Miranda Yardley: Common Threads And Narratives of Transgender Children And What This Means For Our Lesbian And Gay Populations

Miranda Yardley writes:

This is some original research I did for a larger project which for reasons of space I shall be referring to from that project. It’s good I think to have this out here in full as it would have been quite a long section that makes some points I believe are important.

In the UK, the national centre for the assessment and treatment of gender dysphoric children and young adults is the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, based in Leeds and London. Taken from the document ‘Gender Identity Development Service Statistics‘ we can see that in 2009/10, the number of referrals of natal males was 56 with 40 referrals of females, with a single referral of a child “of transsexual parent” with no apparent attempt to identify sex, total 97, split 58.3% male and 41.7% female. The latest reported figures for 2015/16 which show a total of 1,419 referrals split between 490 male and 929 female and a shift in composition to 65.5% female and 34.5% male. This represents a huge increase in the numbers of children and young adults seeking help for gender non-conformity and cross-sex identification, as well as a significant change in the composition of children and young adults seeking help; historically, the reported incidences of males seeking such help has far outstripped the numbers of females, yet this appears to no longer be the case. Overall, there has been a fifteen-fold increase in referrals of children and young people over a six year period, and a 23-fold increase in girls against an 8.75-fold increase in boys.

I have used public sources to examine the commonalities between the lives and experiences of children who claim a “transgender” identity. Historically, stories that made the media consisted mainly of adult males who announced to the world their new identity, however recently we are seeing more evidence of these young children and adolescents as well as females “transitioning” to male.

The following quotes are extracted from a selection of stories on the Daily Mail (British newspaper) website looking at young transgender males (sources are linked at the end of this piece):

They had presumed their prancing, pink-loving son who squirreled away cousins’ girl toys was gay… He wore sweatpants around his head to mimic ponytails and dressed as a princess for Halloween. And he hated boy things – especially his body.[1]

Sources said the youngster had confided in friends that he wanted to be a girl and would put on a bikini to go swimming and use a Barbie towel. He rode to primary school on a pink scooter and wore pink ribbons in his hair.[2]

While Blaine preferred playing with trucks and cars, Keat liked dolls. At school he liked playing dress up with the princess dresses… Keat was so happy in her skin but I dreaded that first day back at school where she would be going back to class with pigtails and a pink backpack.[3]

She grew her hair out, pierced her ears, and wore dresses everywhere – even to kindergarten… growing up Jazz’s bedroom was filled with girly things – pink bed linen, a closet filled with dresses and an ample collection of stuffed animals.[4]

When she chats with people, she introduces herself as, “Hi, I’m Sadie, my favorite color is pink, I’m vegan, and I’m transgender. Who are you?”‘ Sage said.[5]

“I’m wishing for the one I love to find me!” the preschooler would enthusiastically sing into the toilet, copying Snow White, who sings into the echoing wishing well in the animated Disney movie. Six months after her second birthday, her parents say Ryan was drawn to all things pink and sparkly. Ryan, the boy, wore pajama pants on his head, pretending it was long hair, or acted out girl roles from movies.[6]

Danann Tyler, who was born male but now dresses as a little girl and has long hair,… he never had any interest in the toys his elder brother Liam had loved. His sippy cup had to be pink. When a family friend playing dress up put him in a princess gown, he refused to take it off.[7]

The commonality of these narratives is striking, within these seven stories mention is made of the following: a preference for pink (7/7), hair (6/7), princesses and dresses (5/7), ‘toys for girls’ (5/7).

This does not appear to be unique, and is filtering through to childcare organisations. Interviewed in 2015, the CEO of the transgender children’s charity Mermaids Gender said [….]

Article continues at Common Threads And Narratives of Transgender Children And What This Means For Our Lesbian And Gay Populations | Miranda Yardley

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