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Source: (consider it) Thread: How early to let trans kids transition?
Golden Key
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Came across an interesting article from Harper's Bazaar: "I Had 4 Boys — Until One of Them Told Me She Was Really a Girl. As early as 18 months old, Kimberly Shappley's son started showing signs he identified as female. Now, the Christian mom shares how she learned to embrace Kai's transition — for her child's happiness and safety."

From the article:

quote:
I was raised as a devout, conservative Christian with strong Republican values in the South. It's a place where being different can not only be unforgiving, but unsafe. I was, and am, an active member of our local church. I used to lead a small ministry teaching Bible study, and I didn't support or condone those living the LGBTQ lifestyle. That was just part of the Christian makeup I'd been brought up to believe. I knew I'd instill those same principles in my children.

But all of my beliefs and convictions were brought into question when, at 18 months old, Kai began exhibiting very strong female characteristics.

Kimberly really struggled and fought, for years. When her child was four, she finally let him *socially* transition to being a girl. Name, clothing, etc.

Kai, the little girl, is much happier. (There are great pics of her.) Kimberly's choice cost her and her family a lot, in terms of judgment by others--to the point where they're thinking of moving. They've also built up a community of supporters.

BTW, the article has a link to the Trans Lifeline site, along with a phone number.

So...read the article first, please, before replying. Is it ok to let kids who are definite about being the other binary gender *socially* transition at an early age?

I think "yes", when a kid is as definite and forthright and determined as Kai.

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North East Quine

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What strikes me most about this story was the very narrow definition of what being a boy meant - "fishing and spitting and boy stuff" "flat-top haircuts" "superhero and camoflage clothes" Shortly after Kai turned two - two!- family members were asking if Kai was gay. Who asks questions about a two year old's sexuality? If somebody had asked me if I thought my two year was straight or gay I would have found that a very odd question indeed.

At three and a half -three and a half! - Kai was living a life of time-outs and spankings and yelling.

When my kids were three and a half spankings were for dangerous behaviour (unclipping the car seat and not holding Mummy's hand by busy roads) and that was about it.

If any daycare I know of was asked by a parent to put away every "girl" toy, they would assume the parent had issues, not the child.

I can't quite get my head around a community in which a toddler's behaviour was a problem, but a parent who yelled, spanked, forced an unwilling child into ugly camoflage clothes, imposed a flat-top on a child, knowing they would hate it, and asked day care to keep their child away from "girl" toys was seen as a reasonable parent.

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Golden Key
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NEQ--

I had some of the same reactions you did, and was not at all happy with most of the things Kimberly did in Kai's first four years.

I think some of the context for her actions is in the big quote in the OP. Basically, "no differences, no LGBT" is ingrained in her culture, politics, church, family, and state (Texas). I think that's why there was a question whether Joseph (name at that time) was gay. That was the only context the relatives had for a boy who wouldn't play with boys, thought they were gross, and would only play with girls and girls' toys. I don't think it was about sexuality *per se*, from what Kimberly said.

Also: Kimberly had three other sons, who evidently *were* the "fishing and spitting and boy stuff" type.

Kimberly was facing a sea change, and fought it violently, every step of the way. Fortunately, that Christian friend who's a child psychologist stepped in, and pointed out that Joseph might be trans, and kept at her about it.

I thought her request to the daycare was *bizarre*. WTH???

We only have Kimberly's account to go by, but she says she feels guilty, and has learned a lot from her daughter. And Kai is reportedly much happier.

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?"--Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon"
--"I'm not giving up--and neither should you." --SNL

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North East Quine

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In answer to your question "How early to let trans kids transition?" I'm not sure I see why Kai had to transition socially from boy to girl, rather than just be a child who enjoyed wearing pretty clothes and having long hair.

I appreciate Kai stated from an early age that she was a girl, but "being a girl" was presented as the only way she could follow her interests and preferences. Would she have identified as a girl at age three if being a boy who was allowed to play with "girl" toys and who wasn't forced to have a flat-top haircut had been an option?

