About 20/20

So I’m still thinking about the 20/20 show that was on a few weeks ago about young kids coming out as trans.

& The thing I can’t quite get past is how many people who are gender variant grow up to be gender variant but okay with the sex they were born. A gay friend of mine called after the show was over & asked, “So what’s the difference between them & me?” because he went through most, if not all, of what one of the young MTF expressed. He did drag for most of his childhood, expressed the desire to be a girl as a child, and had a hard time dating guys who didn’t want to date a queen. I didn’t have an answer for him. I don’t know what makes some of us gender variant & some of us trans.

But I do know that talking about my own gender variance causes some trans people to decide that I’m trans, which is exactly what worries me. Were I younger and expressing my gender variance, & someone told me that meant I was trans, I’m not sure I would have had the ability or perspective to say, “No, I’m not.” I’m not sure my friend would have been able to do that, either. But both of us are quite happy being who we are, passing in & out of stages in our lives where our gender variance was expressed, hidden, or naturally waned.

There is a part of me that, like the director of The Gendercator, that is concerned that all gender variance is disappearing into transness, and that diagnosing gender variance so young will only affirm the binary, that our choices will become Mr. or Mrs. Cleaver, or even some 21st Century version of them.

Yet there is another part of me that says it’s great kids can at least say something, or that some of them can, to some of their parents, & that they don’t get kicked out of their homes or forced into therapy for doing so. That’s a good thing.

The other reality – that so many gender variant children grow up to be gay or lesbian – is also a concern. Homophobia is so huge, so unspoken, and it concerns me that most parents would rather have a daughter than a nelly, a son rather than a tomboy. While of course they might just step from homophobia into transphobia, I suspect that plenty of these parents will opt for raising their child stealth – with no one knowing their child is trans, and so will sidestep transphobia and homophobia – and the awful fear of gender variance – altogether. For some it will be too tempting to disappear into gender normalcy. & Of course, some would say, that’s a GOOD thing; everyone has the right to feel normal about their gender. I just don’t agree. I think instead people should be more conscious of gender, & the ways that gender delimits who we allow ourselves to be.

But mostly I’m still uneasy about early hormone use.

The cause for my concern surprises me the most, because what worries me is the child’s decision not to procreate. I’m surprised because I’m happily child-free and a Zero Population Growth type; the fewer reasons people have to have children the better, as far as I’m concerned.

But being who I am, I also know the astonishment people express when I say I’m happy not having children. We all know how much late-breaking couples will spend on fertility drugs in order to get pregnant at age 41. That is, having children seems to be a basic, undeniable component to most people’s happiness, and raising children gives many lives meaning it might not have otherwise.

Going on hormones at a young age means the child or teenager gives up the ability to procreate, & that is a huge thing to give up. More than one trans person has told me they’re quite pleased they didn’t transition younger precisely because it gave them the chance to have children. The thing is, I’m not sure that a 15-year-old can know, necessarily, whether or not they might want children in the future. I knew that I didn’t, and that never changed. But for others, it does; teenagers are notorious for growing up & changing their attitudes significantly, after all.

These are not easy issues, any of them. I don’t envy any parent with a gender variant child. At some level I distrust parents, for the most part, as I suspect most would want to keep their child safe, above all else: safe means fitting in, dealing with the world as it is, and not changing the world to make it safe for those of us who don’t fit in. Plenty of us, I’m afraid, would not be good at being gender normative men OR women, whether we transition or don’t.