CHILDREN & GENDER IDENTITY
How would you react if your daughter said she wants to be a boy, or your son a girl. Or if your child behaved in a manner suited to a gender role other than that assigned at birth? but won’t discuss it with you, and instead are isolated and withdrawn.
Are you a young person feeling confused or frightened because you feel your body is wrong, and that you should have been a girl if you were born a boy, or a boy if you were born a girl.
Gender identity is the sense of knowing you are male or female but for some people that sense of knowing is in conflict with their bodies. A child becomes aware of his or her gender from an early age sometimes as young as two years of age.
Gender identity issues vary. Sometimes it is a passing phase but sometimes it is permanent. Concerns may arise when a child exhibits cross-gender behaviour such as boys playing with dolls and girls playing with trucks. However, stereotypes are just that and are only an indicator.
Some children may be unhappy about their own biological sex and either wish to belong to the opposite one, or feel that they already do but there is an incongruence between mind and body. In these situations Gender Dysphoria and distress can impact on all those involved.
At school, children or teenagers with a gender identity conflict are often subjected to abuse, bullying, name calling and even physical attacks. They will often become withdrawn, unhappy and experience difficulty in coping with school life.
Education about gender identity issues in the school environment is very important and can be highly effective when dealing with these problems. A supportive environment can be hugely beneficial.
Many adults with gender identity issues describe difficulties in childhood. Often they complain of having been very unhappy children and teenagers, and that their suffering had not been recognised early enough by parents and professionals.
The important thing to remember is that these issues can be resolved. With the right support decisions can be made an appropriate course of action taken. When I work with young people and with families I create a safe environment where these issues can be explored and resolved.