Every child should be able to explore who they are and what they are. In 2017 this has expanded to children exploring their sexual identity. The topic, by itself, is highly controversial. Lets start with basic definitions:
Gender Dysphoria: Gender dysphoria or GD is the stress a person experiences as a result of the sex and gender they were assigned at birth.
Cisgender: denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex.
Transgender: denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex.
It is important to note that the rate of transgender population is extremely high around 44% in men and about 38% in women. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/AFSP-Williams-Suicide-Report-Final.pdf
The failure to feel accepted by family is a huge factor in why suicide rates are so high. The question is how do we help these individuals feel supported and find their path in life? In 2017 that is not an easy answer. The purpose of this article is NOT to support one position over the other. The purpose of this article is to EDUCATE the reader in the positions being taken.
One stream of thought is to help children with GD START AT THE VERY BEGINNING develop into the body of their choice. Young boys as early as age 9, for example, can be prescribed hormone blockers to stop their bodies from naturally evolving into a young man. The theory would be that children will feel more accepted and less alienated and less inclined to inflict self harm.
On the other hand, The American Pediatric Society stated that 80 percent to 95 percent of pre-pubertal youth with GD do not persist in their GD. Given that statistic one could infer from this report that prescribing hormone blockers to children could do MORE harm than good. Certain critics actually go so far as to say that providing children with hormone blockers amounts to child abuse.
So what are we to do when parents take polarizing positions regarding their (gender dysphoric) child? Divorce Courts will have to help make decisions on how children with gender dysphoria will grow and develop.
- The child should be initially assessed by a psychologist to determine the needs and wants of the child. If a mental health issue is raised it should be addressed and assessed.
- Appoint a parent facilitator to listen to the parents concerns and then help them develop a parenting plan to meet the needs of the child.
- Direct the parents, if necessary to educational programs or support groups, to help them understand the issues confronting their child
- Create a plan of action that will allow the child to successfully integrate into school and with peers.
- Involve an amicus attorney or guardian ad litem,
It is our hope that additional resources will become available to assist family law courts in dealing with children who have gender dysphoria.