I *think* my 5 year old is transgendered.
Wait. Let me stop you right there, before you launch into “How can you know? He’s only FIVE!” and “Shame on you for labelling him before he’s old enough to make that decision!” and, my favourite, “it’s just a phase.”
Allow me to present the evidence, and you can come to your own conclusion:
- I always gave my kids choices for clothing – do you want this one? How about this one? Or this one? And when they pointed and nodded, that’s what they wore that day. I didn’t care what it was, as long as it was warm enough for the weather that day. Since he was old enough to point, he has always chosen pink clothes. This in itself does not indicate anything other than that he likes pink. Many boys like pink. Pink is a nice colour! Because we had a daughter first, we had lots of hand-me-downs that were pink, but we also had lots of blue and green hand-me-downs from people that heard we had a boy.
- Aside from pink, the next criteria for favourite clothing was sparkles. Anything with sparkles was preferred over all others. Flowers and butterflies were also preferred over other designs, as were gems, jewels, sequins, etc. Frills of any kind were also special. Again, this in itself is not indicative of anything other than an appreciation for beauty.
- Dresses and skirts. As soon as he could crawl over to the dress-up bin, he would pull out any skirt or dress and put it on. And when he was old enough that I could send him to his room to pick out his clothes, he always came down with something pretty. If it wasn’t his pink shirt and leggings, it would be his sister’s dress. He would choose the dress that flared out the most when he twirled. Seeing his affiliation for flowy things, I included dresses in his wardrobe choices.
- One day, when he was getting ready for preschool (aged 3), he broke down in tears because he didn’t have anything “pretty” to wear. His sister had gotten annoyed at sharing her clothing and forbade him to “borrow” her clothes. That day I went out and bought him his own “pretty” clothes. You should’ve seen the delight on his face when he saw those clothes! My heart smiled.
- When he was 4, after his sister had left for school, I held him for half an hour while he buried his face in his hands and cried big, sobbing tears and said repeatedly “I wish I was a girl!” I cradled him on my lap and rocked back and forth, whispering “you can be a girl if you want.” Once he had let it all out, we went to the computer and looked up transgendered children and I showed him a picture of a boy who was a girl, and of a girl who was a boy, and said “YOU can CHOOSE who you want to be.”
- He has grown his hair long, well past his shoulders now, and occasionally likes to have it braided or put in pig tails. Good grief, it’s adorable! He also likes to wear hair clips or hair bands, but those press on his scalp so he doesn’t wear them for long.
- He doesn’t like boys, is only comfortable playing with girls.
- He is very emotional.
- He loves to clean (yaaaay!)
- He wants to have a spa day and get his nails done.
None of these things prove that he’s transgendered. Not one individually, and not a whole bunch of them together. But if you look at ALL of the evidence, and if you really, truly listen to him, I think you might agree that yes, perhaps, this IS a little girl trapped in a boy’s body.
And maybe not! But wouldn’t it be nice to LET HIM choose? I do NOT want to make the choice for him – “you ARE a boy!” or “you ARE a girl!” I tell him “when you’re old enough, you can choose if you want to be a boy or a girl.” But I also make sure to tell him “you are my child, and I will love you no matter which you choose to be.”
Because I love his heart, not his gender.