Mention children and the phrase gender identity in the same sentence and you have one of the most emotive subjects known to man. The mere utterance of children with gender identity issues evokes compassion and sympathy on the one hand and outrage and fury that a parent should even consider or countenance a change of gender for their child.

A recent article in Canada’s Globe and Mail stirred the pot again.

They turned to Ken Zucker a well known clinician in the field.

But for kids, especially younger ones, the issue is much more problematic. Gender confusion is often temporary. About three-quarters of little kids who have issues with their gender – boys who want to be princesses, girls who throw their dresses in the garbage – will be comfortable with it by adolescence, according to Dr. Zucker. (Many of them will grow up to be gay or bi.) Gender confusion can also be a handy label for whatever ails a child (or her family). That’s why Dr. Zucker takes a watch-and-wait approach. He even advises parents of princessy six-year-olds to say, “You’re not a girl. You’re a boy.”

Ken Zucker is well known for his opposition to any form of treatment other than wait and see. Is it that simple? Well the article goes on to share a counter view

And in the hotly politicized world of gender politics, that makes him, in many people’s eyes, a dangerous reactionary. They argue that a child’s identity must be honoured, and that treatment should start sooner rather than later. They equate the watch-and-wait approach with the widely discredited practice of reparative therapy, which was a failed effort to turn gay kids straight. With the advent of powerful new drugs that delay puberty, the stakes in this debate are even higher. Start them early on puberty-blocking drugs, and their eventual transition will be easier. But which kids? What if you’re pushing them on a path they don’t need to go down? At what point do you start taking life-altering decisions for a child that will have enormous physical, social and emotional consequences?

Where do I stand? Well firstly I would never ever recommend a course of action based upon a parent who was ‘Pushing them on a path’ as the article puts it. I would agree that a child should never be pushed but then I have yet too experience a situation where a child changed gender role because the parents thought it was a good idea. In my experience the only children I have worked with and who changed their gender role at school are those who were totally determined and convinced they couldn’t live in the gender role assigned at birth from their earliest memory. Furthermore a change of gender role does not necessarily mean medical intervention and certainly not surgery.

Whilst the number of children in the UK who have a serious mental conflict is significant it is certainly not a common everyday occurrence. Furthermore, a change of gender role is not an irreversible choice particularly when no cross hormones or surgical procedures are allowed in the UK. I’ll be exploring this issue in more detail in my next blog.  see article