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Raising an intersexed/transgender child (updated)

Okay...I don't want to be unprofessional or inappropriate with his thread but I feel like you all would be a good resource for my thoughts and questions here....Are you around Baypuppy?

The six year old boy that I nanny is....different than the other boys. He WANTS to be a girl. His favorite thing int eh world to do is "dress like a girl" with high heels and dresses and bows in his hair. His mom and I work really hard sometimes to encourage him to wear boys cloths out in public and to school WITHOUT saying that he needs to do it so people will like him, because he is a boy and boys are supposed to dress like boys, or that its "wrong" or "weird" to want to dress like a girl, etc.

Blessedly, his mom is a very liberal hippy and she and I both feel that we need to encourage this child to be who he is---whatever that may be. We neither encourage nor discourage this behavior. We will say things like "You may wear the pink vest with faux fur and glitter on it and the sparkly shoes to school if you really want to but you need to be prepared that the other kids might not be used to it and make fun of you because they do not understand...."  and he USUALLY goes and changes outfits. Recently an 11 year old child in our town hung himself to death because his classmates were teasing him about being "gay." It was so tragic. I just cant believe that such young children would even THINK to have made fun of him that way and to such a degree that he felt the need to die  :'(

That being said, this six year old is already facing comments from his peers and unsupportive relatives. His teacher was encouraging his mom to look into alternative education for him (which his mom has already been doing...she is considering homeschooling the children or sending him to a preforming arts  magnet program for highschool- this child LOVES theater and singing. We enroll him in classes to encourage those skills.)

Anyways, I was just wondering how I can support him to be who he is. What can we do to prepare him to deal with this stuff as he ages. He has been in this "stage" since he was 2 years old, so while it is possible he will out grow it, he may not....even if he does out grow it, he will need to learn how to deal with his peers not accepting or being supportive of everything he does. I think the case of that 11 year old really makes me want to be sure we are dong things right. This is not something to mess around with. Also, my best frined growing up (and my first fiance...) liked doing "girl things" and his parents absolutely discouraged it for their own reasons----but that didnt change who this kid was. He is still an adult with all those tendencies but also with extreme shame and guilt over who he is and what he likes. It makes me sad to see. I wonder if there are resources on line or maybe books to read? I don't know....any thoughts guys?

VHZ, you're amazing. Seriously, you are amazing.

it sounds like he either really loves to dress like a girl, or that s/he might be transgendered. In the second case, she'd probably feel that she IS a girl, and would be confused as to why she has a male body and is expected to do "male" things. If that is the case, the best thing to do would probably be to let this kid live as much as possible according to their gender identity (so if it's female, well, keep doing what you're doing as long as safety doesn't become an issue). I'm sad to hear the teacher hasn't been more supportive here, I find that once kids have something explained to them and are able to talk and ask questions openly, they're often very accepting of people's differences.

I could go on and on here about gender roles etc. but I don't think it'd be too helpful, so I'm going to leave you with a video that might be helpful to you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Utpam0IGYac&feature=related

(there are 5 parts - I'd suggest you watch the whole thing, it's quite good!) The whole gender ID disorder is something that's become controversial, but overall the video is one of the best ones I've seen.

Also, I wanted to mention that intersex is a physical characteristic - what you're talking about here sounds like someone who is trans. just to clear up any confusion. :)

PFLAG might also be helpful. http://community.pflag.org/Page.aspx?pid=380

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Thanks for the encouraging words Tino!!! I will watch that video for sure and check out the link. Also, thank you for informing me about the use of the word "intersexed" I think I got that from a  dateline thing I saw over a year ago about intersexed children (before I even met this child) so I must have missed that aspect of it. I'm not sure what his gender identity is. He always says (in a dreamy voice) "lets pretend I'm a GIRL! My name is C****linda" (his name just feminized) He also gets very upset when people tease him about being a girl- but that might just be becasue it is mean spirited, not becasue he disagrees with being a girl. He also does not argue that he IS actually a girl- but that could be becasue he is only six and might not know how to articulate that. His teacher brought it up to his mom becasue she is leaving the classroom and becasue this child is exceptionally bright and has a horrible temper that she worried that as he aged, public school might become more of a challenge for him. He live in a typical upper class New England town where everything "weird" or "different" is frowned on and this child is very very open about his love of "pretending" to be a girl- it really could become a safety issue. One thing is, the child has some awareness that I think will take him far- the other day he told me that he really wanted to kiss a boy in his class but he didn't because the boy might not like being kissed by another boy....okay....

