Thanks to Jezebel for pointing me in the direction of an amazing article on this website about transgendered children.
I once saw and Oprah program about this and it’s always stayed with me.
Transgendered kids are kids who identify as the opposite sex. Just like transgendered adults, they’re not gay and they’re not transvestites, they simply believe they have been born into the wrong body.
This article tells the story of two little boys whose parents are taking radically different approaches to dealing with their son’s gender confusion.
According to Jezebel:
Basically from birth, both Bradley and Jonah favored girl things. Bradley wanted to be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz for
Halloween when he was 2 1/2, and insisted on wearing his Dorothy hair
(made out of a tea towel) for months after; Jonah was 2 when his father, Joel, first realized that no amount of
enthusiasm could persuade his child to play with balls.
Both these boys wanted to be little girls pretty
much from the moment they could express the desire, and while
Bradley’s parents have tried to force him out of it — by taking away
his Polly Pockets and Barbies and encouraging interaction with other
boys — Jonah’s parents have allowed him to embrace his desires. At this
point, Jonah’s parents refer to him as "she", and she herself tells
people her name is Jona.
Both Bradley and Jonah are under the care of psychiatric professionals
— Dr. Ken Zucker and Dr. Diane Ehrensaft, respectively. Zucker and
Ehrensaft have conflicting theories on how best to deal with a
gender-confused child. Zucker, based in Toronto, believes that boys
like Bradley should be socialized as boys, even if they see themselves
That means no more playing with girls or pretending to be one. No more girls toys. No more pink. But isn’t this like trying to force someone gay to be straight? Or the other way around?
He reasons, "Suppose you were a clinician and a 4-year-old
black kid came into your office and said he wanted to be white. Would
you go with that? … I don’t think we would."
Whereas Eherensaft (the other boy’s pyschologist) sees Jonah’s condition as clear cut case of
transgendered identity. "If we allow people to unfold and give them the
freedom to be who they really are, we engender health. And if we try
and constrict it, or bend the twig, we engender poor mental health,"
she tells NPR.
So Jonah is allowed to be Jona and identify as a girl.
The thing is, Jona is a happy, popular kid and Bradley is utterly miserable.
Since his parents took away all his "girly" stuff, his mom says,
Bradley "really struggles with the color pink. He really struggles with
the color pink. He can’t even really look at pink…He’s like an
addict. He’s like, ‘Mommy, don’t take me there! Close my eyes! Cover my
eyes! I can’t see that stuff; it’s all pink!’" Meanwhile, Jonah — now
Jona — is thriving. According to her teacher, "Jonah is one of the most
popular kids. Kids love her, they want to play with her, she’s fun, and
it’s because she’s so comfortable with herself that she makes other
For their part, Jona’s parents Joel and Pam say they are clearly happy
with the choice they’ve made. Joel says he now thinks of Jonah as his
daughter, and he says that she — Jona — is thriving.
comfortable with her own being when she’s simply left to be who she is
without any of these restrictions being put on her. It’s just
remarkable to see."