Dear Dr. Meg,
I have a 16-year-old child who was born a girl but is convinced that she identifies more as a boy. I am wondering lately if this is caused by a lack of understanding her self-identity?
Also, I’ve read that transgender feelings can begin as young as four years old, so what age or stage does a person typically begin to develop self-identity? When, how, or do parents even play a role in teaching their children self-identity?
I am a believer in Jesus Christ and have walked with my Lord for 30-plus years. I have done my best to train my children in the way they should go. Regardless of the opinions of Christians out there, this is my reality.
I am in a very difficult position where I need to love my child right where she is, careful not to crush her spirit and yet provide a loving direction at the same time. It is not easy! Calling my daughter a he and “Jack” instead of Joy every day is not an easy task. There are many days I want to pull my hair out! Lots of prayers is how I get through, I guess.
Thank you for considering answering my questions. God bless you!
You ask an excellent question, so let me address it as thoroughly as I can. Here are the issues that you face.
You must absolutely love your daughter and be sensitive to her. Empathize with her and let her know that you fully understand that she is in deep emotional turmoil. Ask her questions like, What does it feel like to want to be a boy? How long have you felt this way?
Understand that your daughter needs psychological help. Many adults believe that if gender-confused kids simply accept the gender that they feel they are and get medical help, they will feel better. Research does not back this up. Whether your daughter changed into a boy or remains a girl, she is in deep inner conflict and needs help from someone who will not simply “affirm her perceived identity.”
Research shows that about 0.6% adults live with gender dysphoria. This means that the true incidents of gender dysphoria are quite rare. What is far more common is for kids and teens to go through a phase lasting about two to three years where they want to be the opposite sex.