By ElvenPegasister with Elizabeth Couchwoman
So, a four-year-old child is going to begin ‘gender transitioning’ before their first day of preschool.
Before we can seriously consider whether the practice of ‘gender transitioning’ is, in the medium- to long-term, healthy or successful in treating gender dysphoria, we need to consider the understandings of gender in general, that are experienced by children in this period of rapid developmental change.
Three- and four-year-old children are just becoming consciously aware of gender differences. There will be the usual questions about why they have one kind of private parts and some of their friends have others, or why men don’t have breasts – and these inquiries are one part of their growing understanding that there are truly different people in the world. Alongside questions about gender, they will ask why some people are taller or shorter, why babies don’t eat solid food, why some have different coloured hair or, shock-horror, different coloured skin!
At this stage in a child’s development their views about virtually every aspect of their lives is expanding, deepening and likely to evolve. A child’s nascent sense of gender and sexuality is one small part of this process, and we should not respond an a way that warps this particular area of a child’s life out of proportion to what is really a much broader process.
Years ago, my colleagues were discussing a 13-year-old girl who wanted to transition. My unspoken thought at the time, which I now realise is shared by many, was that she was too inexperienced to know what being a girl really meant, so how could she choose to become a boy?
I thought to myself, “Shouldn’t this young teenager give being a girl a chance first, to see if she’s just having teething troubles?” – how much more then, a four-year-old, whose learning is still primarily sensory-based (as opposed to abstract reasoning)!
In conclusion, even if one were open to the concept of adults ‘transitioning’ their gender, today’s story of a four-year-old child commencing this process is extremely disturbing. It is hard to see how, when a child’s concepts of the world are in rapid development, so young a child can even recognise a disagreement between what their senses tell them and their just-forming abstract concept of themselves, and any adult direction beyond supporting these developmental processes of exploration and understanding, is likely to limit and potentially stunt a child’s development even when such intervention is commenced with loving intentions.
Photo by < J >