Transgendered people are born gender variant and as such are simply trying to find a space in life to exist comfortably. Also it is important not to confuse gender issues with homosexuality. Even though we hear the term LGBT used, it is a marriage of political convenience, not a biological one.
CATEGORY 9: QUESTIONS FROM FRIENDS AND FAMILY OF PEOPLE WITH GENDER ISSUES.
9a) Is there a way of dealing with Gender Identity Disorder without gender reassignment?
My daughter has told me repeatedly that she prays each night that she wakes up in a man's body.
Because she is a Christian, she faces a moral dilemma each day regarding the depth of our relationship.
Gender dysphoria is a very persistent disorder. It can't be cured in the
normal sense of the word. When I treat someone, my only objective is to help
them live with their gender variant condition. That can range from
encouraging them to introduce some minimal form of cross gender behavior in their daily life to giving serious thought to complete gender role transition.
There are no other known alternatives other then to suffer the anguish of inaction. There should be no more a moral dilemma involved with gender identity
issues than with any other medical condition.
9b) I am looking for information on the effect of a child whose father is suddenly becoming a woman, including crossdressing, hormones, name change, etc.
I suggest that you check out a new study by Richard Green recently published
in the International Journal of Transgenderism. The URL is:
Here is the abstract:
Continuing contact between transsexual parents and their children has met
with significant opposition. Two areas of concern are effects on the gender
identity of the children and reaction by the children's peer group. Eighteen
children, 10 boys, 8 girls of 9 transsexual parents, have been evaluated.
Their ages range from 5 -16 years. All live with or have regular contact
with their transsexual parent. No child has gender identity disorder. No
child has had extensive conflict with the peer group. All continue positive
relationships with their transsexual parent.
9c). My 24-year-old daughter has just announced to us that her voice sounds deeper because she is "in transition."
We had no idea what she was talking about and we are intelligent, educated and sophisticated people.
She also has a learning disorder and I wonder if there might be a relationship here. It is hard not to feel guilty and we dread when the news is made public.
How can a parent of one of these tortured individuals not feel as if they made a mistake in raising their child?
First of all, I think it is important that you understand that Gender Identity Disorder rarely, if ever has anything to do with how the individual was raised or whether or not an individual has a learning disorder.
We are all but certain now that the gender variant condition is due to a congenital anomaly.
In gender variant genetic females as your daughter appears to be, it could be due to a surge of androgens (probably from the mother through the placenta)
to your unborn daughter's brain during a critical period of her embryonic development.
You, as her mother would not have even known that it happened. Having a gender variant child is nothing to be ashamed of. Gender variance happens.
Secondly it often comes as a surprise to parents to find that their child has a gender issue. Especially if the child is "extremely creative and talented and a high achiever".
It is not something most children feel comfortable talking about. Often they are ashamed of these strong feelings and hide them from those they love the most.
More then likely your daughter has been protecting you and your husband from all of this. Your comment, "It is hard not to feel guilty and we dread when the news is made public." is telling in that regard.
That is something the three of you need to discuss at length.
You didn't mention whether or not your daughter was seeing a gender specialist or not but since her voice is changing and she says that she is in transition, she probably is.
As you know, she doesn't have to have you meet her therapist but I think it would be helpful if all of you had as many family sessions as needed to place this all in perspective.
I know if I were seeing your daughter, I would have encouraged her from the onset to have you join us in our sessions before anything as important as a referral for androgen replacement therapy commenced.
9d) A week ago my husband and I received a letter from our daughter stating that she was going to begin hormone therapy for the purpose of transitioning.
We have known for many years that our daughter is a lesbian and that she prefers to wear male clothing, but this came as a distressing shock to us.
She said that she did not want to undergo therapy and that she was going to proceed with this process on her own. Do you think that she should undergo therapy before embarking on this path?
Gender role transition is a very important matter. NO ONE should even consider doing it without the aid of a therapist that knows what they are doing.
You might inform your daughter of the World Professional Association for Trangender Health's Standards of Care, (WPATH SOC 7). A pdf copy of the SOC is available elsewhere on this site.
I suggest that if you have not already done so that you read them yourself. Hopefully she will follow through and see someone.
9e) My fiance recently told me that he had a gender identity issue but that he has it under control.
Shall I take him at his word or is this more then I can expect him to handle?
You and your fiance need to be very, very careful about going any further in your relationship without looking at this issue closer. Gender dysphoric feelings DO NOT CHANGE simply because someone has fallen in love.
There are no "miracle drugs" and the only hormone that helps gender dysphoria in males is estrogen. I suggest that you read:
Trans Forming Families: Real Stories About Transgendered Loved Ones, 2nd Edition by Ari Ishtar Lev (Editor), Mary Boenke (Editor), Jessica Xavier (Introduction)
The book is available on Amazon.com and should give you a good insight on how other couples have handled the problem. It is a positive book and you may be surprised as to your options.
9f) I am still in shock. My 19 year old son came home unexpectedly and found my fiance running around the house in panties and a bra. Help me understand.
First of all, if you have not already done so, let your fiance know that you are concerned and would like an explanation. There may be nothing to it or there may be a lot.