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Soror Magna
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quote:
Originally posted by North East Quine:
... I can't quite get my head around a community in which a toddler's behaviour was a problem, but a parent who yelled, spanked, forced an unwilling child into ugly camoflage clothes, imposed a flat-top on a child, knowing they would hate it, and asked day care to keep their child away from "girl" toys was seen as a reasonable parent.

In their view, a good parent ensures that their children conform to traditional gender roles, and that includes shielding them from anything that might make them question or ignore those roles.

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"You come with me to room 1013 over at the hospital, I'll show you America. Terminal, crazy and mean." -- Tony Kushner, "Angels in America"

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Chorister

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It's a lot easier if a girl identifies as a boy, wants to wear boy's clothes, have a boy's name, play with boy's toys. All of which is often indulged and seen as rather cute, at least temporarily. But there does still seem to be a fear of boys doing the same. Perhaps as a reaction to the feminisation of the 1970s, when it was perfectly acceptable for boys to have long hair, wear flowery clothes and generally behave in a more girly way.

When this is allowed to happen, without comment, it often is only temporary. But the parent needs to accept that it might be a permanent identification. Which most still wouldn't really like.

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Retired, sitting back and watching others for a change.

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Golden Key
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I wonder if her church, culture, etc. teach that LGBT folks go to Hell, or are in danger of it?

She pointed out, at the end, that Kai loves Jesus.

[ 29. April 2017, 02:09: Message edited by: Golden Key ]

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?"--Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon"
--"I'm not giving up--and neither should you." --SNL

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Penny S
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It may be easier for a girl to behave in boyish ways, but I met some very strong and worried resistance to it from some parents when I was teaching. Very mild boyishness, and fearful wish to prevent it. The idea of tomboys wasn't there.
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bib
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I think it is important for parents to realise that they are the parents and therefore have an obligation to make decisions for their children up to a certain age. After all we don't allow kids to drink, smoke, drive a car, etc just because they might express a desire to. Parents seem to frightened these days to say no.

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North East Quine

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As regards the age of transition, I think that it has been far too young for Kai. There was a gap of only "a few weeks" between her mother stopping 'punishing Kai for "acting girly" 'and Kai transitioning.

Her mother reports
quote:
Within a few short weeks of letting her transition, she was no longer lying, no bed-wetting, no more nightmares.
But the end of the lying / bed wetting / nightmares also coincided with the end of the yelling, the spanking and the time-outs. Perhaps the latter would have been sufficient.

What was the hurry, to swing from one extreme to the other? And why the change of name? Why not a gentle move from Joseph to Jo?

I'm deeply uneasy about this story, mostly because Kai doesn't seem to have had any time spent simply being a pre-schooler, pootling around all the toys in daycare, using her imagination in whatever way took her fancy. She seems to have swung from one defined gender role "fishing and spitting and boy stuff" to another.

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L'organist
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I too question the whole thing, partly because I know someone with a brother who was their younger sister. While they were older when they made the change, it was pretty much the same scenario: religious conservative influence, very anti-gay, very rigid gender differentiation; lots of parental breast-beating and lots of punishment. And that child too was the fourth of four.

Upshot was that at the first opportunity Edwina took the chance to become Edward, convincing 2 psychiatrists along the way that this was a genuine case of 'being in the wrong body' - the catalyst was meeting and falling in love with another girl who seemed to have reciprocal feelings, but with so much anti-gay indoctrination Ed was paralysed about doing anything, instead convincing herself that she was the 'wrong' gender.

Fast forward through hormone treatment and surgery and the object of the affections is finally asked out - and refuses because she is a lesbian and not interested in any male. After many suicide attempts, once Edward had more-or-less come to terms with the fact that the original object of their crush wasn't interested, there was a dawning realisation that 'he' is, actually, attracted to men but doesn't feel gay.

A mess.

