, 30 tweets, 14 min read
For National #ComingOutDay, a #thread on trans children coming out as a follow-up to #transphobic comments after Jacob asked @ewarren how she would protect trans kids in the #EqualityTownHall. I've seen an appalling number of harmful myths in less than 24 hours. Let's bust 'em!
"Children can't come out with a gender identity at a young age!" False. Studies of child development show that children begin to understand sex and how it relates to gender as early as two years old. See a large, long-term study by @olsonista : theatlantic.com/science/archiv…
This is also true in my personal experience running peer-support groups with parents of trans & NB children and middle- and high school-aged trans & NB youth. While many kids come out during puberty or after, a growing number of children are coming out at young ages and PERSIST.
"But gender experimentation is a normal phase of toddlerhood! These kids will grow out of it!" True, and not necessarily. Kids will often experiment with their identities during toddlerhood, not just gender.
This period of experimentation is often followed by a period of gender rigidity, when kids have internalized the social gender "rules" and begin to identify strongly--and often inflexibly--with one gender or another. theconversation.com/when-do-childr…
In my personal life, I saw this when my cisgender daughter was about three. Inspired by @KathaPollitt, I called my daughter a "gender Republican." Much to my chagrin as a queer woman, she rejected all "boy colors" and "boy clothes," turning into a devotee of pink and dresses.
How can a parent know if a child is truly trans, or if they're just going through a phase? @UCSFChildrens' mental health director, @dianeehrensaft1, uses the guideline of “persistent, consistent, & insistent." Trans kids will insist and persist in their gender identity over time.
"My kid thought she was a boy/horse/space shuttle when she was a toddler, and she isn't one now!" How long did it take your child to stop being a boy/horse/space shuttle? Did she live day in, day out as a boy/horse/space shuttle, without dropping the identity once, for months?
Did she tantrum, melt down, or act out when they were in situations where people treated your child as a girl instead of as a boy/horse/space shuttle, consistently, over months? And when you instead treated your child as a boy/horse/space shuttle, did her behavior improve?
Did your child express anger, frustration, or sadness over body parts that she thought meant she couldn't be a boy/horse/space shuttle? When you said she was pretending to be a boy/horse/space shuttle, did she get upset? Did she seem so upset about it that you were worried?
I can't express to you how much trans kids push their parents into considering a trans identity, a possibility that most parents haven't even considered before. Most parents DON'T want their children to be trans. They do their best to _prevent_ their children from being trans.
And even if the parents are accepting & supportive, they still need to deal with the fact that their families, schools, & communities are not likely to be understanding or accommodating to trans children. The barriers to letting trans children be true to themselves are immense.
"Parents these days are pushing their children to transition too early!" There's two kinds of parents of trans children: supportive & unsupportive. Unsupportive parents don't help their kids transition at all. They try to force their children to stay the gender assigned at birth.
On the other hand, supportive parents seek out professional advice at every single step of their children's development. To transition socially, parents need advice on advocating for their kids at school, how and when to do name and gender marker changes, and more.
A medical transition necessarily involves expert advice from doctors who are professionally obligated to know the risks and benefits of hormone blockers, hormone therapy, and gender-affirming surgeries and to keep up with advancing knowledge in their field.
If you haven't ever tried to navigate decision-making on when to use these therapies, you have no idea how slow and meticulous it is. Parents weigh several factors in partnership with doctors and, as they get older, their kids, to balance the kids' mental and physical well-being.
Meanwhile, the risks of NOT allowing a child to transition, or being too slow in allowing them to transition, can be dire. Children forced to occupy an identity they feel is false suffer depression and anxiety and are at risk for suicide.
The "too fast" story of transition is false and overblown. thedailybeast.com/its-absurd-to-…
"But what if parents support their child in a trans identity, but the child regrets transitioning and wants to go back to the gender assigned at birth?" The evidence so far on trans kids shows that only a small minority regret transitioning. kqed.org/futureofyou/44…
But as younger generations become more and more comfortable with thinking of gender as both fluid and a spectrum, the possibility opens that moving around that spectrum over time doesn't need to be shameful, traumatic, or wrong--or hard to change.
I love this advice from @Michelle_Herman from #CareAndFeeding in @Slate, to a parent who does suspect her child's trans identity is "just a phase": slate.com/human-interest…
"Allowing (or 'forcing') kids to be trans is child abuse." First, I want to be clear that forcing a child into any identity--gender or otherwise--that the child feels is not true to themself IS child abuse. No parent should EVER force their child to be a person they aren't.
Second, This argument is so obviously transphobic, its fallacy should be obvious on its face. But people keep saying it, so it needs to be quashed: BEING SUPPORTIVE OF A TRANS CHILD IS GOOD PARENTING. As parents, our main job is to help our kids grow up to be fully themselves.
Arguing against supporting trans children puts you at odds with no less than the @AmerAcadPeds, which released this statement in 2017 advocating for a supportive approach with trans children: aap.org/en-us/about-th…
Not enough for you? I recommend reading the full report, "Supporting and Caring for Transgender Children," by @AmerAcadPeds, @HRC, and the American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians. assets2.hrc.org/files/document… #science
@AmerAcadPeds @HRC This approach is also supported by: @UN, @APA, @AmerMedicalAssn, @NHSuk, @APsaA, @WHO, @aafp, and a bunch of other medical organizations that you can find here: transcendlegal.org/medical-organi…
Bear in mind that the official-sounding "American College of Pediatricians" is not a true medical association, but actually a transphobic hate group, and "studies" and statements by them are unsupported propaganda: lgbtqnation.com/2018/12/fake-m…
OK, last myth: "Your gender is determined by your sex! It's NATURE!" #Science says: No. @JuliaSerano's @Medium essay should bust that myth once and for all: medium.com/@juliaserano/t…
If you've made it this far, THANK YOU! Please feel free to share this thread to help stomp out transphobia. If you want to support my work, my peer-support groups are sponsored by @DavisPhoenixCo, and I will soon launch my consulting business, @Incl_Futures. Happy #ComingOutDay!
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