Either way you need to find out. I am assuming that since you have a 19 year old son that your fiance is probably in his mid-forties.
If he is a cross dresser now then he probably has been his entire life. The need to cross dress in some men is very strong and does not go away.
I suggest that you read the entries on my web site http://www.avitale.com/sotherlist.htm. The articles are written by the long time wife of a cross dresser.
The couple is doing just fine and have been doing so for many years.
9g) I have concerns about my 5 year old son. He has for the last year or so been
found wearing girls underwear that he has taken from the bathrooms at school and also has taken from family cousins on outings such as camping and so forth.
Once or twice he was caught putting on his cousins (girl) one piece swimsuit.
I have thought nothing about it simply because he has also brought home boys underwear from school and if he wasn't such a boy
(playing with insects and cars etc.) I would be more concerned, just thought maybe you could give me more insight as to whether or not children can get confused without having GID?
First of all, I would be far more concerned that your 5 year old is stealing and far less concerned about what he is taking. If you have not addressed his stealing
with him yet, I sure would start soon. Secondly there is nothing about this situation for you to think that your child has GID. Especially since he shows no other signs.
His play habits are male so he probably thinks of himself as a boy. Of course, you could ask him directly about it.
He may or may not tell you the truth, depending on how you phrase the question so try to make it sound as if you will be willing to accept his answer no matter what it may be.
9h) My ex-husband is ready to tell our 13 year-old daughter about his preferences regarding women's clothing and gender identity.
He is on estrogen and dresses as a female when away from her. However, since he only lives a mile away from us,
he is concerned she will find out from one of her schoolmates in a harsher way than him telling her now.
I can read lots on your site about the significant other, but I can't find anything to see if a 13 year old is ready.
If I remember being 13 correctly, it took a lot, lot less than this to be mortified, so it doesn't seem right to me.
Your husband is right about being the one to tell your daughter. If she does hear it from others, even if it is done nicely, she may feel that she was betrayed by him and that she was not considered important enough to have been told directly.
It could be critical to their future relationship. Although 13 year olds are very sensitive to what goes on in their parent's life and what their friends know about it,
there seems to be little choice to be had here. She will have to know sooner or later. It is more a matter of how the disclosure is made not how to avoid it.
I don't know how close your daughter is to your ex-husband. How she takes the news will depend on that relationship.
Keep in mind that children are much more concerned about being loved by a parent and their own security then what the parent looks like.
Hopefully your ex-husband is seeing a therapist and an endocrinologist for his hormones. If so I suggest that the disclosure come on a joint visit to the therapist's office.
9. I will like to know more about this gender identity disorder because just 2 years ago, my younger sister revealed to me that she is a lesbian and that pretty much she had
struggled with her sexuality ever since she was 5 years old. She is very confused and since many of our family members are not aware of this situation because she's been hiding it very well.
Please I need some of your insights.
You seem to be confusing some of your terms here. Let me see if I can clear some things up. First of all being a Lesbian has to do with sexual intimacy--preferring to have a female-female relationship.
That would be called an individual's sexual identity. When a genetic female feels that she is really a man she is talking about having a male gender identity.
If your sister has been dealing with her gender issues since she was 5 that certainly has nothing to do with her sexuality.
I'm not sure how old you sister is but she should try to read all she can about gender issues. She might also consider seeing a gender specialist.
9i)My ex-husband has recently started taking estrogen on his way to transitioning to being a woman. We have four children. When is an appropriate time to talk to children about the changes?
That depends on the age of the children. It will be some time, perhaps as long as 6 months to a year before there are any visible signs of the transition.
I would not say anything until the children begin to ask for answers. Then I would tell them an age appropriate amount of information.
Keep in mind that children under 5 take the news almost without comment while older children will ask some questions that should be answered honestly and in a matter of fact way.
9j) In your experience, have parents been mostly supportive of their transgender offspring? Any advice for parents?
I have no way of actually knowing the answer to this question. I am almost certain that if a young gender dysphoric person believes that their parents would be adverse to knowing that they are gender variant, they would keep that information to themselves and go underground with their problem. If on the other hand they feel comfortable disclosing than there is a good chance they will get the professional help they need.
9k) I am the mother of a 28 year old transgendered FTM. Since he 'came out' 8 years ago, changing his name and his way of dress. He has, also, been slowly and steadily breaking his emotional ties with the family.
The family has engaged in reading and discussion leading us to accept him and address him by his new name. I recently asked him if he felt accepted by the family, and he answered yes. However, he said that he would never be the same way with the family as he was before because he said the family did not give him what he 'deserved or was entitled to' as he was growing up. My family and I are heartbroken and at a loss as to know how to proceed.
The feeling of having been gypped of their boyhood and being angry at their parents over it is something of a pattern with female-to-male transsexuals. (Incidentally, I have not noticed a similar pattern in genetic males who transition to the female gender role).
Eight years is a long time for this standoff to be going on. Someone in the dialogue is being overly resistant and unrealistic. I would hope that your child is transitioning under psychological/medical supervision. In my practice I make a point--especially if I know there is a problem-- to bring the family into our work together to iron out just such a discord.