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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Golden Key
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L'organist--

OMG. [Votive]

If you feel comfortable saying, was this person in their teens? Did they have the requisite period of living as the new/right gender for a couple of years, before surgery?

Had they felt they were in the wrong body, when they were little?

In Kai's case, keeping in mind that we only have her mother's public article as background, Kai reportedly was trying to turn her t-shirts into dresses when she was 18 months--long before any romantic/sexual attraction. There might have been other influences or gaps, for all we know.

But Kai, reportedly, was saying she's a girl when she was very, very young. Consistently and forcefully. *Before* her mom started punishing(/abusing?) her. If that's true, I'm inclined to let her be a girl, as she feels she is.

On the DH "Cub & Boy Scouts" thread, last month, we talked about the possibility of a six-year-old expressing feeling trans, and how a parent should handle them. I offered what I thought I might do:

quote:
Re six year old:

Not a parent, but I might say some of the following if I had a little kid who approached me about this:

--"Wow", and not push further unless the kid did.

--"Wow, really? What's that like for you?", and not push further unless the kid did.

--If the kid told me, then asked why their outside and inside selves don't match: "Well, some people know right away that they're a boy or girl, and their bodies match up with that. Some people take a little longer. And, sometimes, a person's inside and outside don't match, and it may take a while to work that out. Keep talking to me about this, when you want to, ok? And if we find out, down the road, that we need to get some advice, we'll do that, too. I love you. Now, let's have some cookies and watch a movie!"

Would adjust according to age and child.

FWIW.

I have *some* sympathy for the mom, badly caught between her religious and cultural beliefs and community, and her child's needs that were wayyyy outside those boxes and beyond her own understanding.

A supportive community has formed around the situation, including trans folks. Hopefully, they can help. I think therapy for the mom would be a good idea, to help her cope, understand her daughter, and deal with everything that happened--including what she did.

FWIW.

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?"--Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon"
--"I'm not giving up--and neither should you." --SNL

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L'organist
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Edwina/ Edward only mentioned possibility of gender reassignment in teens.

As a child, she was a tomboyish girl until she was sent to a convent school (surprising because parents not at all religious and certainly not RC); by 12-13 was girly-girly and from 14-16 earned money modelling teen lingerie and swimwear.

First mentioned gender reassignment at nearly 18 and had completed hormones and surgery by 20. It all seemed far too fast to me and her family.

As for the little child in Texas: I'm with the post that suggests that had Kai's mother focused less on the "right" and "appropriate" toys, clothes and play it might have been better. Not to say it would change anything but a fourth son of four could well come up with a reaction to help them stand-out from the crowd.

[ 29. April 2017, 12:40: Message edited by: L'organist ]

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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North East Quine

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Originally posted by Golden Key:

quote:
But Kai, reportedly, was saying she's a girl when she was very, very young. Consistently and forcefully.
She was saying that she was a girl at a point at which her vocabularly was limited, too limited to explain what her understanding of "girl" was. She might have thought that a girl was someone who was allowed to play with the toy kitchen at daycare, and who didn't have to have a scary time at the barbers getting her hair cut very short.

At 3 1/2 Kai not only asserted that she was a girl, she also asserted that she was a princess. Which sounds to me a perfectly reasonable assertion by a 3 1/2 year old, but not one to base transition on.

Out of curiosity, is Kai the youngest of four? The article implies that she has three older brothers and grew up in "a very testosterone-filled family environment", but the photo at the top of the article makes it look as though she is the third in a family of four, with presumably little in the way of testosterone input from the youngest.

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Golden Key
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Quick note:

There are many other articles about Kai online. I searched on "kai trans kimberly texas". Will read/skim, if/as I have time.

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?"--Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon"
--"I'm not giving up--and neither should you." --SNL

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stonespring
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The very young age of the kid being discussed may be one thing, but at what age IS a person developed enough to be able to if s/he is trans?

