Our little Lincoln has been telling us for many months now, “I’m a girl.” If we say the word boy, Lincoln emphatically starts yelling, “I not a boy! I’m a GIRL!”
For a long time, we thought the desire for Frozen dolls, purple shoes, pink sparkly shirts, Rainbow Brite and all the unicorn love was a phase. But then we realized it’s an ongoing 2 1/2 year phase that has grown significantly stronger over time.
When Lincoln started using words to tell us, “I’m a girl,” and asking for only girl clothes and toys and shoes, we listened.
Why did we listen to a child who is not quite 4 years old, you ask?
Because in all my years of babysitting and working at a daycare and being a mom, I’ve never had to correct a kid on their gender. I’ve had to correct them not to bite, how to share, to not climb inappropriately on bookshelves, and how to use their voices. But never about their gender. Did anyone ever have to correct you on that? Or your kids? Or did you always know without being taught?
We are listening to Lincoln because at least 41% of kids with gender dysphoria will eventually try to take their own life. And as many as 75% will self-mutilate in some way. And those statistics are too big and too tragic to ignore. Especially since kids who are supported and allowed to freely express who they are have the same low statistics for self-harm as cisgender kids. And we want to give Lincoln the best chance we can to be happy and healthy, like every other kid.
We listened because the therapist that we see who specializes in gender-creative kids said that Lincoln has all the signs they watch for in transgender children. And that being supportive will do nothing but help Lincoln find her way, but that NOT honoring Lincoln in this will certainly cause shame and harm. And that nothing we are doing can’t be undone, should Lincoln suddenly “grow out of” this. Lincoln has been full of surprises thus far so we are as anxious as anyone to see how this plays out.
For now, Lincoln will be presenting as a girl in whatever clothes she sees fit, and we will be using she/her/hers pronouns. This seems the safest and more respectful course of action for our child. And the one recommended by experts in this field.
It should not matter to our friendships what kind of genitalia my child has beneath their clothes. I hardly see how it relates to our relationships. But we do understand that for some people, this may be too big and inundating a concept for you to want to deal with. Or even to explain to your own children. We do hope those friends will listen to the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychology Association, and many other institutions that have studied transgender and gender-creative kids, where there are plenty of resources and data to prove that gender dysphoria is real and cannot be changed or influenced, only supported (or not supported).
I’ve always felt that it’s good to know who your friends are, and who your friends aren’t. If you do some research and/or respectfully talk with us and still cannot be supportive, we’d like to say thank you for the past we’ve shared but we respectfully ask you to politely leave our lives. The world is harsh enough and our first priority is our children and helping them feel loved and accepted as they are. If you are unable to do that, we understand, but then it’s best that we part ways.
What we hope, though, is that our friends and family are willing to learn and journey with us, to support Lincoln in whatever way she chooses to express herself as she ages, and be a supportive village for us as we make this world more accepting place for all of us.
We are absolutely humbled and grateful for the amazing love and support that we have received from our closest friends and family that we’ve felt close enough to share this with as we’ve been learning (and struggling to make sense of it all). When things got hard and scary, the people who truly love and support us as -exactly we are- have risen to the surface and been here and for that we are thankful and blessed.
If you are looking for more information, the documentary Gender Revolution with Katie Couric is an excellent resource and available on Netflix. I’m also attaching a link recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics which gives some very clear answers to questions that most people ask. Sadly, most people don’t know anything about gender until they have a reason to. This was also true about us. We are still learning, too.
We truly hope that all of you will open your hearts and minds, learn with us and stay along for the ride.
Click to access SupportingCaringforTransChildren.pdf