Raising Transgender Children

What is transgender? Does it differ from gender non-conforming, gender dysphoria, sexual orientation, or gender variant? What are the causes and how can parents best raise a child that is transgender? Host Dawn Davenport interviewed: Dr. Jo Olson, an Adolescent Medicine physician specializing in the care of transgender youth and gender variant children, and the director of the largest clinic in the United States for transgender youth at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; Kim Pearson, co-founder and Training Director for TransYouth Family Allies, and proud mother of a happy, healthy, transgender son; and “Anne”, mother of an 8 year old transgender child whose assigned gender at birth was male.

Hit the Highlights
  • What do the following terms mean and how do they differ: Gender variant, transgender, gender non-conforming gender dysphoria.
  • Is there a preferred term?
  • How does gender identity fit with sexual orientation?
  • How is transgender related to ambiguous genitalia or intersex?
  • How common is gender nonconformity?
  • What causes a person to be transgender? Genetic? Birth Control pills during pregnancy? Hormones in meat and milk?
  • How early do children identify with a different gender that they are born?
  • At what age do children typically identify their sexual orientation?
  • We all know rough and tumble little girls who seek out more typically male activities and little boys who prefer to play with more typically girl toys, but the expectation of most parents is that this is a phase that their child will outgrow. How do we distinguish between typical gender fluidity and being transgender?
  • It feels like our society has a great degree of what it means to be female than what it means to be male. Do you see that transgender boys have a harder time than transgender girls?
  • At what point do you allow your child to socially switch genders—and what exactly does that entail?
  • When you have allowed your transgender child to live as the gender with which they identify how do you handle things like camps, which bathrooms to use?
  • When you socially switch genders who do you tell? Teachers? Parents of friends?
  • What’s a parent to do to help their transgender child?
  • Is it considered best practice to give a transgender adolescent hormones or hormone blockers to alter puberty and secondary sexual characteristics?
  • How best to support our young kids who are gender non-conforming specifically when he/I/we meet with resistance from family and judgment from those in the larger community?
  • What percentage of transgender adults choose to go through gender realignment surgery?
  • Is grief a common feeling for parents of transgender or gender non-conforming children?

For more information from this show and a discussion of this topic, check out Dawn’s blog on the show: Is It Just A Phase? Raising A Transgender Child. Please join the discussion or leave your thoughts about the show in the comments on the blog.

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