I agree that if a child shows a gravitation towards a certain culturally-gendered type of dress, toys, hairdos, etc., that may be in contrast to the child's gender assigned at birth, the child should be allowed to express him/herself freely (within reason - a parent should not buy whatever expensive toys or clothing a child wants and should teach children certain cultural norms such as when to wear formal clothes, etc.).

If a child is very attached to a gender pronoun or nickname different from the one assigned at birth, the child should be allowed to use that as well, without there needing to be a discussion of any future repercussions of that unless the child brings them up. If the child's school has gender-segregated bathrooms (or other gender-specific aspect of schooling), parents should only petition the school to let the child use the bathroom, etc., of his/her choice if the child seems particularly and consistently distressed by whatever bathroom s/he is currently using. The same should be true of boy vs. girl scouts, etc.

I think late childhood/early adolescence is when a child who has consistently expressed a gender identity different from that assigned at birth should be asked by parents about the larger legal and/or medical issues of transitioning, which not all trans people choose to pursue, and only because the body changes brought on by puberty can be traumatic to people who have gender dysphoria. Of course, gender dysphoria itself can only be diagnosed by a medical professional, and not all gender nonconforming people have gender dysphoria.

This thread is not about medical transitioning anyway, so I won't go too far down that tangent.

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Boogie

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My friend tells me she knew she was a girl at six months old. She told her grandma, who said "you are a boy and don't ever, ever mention this to anyone again'. As she grew she noticed how different and later, trans, people were treated and decided to grow a beard and 'be a man'.

She then became involved in the care of others through a charity - and realised she was giving them advice - 'be yourself', which she wasn't taking herself.

So she began the process three years ago and now couldn't be happier. She's had only kindness from others, including her wife of many years. But she has many trans friends who have had a rough time.

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Jane R
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Months, or years? Most people can't talk at the age of six months...

If your friend remembers knowing that she was a girl at the age of 6 months that's quite impressive - I only know one person who has clear memories from babyhood and it's very rare.

[ 16. May 2017, 15:12: Message edited by: Jane R ]

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Callan
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Originally posted by North East Quine:

quote:
What strikes me most about this story was the very narrow definition of what being a boy meant - "fishing and spitting and boy stuff" "flat-top haircuts" "superhero and camoflage clothes" Shortly after Kai turned two - two!- family members were asking if Kai was gay. Who asks questions about a two year old's sexuality? If somebody had asked me if I thought my two year was straight or gay I would have found that a very odd question indeed.
When my daughter was two she pronounced: "When I am older I will get married. I may marry a man or I may marry a lady". I regaled three of the ladies at church with this anecdote, two of whom thought it was amusing and the third stared at me with the sort of expression worn by the protagonists of the stories of H.P. Lovecraft when they hear that Great Cthulhu is going to make a personal visit. "She's two" I snapped, "She has no understanding of sex or marriage". Basically, small children march to the beat of a different drum when it comes to boxes of male and female, gay and straight, trans or cis, which so concern us adults. It's probably a good idea to take their eccentricities in our stride in the early days and to be prepared to love them nonetheless if they end up in boxes we weren't anticipating.

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Boogie

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quote:
Originally posted by Jane R:
Months, or years? Most people can't talk at the age of six months...

If your friend remembers knowing that she was a girl at the age of 6 months that's quite impressive - I only know one person who has clear memories from babyhood and it's very rare.

Ooops - years!

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Liopleurodon

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I think this comic is relevant to the discussion here.

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Our God is an awesome God. Much better than that ridiculous God that Desert Bluffs has. - Welcome to Night Vale

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Erroneous Monk
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quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
When my daughter was two she pronounced: "When I am older I will get married. I may marry a man or I may marry a lady".

I seem to recall my nursery-age daughter planning to marry her brother and noting that some of her classmates had similar plans. I didn't think this triggered the need for a conversation about incest.

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And I shot a man in Tesco, just to watch him die.

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Jane R
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At a similar age my daughter announced that she wanted to marry Daddy when she grew up. I merely pointed out that as he was already married to me she would have to look for someone else as nice as him.
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