Op-Ed: Experts are Experts

| Jun 13, 2016
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Last week I was looking through the local paper, online of course, and came across an article by a doctor (MD and PhD) affiliated with a local children’s hospital. It was about how parents should deal with children who show signs of being differently gendered. The article gave good information on what it means to be gender dysphoric and at what ages parents could detect certain signs that their child was more comfortable as the opposite of their biological sex. All in all it was a good bit of information and if parents felt that their child was differently gendered it gave good advice on how to handle the situation so the child would grow up without the negative impact of being forced to adhere to a gender they could not accept.

The problems came in the comments. There weren’t many and only one or two agreed with the doctor’s information. The negative comments ran along the lines of “get these kids the mental health care they need.” “Why can’t people accept their NATURAL gender?” And, “My kid still believes in Santa, yet somehow he’s old enough to make a lifelong decision on what gender he is…”

To the commenting readers gender non-conformity is a non-starter. If you express a different gender than the one doctors assigned you at birth there is something wrong with you and you need to see a psychiatrist. The thought, so apparent to those of us who have struggled with gender issues, that gender non-conforming children are natural and have been part of humanity for countless years just can’t be processed. The people making these comments have just read an expert’s considered medical opinion which accepts and nurtures children who display traits of another gender  — yet they must assert their opinion that it isn’t natural, or the child is too young to understand gender. They ignore the information from the expert since it doesn’t agree with what they believe. The article says that children as young as 2 can recognize faces as male or female. (This is why sometimes crossdressers are “outed” by small children who loudly proclaim, “Mommy, that’s a man.) A 4-year-old knows which gender they belong in.

Why do these readers disagree with the expert? Because they adhere to the conservative ideas that they were raised with, and conservatives are resistant to changes in their world. To them a man is a man and a woman is a woman. They are likely upset when a woman takes charge and steps out of a submissive, maternal role to become a leader. These are the people who say men should be in charge and women shouldn’t be in positions of power and authority. They can’t accept that people can function outside of the gender role they were assigned at birth. Look at the controversy over the remake of Ghostbusters with an all female cast. The movie hasn’t been released yet and Internet trolls have gone crazy over the fact that women have replaced the male ghost busters of the original. Video game enthusiasts have heaped abuse on women who presume to compete in online gaming, and there were legions of gamers upset and going crazy when some games introduced characters who could identify as trans.

To us there is nothing unnatural or abnormal about children with gender variations. For the majority of us that was how we grew up. We learned to hide our affinity for the trappings of our true gender when we were confronted with intolerance. The doctor who wrote the article is right. Children who display different gender behavior should not be punished and “fixed.” There is nothing wrong with them. Whether they grow to be adults in the opposite of their birth sex or grow up to be gender fluid, able to operate in any gender role, they should be allowed to develop without oppression from the most important people in their young lives, their parents.

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Category: Transgender Opinion


About the Author ()

Angela Gardner is a founding member of The Renaissance Transgender Assoc., Inc., former editor of its newsletter and magazine, Transgender Community News. She was the Diva of Dish for TGF in the late 1990s and Editor of LadyLike magazine until its untimely demise. She has appeared in film and television shows portraying TG characters, as well as representing Renaissance on numerous talk shows.

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