The deaths of transgender teens are continuing to go in the wrong direction. I work with teens that are questioning their gender, wanting information about transitioning or needing direction on how to wait until they are old enough to transition. They battle social sets of fitting in; not just with clothes, personality, music, or age as most teens deal with but with GENDER.
Which bathroom? Which outfit? Which team? Which dressing room?
What if I fit into both genders or none????
The desire to fit or to understand one’s self is what every teen deals with but we ask these kids to not explore that question. It is too weird or uncomfortable. The messaging to these kids is you can think it and we can talk about it later but if you feel the need to say something or not wear what is fitting for your gender; we have a problem.
Transgender teens struggle with being able to do day-to-day activities because they can not get past the basics in their head.
What am I???
When parents and friends ask you to ignore who your head announces you are, it seems confusing. What are the guidelines to be who they want you to be? When a teen admits they do not know who they are in their own skin how are they to be someone they are SURE that they are not? Confused?
Welcome to the world of gender questions.
Tiptoeing around the question of gender is like tiptoeing around where people belonged on the bus. Maybe gender is becoming less of an issue in the younger generation. Years ago we decided that women could wear pants. Today we face can men wear a dress? Why is the reverse less important?
Healthy relationships are respectful and built on increased communications. It might not be the conversation you had hope to have with your child, but like sex, drugs, boyfriends, girlfriends, college, make-up, money or cars; gender is one we can not be afraid of. If you run from the conversation our teens suffer. Our teens make decision alone and from a place of understanding only at a cognitive ability of a teen.
As adults, parents, or counselors we have to step just past our personal comfort zones.
Melinda C. Porter, LPC