When diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder (GID) at a young age, parents are tasked with deciding the best way to help their child. The response of parents varies. Some parents refuse to accept their child, pushing certain beliefs and constraints on them to fall within the line of society. Some allow their child to go through counseling in hopes that it will help, and still others pursue hormonal treatments to help their child transition. There are as many approaches to this dilemma as there are parents facing it.
After diagnosis, most children remain in the care of their psychiatrist, but there are also certain medical options parents can choose to pursue for their child. Physically, children have not hit the point in their development where hormones begin to push the development of sexual characteristics, such as the deepening of the voice of a boy. Puberty begins these changes. Doctors, however, can delay these changes through hormone blockers, thus allowing a child to pursue his or her chosen identity without the complications puberty would bring. Many parents see this as an opportunity for their child to fully explore the identity within which he or she feels most comfortable before taking a more drastic step in the hormonal or physical makeup of the child. Essentially, this approach allows the child to live the life chosen and to mature more before making a decision.
The debate about the best approach continues every week as another article is added, another opinion, another personal story. Some call the hormone blockers a form of abuse, stating the body must mature naturally for the mind to follow. Others laud the parents for their brave decision in the face of such a difficult trial. How can you know certainly what your child needs in regards to their gender identity at that point in life? But these parents are grasping for time, and for the happiness of their children.
Children with GID feel out of place, uncertain, scared, and angry with their own bodies. Many threaten harm to themselves because they do not feel safe with themselves. Their inside does not match the outside, and so the outside is somehow wrong and must be changed, sometimes leading to genital mutilation.
Although it is difficult to make this kind of choice on behalf of a child, especially when he or she is still growing into an identity, compromising and allowing a child to explore seems like the best approach. Childhood is supposed to be a happy time, one where identity shouldn’t necessarily matter, but where baseball and ponies and swingsets should, whether dressed in skirts or camo shorts.