I came across a video the other day titled “Parents Allow Transgender Child to Choose Gender”
A short summary of the video: Parents to a 6 year old who was born female allow their child to identify as male. Ryland was born deaf and the Whittington parents found out when he was about one year old. Ryland soon became vocal about his gender identity shortly after he received cochlear implants. He would say “I am a boy” and refer to himself as a brother.
Despite the challenges this couple had to go through, finding out their child was deaf and not a girl like they had planned for, they were very empathetic in their response to let the child be free to choose his own lifestyle. In my opinion, it is so important for us as individuals to allow other individuals to choose their own paths. We should trust in their decisions especially regarding gender and sexual orientation because that person knows better than any one else how he/she feels and would like to be identified as. Just like I do not want people making decisions about aspects of my own identity, I would not want to force a label on somebody who does not even use that same label on him/herself. It is ultimately their choice, no matter how young, old, or what not; not ours. Not our body. Not our mind. Not our choice. Again, this is all my opinion, and of course there may be others who disagree and that is okay. But, what I took from this video is that it must be very difficult for children especially, to be forced into gender roles that they are not comfortable with. I think that sometimes we make up excuses for behaviors we are not comfortable confronting, so we may say that the child is just going through a phase and he/she will grow out of it; and these excuses may push our own decisions onto the child, by enforcing their birth sex and not allowing them to explore/experiment with the opposite gender role identity. An example would be a parent not allowing her son to dress up in girl clothes, or to carry a purse around (because it’s not what boys are supposed to do). I loved this video so much because of how supportive and compassionate Ryland’s parents were about his decision to be a boy. Ryland said “When the family dies, I will cut my hair so I can be a boy”, followed by “Why did God make me like this?” The parents acknowledged his feelings and maintained the mindset that even though Ryland was only 5 years old, they needed to start truly listening to what he was saying and feeling. As a future professional social worker, I believe in an individual’s right to self-determination and believe that it is incredibly important to meet people where they are by not allowing our own stereotypes, biases, or beliefs impact the other person’s actions/decisions regarding their own identity.