I can’t remember where I first saw this article but at the time I saved it for future reference. I may have taken it from another blog and if so I thank that person for posting it. I think the article was originally written for those who find issue with transsexual people for whatever reason and aims to point out that those who are born with this condition are not freaks in the strictest meaning of the word but were simply unfortunate to have been born with conflicting physical and psychological profiles…………………….Here is the article
Twins Reinforce What Trans People Know About Gender Identity
December 19, 2011 by Matt Kailey
The latest news about a trans child receiving legitimate help for a legitimate medical condition has the I-Know-What’s-Best-For-You-To-Do-With-Your-Own-Body crowd coming out of the walls again.
A recent story in the Boston Globe reports on twins who were both assigned male at birth, with one expressing a female gender identity about as early as she could walk and talk. As the story is presented, the situation is pretty clear – twins Jonas and (now) Nicole could not have been more different from the time that they were toddlers.
And while it’s true that identical twins do not necessarily have similar personalities, the two were not just exhibiting different tastes and preferences. At age four, Nicole was wearing tutus and beads and asking for a Barbie birthday cake and a princess Halloween costume, while twin brother Jonas wanted action figures and pirate toys.
Not only that, but it appears that Nicole was not the only one who was certain of her gender identity. Jonas apparently said to his father, “Dad, you might as well face it. You have a son and a daughter.” Even Nicole’s twin brother recognized that his “brother” was really his sister.
The family did what a reasonable family would do – try to discourage the “cross-gender” behavior at first, then, realizing that it wasn’t going away, look for options and solutions. Their twins are now fourteen, Nicole is receiving medical treatment, including hormone blockers, and she is living as female.
I honestly don’t know how anyone could read this article and not agree that Nicole’s parents did the right thing, but for some reason, this type of situation brings out all the critics with the same tired arguments – that children are too young to “decide” their gender, that transsexual people are mentally ill and should be treated as such, that misguided parents end up influencing their child’s gender identity, and that many transsexuals eventually come to regret their decision, so “inflicting” something like this on someone Nicole’s age is tantamount to child abuse.
Some critics are hauling out a 2004 article by Paul McHugh, University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, which focuses primarily on autogynephilia, as well as children born with non-standard genitalia whose bodies were surgically altered to appear as standard female bodies. The article doesn’t deal with trans men at all.
I don’t have McHugh’s credentials, knowledge, or background, so I’m not in a position to go head to head with him, or to argue with the experiences that he had in working with clients at Johns Hopkins. What I know is pretty simple, based on personal experience and the information I have been given by others who have had comparable personal experiences, so I can go head to head with the critics who bring out his work as “proof” that transition is a mistake and that children with “cross-gender” identification are misguided or mentally ill.
We know that most children establish their gender identity at age three or four, and, for most, it becomes very pronounced and specific at that age. This is not true of every child, but with a situation like Nicole’s, we are not speaking of a child with a fluid gender identity. We are speaking of a child with a very pronounced and specific feminine gender identity. If the critics believe that Nicole’s gender identity was not established in her mind at this time, why do they believe that her twin brother Jonas’ was? I have not heard any critic question the parents’ decision to raise Jonas as a boy. If Jonas was old enough at age four to know his own gender identity, then so was Nicole.
We know that transsexual people currently have a diagnosable mental health issue according to the DSM-IV. That doesn’t mean it’s correct or that we agree with it. We can’t argue that it’s not there in a book – we can only argue about whether or not it should be. However, there is little (if any) viable research that I am aware of to indicate that gender identity can be successfully changed. Like sexual orientation, a person can probably live, at least for a period of time, without acting on his or her gender identity, but it isn’t much of a life, and it is usually a constant struggle that often results in suicide.
We know that parents cannot seriously influence a child’s gender identity, and even McHugh acknowledges that. David Reimer‘s experience is one of probably hundreds or thousands that debunks the myth of parental or societal influence. Due to a botched circumcision, Reimer’s genitalia was reconstructed and his parents were told to raise him as a girl, which they did. Reimer maintained a male gender identity his entire life, and when he discovered that he had been born male, he ceased living as a female and adopted his natural masculine identity and roles until he committed suicide.
McHugh describes other patients who were born with “non-standard” male genitalia and were surgically altered and raised as girls. The majority of them maintained a masculine gender identity and eventually “transitioned” back to male. Of course they did. You can’t just tell a boy that he’s a girl and have him believe it, or vice versa – which is proof in my mind that transsexualism as a medical condition exists. These incidents simply reinforce the argument that transsexualism exists and cannot be socially conditioned or “therapized” away.
Gender expression and gender roles can be socially and culturally influenced, but gender identity appears to be biologically based. In most cases, if parents attempt to influence a child’s gender identity at all, it is to try to get the child to adopt gender roles and behaviors that socially and culturally align with his or her physical body. With children like Nicole and many others, we see that this influence doesn’t work and can lead to depression and other consequences. Luckily, Nicole’s parents sought help, as an increasing number of parents are doing today.