Hopefully other people will continue to chime in here as well!

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As a school teacher of some very feminine boys.  They do get teased by other boys.  The girls on the other hand love the more feminine boys.  I understand that being a feminine male and being transgendered/sexed is very different.  But after seeing feminine boys in school get teased by other kids, I can't imagine what a student would go through if they were trans.  While he is at this school, until he has a chance to move to a place where he is more accepted for who he is, I would look for a counselor or mentor for him either within the school district or outside of the school district for him to go to if he is having problems with classmates.  To have someone specifically work with him on dealing with the teasing and this tough time could be beneficial.  It would be VERY important to find the perfect match.  To have someone who will want to try and "change" this child is not right, obviously.  Is there a GLBT organization in your area?  They might know of GLBT friendly teachers in this childs school. 

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Your post intrigued me and I spent some time today looking at book descriptions 'n things.  The books were about accepting children for who they are.  You're well past that.  There's not a lot about how to help them establish a strong sense of self-esteem.  It seems to me that a lot of kids who have a major self-esteem/self-acceptance crisis in childhood keep it.  The family is already very helpful in it not being an issue.  Acceptance by your parents, mothers especially, seem to be a lifelong issue.  I wish I found something that would be helpful.  If his mom is considering a performing arts high school (I would have LOVED to attend one), can she get him somewhere like that earlier?  Is there a middle school for that?  There's a lot of years between 6 and 14/15.  Or, like others have said, help give him an environment (peers/other) where he gains tools to deal with reactions.  The GLBTQ community may have resources.  If you can't find them online, contact a school to see if they have a club and talk to the teacher advisor (high school) or group contact (college) about local contacts.

I don't say it enough:  I  :)>>> you, vhz.

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Zealia I have no real advice for you but yeah, it's amazing that you're putting the time and effort into researching this. You're made of much win :)

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Awww, you guys are all so fabulous! HH, thank you for trying to find helpful stuff for me....We don't think there is a program for children before high school....I'll look into that mentoring thing....I'm not sure if we should look specifically for a GLBTQ mentor, or just any mentor he gets on with???

oh, but look at this really cool site I found about transgender or gender spectrum families and children....they even have a book. I might order it...We shall see...maybe the library would buy a copy??? (I'm not sure if I should put a  :-D or if the library actually WOULD consider buying a copy???)  I read an article about transgender children and the article made it sound like the kids will always INSIST they ARE a girl/boy and correct people if they refer to them as something other than what they want to be or believe themselves to be. The kids also do a lot of talking about having negative feelings about their genitalia...This kids does not insist we refer to him as a girl at all times- and he doesnt mention dissatisfaction with his physical body (that I know of) For those reasons, I liked the term "gender spectrum."  I think I will look around their site some more and keep looking for more info....if anyone stumbles across anything else, let me know!

heres the site I found:
http://www.genderspectrumfamily.org/

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I wouldn't say that the mentor has to be from the GLBTQ community at all - even though I essentially alluded to it.  I guess I was thinking of where to find cool people.  Really, the person's function is to be a sounding board and esteem builder, so it's not something that only a single group could provide.

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I don't really have anything to add...as a teacher though, I can pretty much echo what Kelsi said.

I will also echo what everyone has said...you are such a fabulous person Zealia! I hope you are taking care of yourself so that you can continue to help everyone else in the world
:flower:

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awesome :D I am loving how positive this thread is!

Well, it sounds like he might not be transgendered, and just likes to do "girly" things. Then the kiss thing, well, maybe he's queer. (I want to emphasize here that sexual orientation and gender identity are different things).  Alot of kids know they are queer before they even know there's a word for it (I was one of those kids). If that's the case (or even if it's not!) I'd suggest just being open about the fact that queer people exist - so he knows it's not a problem & he can talk about it.

