My earliest memory isn’t of something related to my gender, it’s of a hospital. Well technically it’s of a television in a hospital. I was eighteen months old, I had caught a nasty dose of food poisoning and been admitted to hospital and I remember as clear as day being in a cot in a room and being annoyed at my dad because I was watching a cartoon and he turned the TV off. I mentioned this memory to my mum once and she was surprised that I didn’t remember the other room the nurses put me in, apparently the hospital was very busy and we had been put in a bay that that had been converted from a communal shower room.
Guess who managed to somehow turn on the showers…
Now my second memory is about gender, and what it meant to me. I went to a Biblical themed fancy dress party when I was four or five and I was dressed as Moses, every picture of Biblical characters I’d ever seen showed men wearing smock-type clothes, very similar to a dress. So for my costume I was put in one of my big sisters dresses which had some patches of fabric sewn onto the chest to make it more manly and was given a walking stick. I was in the process of learning what was different about boys and girls and at the time the only difference I could see was clothes and hair, girls couldn’t have short hair and boys couldn’t wear dresses. Bum deal for me is what I learnt.
When you read or hear about ‘transsexual children,’ chances are, it’s nothing to do with a child being transsexual at all. Like me, everybody goes through a learning process when they’re discovering who they are and where they fit in the world. A part of that is discovering gender and what it means, toys, clothes, jobs, even cars seem to have been assigned a gender role. As far as I remember all of my childhood friends at some point, usually as part of a fancy dress type activity, wore clothes that were usually of the opposite gender, virtually every child does it. And I’m the only one (that I know of) that has turned out as a transsexual adult.
Gender is a wide and varied spectrum and not everybody fits into either 100% male or 100% female, some people don’t identify as any gender at all, right in the middle of the other genders. Wherever you sit on that spectrum, there’s nothing to be ashamed of and you’re entitled to be yourself without having to worry about other peoples reactions. If I have a child and they want to experiment with gender stereotypes then I will encourage them. It’s healthy and only adds to a young persons mental well being in the long run to know who they are and what kind of person they want to become.
It’s only natural for a parent to worry about their kids, i mean, I’d hate to have a child of mine to have to go through the mental anguish and pain of transition so it’s important to stress that only a tiny percentage of humans are transsexual, the likelihood is that your child is just starting to discover and understand better the world around them. Encourage it and embrace it, give them the space to develop emotionally and talk about their feelings, medical intervention is impossible until puberty and as they grow their gender identity may well evolve too.
I’m still a inquisitive person who gets into some sort of trouble now and again, I prefer baths to showers and I’m not as fond of watching cartoons as I once was but I am a trans woman. What happens in childhood doesn’t necessarily shape the person you become and I wish could have had a safe and supportive environment where I felt comfortable to explore my identity at a young age.
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