I have some great and caring parents, but was not exposed to anything queer at all when I was young, and it was pretty isolating to know that I was different than other kids. No one talked about it. It's not the kind of thing you want to bring up yourself as a kid, if other people don't even acknowledge it - it makes you feel like something's wrong with you & that you're the only one like this...alot of people seem to think queerness isn't "appropriate" for kids to be exposed to, but I really feel that kids NEED to know about these things, especiallly since many of them already know on some level that they might be queer. I grew up in the catholic school system & the only thing I learned from school was that there WAS a word for it - from people calling each other homophobic names.

Anyway, it sounds like you/his family probably have that covered too, and I'm sure you're doing a great job! :D (sorry if this is incoherent, it's 6:15 here and I'm all groggy, heh)

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UPDATED:
IM enraged!!!!!

Today we got a phone call from the principal of the elementary school where this six year old attends first grade....She was calling to lecture the child's mother and me.

You see, we have this struggle with the child almost every single day about wearing socially appropriate cloths to school (well, struggle is to strong a word---see my previous post on how we deal with it) Yesterday was "wear your teachers favorite coolr to school day". His teachers favorite color is pink....SO, our boy (?) insisted on wearing a lovely pink shirt. We figured, "hey its his chance to be both socially appropriate AND wear what the hall he wants." So we let him wear the pink shirt. He also wanted his hair in pigtails....which he has worn to school before....and we let him do that, but not before we talked to him about other kids possible reactions to it.... BUT HE REALLY WANTED TO. Its turns out, the other boys in the class chose to do something like wear pink socks....so our C was the only boy wearing a bright pink, girls cut shirt....yes, the kids did make fun of him...and yes, he did cry....and yes, we did talk with him about it when he came home and consoled him and reminded him that we still loved him even though the other kids were mean to him...

But the principal calls today to tell us that it was very inappropriate to let him come to school like that and that we are obviously not giving him enough attention at home if he feels the need to act like a girl. and blablabla. To which his mother basically replied that her son id the most flamboyantly gay child she has ever known and that she wanted him to be who he is, that his desire to be a girl was neither a "behavior problem" nor a cry for help. His mother also told the principal that she thinks the kids are right and that this upper class school is not appropriate for their family and that she is putting in a request to have the children moved to an elementary school with more diversity.

I just feel really enraged. I swear. The principal tried to convince the mom that there is a lot of diversity at the school and that the problem is just with something we are doing or not doing at home....I'm like...What the fuck, maybe you should talked to your teachers and playground monitors about the taunting and bulling that goes on at their school??? Like, instead of harassing the families for having children who don't fit int their precise little mold of what a boy should be?? Its so fucking not right, its not even funny...I need you guys to share my rage with me.

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wow - that principal is an asshole!  how about they call the other kids parents and tell them that their little angel thoroughly enjoys tormenting other children and that they need learn to accept different people instead of harassing them?

sorry you had to deal with that idiot.

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What an ass! Kudos to you both for letting him be himself - and to his mother for having the balls to call the principal on her behaviour... and move her son, since obviously this school isn't working out for him.

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I'm sorry that you, the child, and the parents are having a rough time. Hopefully this will spur a transition to put you all in a better place - I could see a more diversified school as a welcome change.

I hope things get better for all of you. He is lucky in the respect that both you and his mother seem to be totally supportive of who he is and wants to be.

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Zealia, I understand how truly irritating this experience....as a child I was picked on in much the same way for being different....to the point where I HAD to switch schools for physical safety. I am grateful that you and Mom are as direct as you have been and are choosing to switch schools earlier than later.

However, there is an EXTREMELY big 'upside' in the child switching schools this early in their life. If possible, I'd recommend they be seen by a gender counselor to be 'tested'. If they ARE 'female' then she can REALLY be a 'she' at the new school.

G's prior g/f has a child who is 10 I think now....and has 'been a boy' since he was 6 I think? No one, with the exception of maybe a few teachers/staff at his school know that he actually has the body of a girl. He uses the boys bathroom, (with the help of the 'p-mate') stands when he pees, really does live as boy as much as possible. Now how this will play out when puberty hits, I don't know. What I do know, is that his mother has done her homework and I believe they have been going to a gender counselor type person to help with the specifics of how he can be as true to himself as possible.

Good job at being so encouraging, keep it up! Keep us updated!

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G's prior g/f has a child who is 10 I think now....and has 'been a boy' since he was 6 I think? No one, with the exception of maybe a few teachers/staff at his school know that he actually has the body of a girl. He uses the boys bathroom, (with the help of the 'p-mate') stands when he pees, really does live as boy as much as possible. Now how this will play out when puberty hits, I don't know. What I do know, is that his mother has done her homework and I believe they have been going to a gender counselor type person to help with the specifics of how he can be as true to himself as possible.

Neat!  The p-mate---classic vegweb.  ;D

Ugh, truth be told, Z, that principal could probably be handed a lawsuit--he's supporting bullying and discrimination--and reprimanding the victim!  Good for the mom for just pulling him.  It sounds like the kid has lots of support from you and the family.  That's awesome. 

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wow, what ignorance. These are the kinds of things kids SHOULD be learning about in school, so they don't grow up to become principals who blame bullying on the victim(s) of it...ugh. Has anyone given the principal any informative material about this issue? I'm sure there could be some out there...gah. Everyone should undergo anti-oppression training, imo. I'm sorry it hasn't worked out vhz.

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Yeah, the principal is a jerk...I know WE have not given her any educational info on it...one would think it would have somehow crossed her path before now, but, I don't know...I suppose we should look around for some to pass on to her even if we are switching school so the next kid to come along might get different treatment. It is really troubling to me that she is laming the victim in this situation. I wonder why she doesn't see it that way?

Hanashi, the school he is going to is the one he was at last year for Kindergarten, so I don't think we could completely do the switching...and I dont even know if that's what he would WANT. I don't know the whole thing is confusing and complicated...I do however think it is a good suggestion to have him see gender counselor...I guess Ill look and see if there are any in our area, maybe contact someone at that gender spectrum website too....and of course talk to him mom about it...That's good that the mother you were talking about was accepting of her child and was aboe to work out as situation that was good for the kid.

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i agree with hanashi about having him see a counselor/therapist who specializes in children and gender. however, you need to be careful because some will do aversion therapies to "correct the problem" vs. helping the child and family sort out what is going on and provide support for figuring out the next steps to take. so make sure you know what they "do" with the kids before going as to not scare him anymore than he is.

also, in working to figure out who he is be careful to keep from conflating gender and sexuality. i noticed you mentioned that him mom referenced him as gay, which i'm not sure it really an appropriate thing given what i've read (not that it is alot) about his desires. being gay would mean he sexually desires other boys, but this seems more like a gender identity issue. it is a common misunderstanding that gayness is associated with the other gender (gay men = feminine, gay women = masculine). i think he might be a bit young (but again, kids are getting sexual young these days) for sexuality stuff to be coming in/identities of that sort to be forming.

as hanashi noted, a lot of people working with reassignment issues that i'm aware of state that moving with the reassignment is the best. you can move to a new place and "start over" without having to go though things such as "i thought you had a son/daughter" etc. but i think a lot of that was more "back in the day" and there are a lot of people who transition and people just have to deal with it. however, with kids a new school might be ideal because youngsters are to limited in their ability to figure things out (they have very narrow understandings of how gender works to start with) that it might be easier.

idk, it's tough. another good example of cisgender privilege.

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beeps, remember that vw crush? it just got a little stronger. ;)

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Well, Zealia... what can I say, except... You are SO wonderful for caring for the boy in this way! Asking for advice here shows Your compassion, responsibility, openness, and all-around awesomeness.  :)>>> Thank You.

I have some little blurbs to say along the lines of tino's, hanashi's, and bp's comments so far, but I have to run soon. I'll be back.

oh, and bp...
my VW crush on You just went  :hotforyou: and :iloveyou:
just so y'know.

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