A 6-year-old boy from Texas is caught in two wars—one between separated and feuding parents, and another between changing concepts in psychology.
James, biologically male, is allegedly forced to wear girls clothes when in the custody of his mother. His mother has even enrolled him in the first grade under the name “Luna.” His mother has insisted that he dress like a girl since he was 3 years old.
When James is in the custody of his father, he is asked to choose what clothes he prefers. And he invariably chooses boy’s clothing.
James’ mother took her son to a female gender transition therapist when he was younger. The therapist, who specializes in helping children live with a sexual identity different from their physical genders, diagnosed James with gender dysphoria. Children with this syndrome persistently and constantly identify themselves as the opposite gender.
However, friends of the family told Walt Heyer in a publication for the Federalist that James only identifies as a girl when his mother is present. When James is with his father, he consistently identifies as a boy.
Friends of the family who know James do not see feminine tendencies.
Sarah Scott, whose three sons are regular playmates of James and his fraternal twin brother, listed several instances when James has, unprovoked and uncoached, identified himself as a boy, and none when he has identified as a girl.
Another friend, Ellen Grigsby, who met James and his brother agrees. “They were both ‘all boy’ and were having a great time. Both boys were absolutely dressed as boys and behaving as boys.” she told the Federalist.
According to the Federalist, James’ mother has accused her ex-husband of child abuse for not treating James as a girl. The court has forbidden his father from discussing sexuality with James and prohibits his father from teaching James about any aspects of the Christian religion, which might reinforce James’ male identity.
James’ mother is also trying to get the court to force his father to pay for hormone treatments and possibly surgery, which could be irreversible for James.
James is in a vulnerable situation.
At his age, as a child eager to please his parents, unsure of anything about life, and always seeking both knowledge and guidance, James could easily be influenced to act in many ways that are not authentic to him.
It is even possible that James could be conditioned to behave in ways that will make him feel uncomfortable in the future.
In addition to possible surgery, James’ mother plans to put him on puberty-suppression drugs at the age of 8 to stop his body from growing into manhood. James’ natural impulses would be suppressed to “help” him conform to a diagnosis that may be premature at the very least.
Heyer said he himself was a victim of an overzealous attempt to make him live as other than his physical gender. Heyer’s grandmother spent two-and-a-half years dressing him as a girl.
Heyer knows firsthand that not all children behave in accordance with strict gender roles at certain ages. Any number of pressures might cause a child to exhibit behaviors or to self-identify as the other or both genders.
While there are some people who may feel like they are men in women’s bodies and vice versa, there are many more children who are trying to navigate a world warped by prejudices, misunderstandings, and even the instability of their own parents and medical professionals who hold certain views on gender.
Forcing a child into the wrong role could cause irremediable damage.
A Not Unusual Tale
This specific situation represents a recent trend that has been causing psychologists to rethink sexual identity.
An article in the July/August issue of The Atlantic magazine addressed the issue at length.
Initially, the idea of gender dysphoria was considered to be a mental illness in the community of psychologists, and gender roles were deemed to be determined by biology.
As time progressed and society, in general, grew more comfortable with the varieties of sexual identity, the psychological community went to the opposite extreme. Doctors began assuming that any child who was not rigidly sexually binary was probably a candidate for sexual re-identification.
In came a generation of doctors who considered it their duty to help every questioning child transition. In their view, the old idea had been to suppress any urges that society did not recognize.
In a pendulum reversal, the new thinking is that it is the duty of parents and medical professionals to affirm, support, and advance the child’s transition.
The missing piece? The duty of the parents and professionals to examine the needs of the child.
As the mother of a misdiagnosed child put it, “Psychologists know that adolescence is fraught with uncertainty and identity searching, and this isn’t even acknowledged.”
That mother, who held a doctorate in pharmacology, was willing to help her 14-year-old daughter transition if that was best for her daughter. However, she wanted to make sure.
But it seems that “making sure” is not always an accepted medical practice with some health professionals.
Once the idea of transgender people became socially accepted, the possibility that a person could prematurely identify as a transgender was rejected.
Children may be taught to act the role of their non-physical gender, dress as the opposite gender, and in many cases, are given drugs to suppress puberty and prevent the body from developing naturally into a sexually mature person. Some even undergo body-altering surgery before they reach physical or legal maturity.
Unfortunately, some doctors do not consider the living situations of each child patient—or the fact that children are constantly, radically changing, and what a child feels and thinks one day might be reversed by the next day.
As time has progressed, it seems that some doctors are beginning to see that errors have been made with medical interventions regarding a child’s sexuality.
In some cases, children who are not sexually dysphoric are trying to transition back to their biological sex as adults, and are often finding that drugs, hormone treatments, and, in some cases, surgery have made their gender change irreversible.
The children who were misdiagnosed are now stuck in the body of a mixed-gender adult—women with deep voices and facial hair, and men with breasts.
These doctors were seeing that in many children, their identities were changing constantly, sometimes in reaction to family and social stresses. They often did not know clearly what was causing their feelings to change.
There have also been many cases of children who were reacting to stress and confusion, or even to mental illness, and were being funneled into gender transition programs when they might have needed treatment for depression or autism, or just good counseling about the trials of growing up in a fractured family.
6 Is Too Young
In the case of James, his mother decided when he was only 3 that he was a girl, and she began treating him that way.
At 3, a child is years from sexual maturity and equally as far from forming a stable personality. James would not have been able to fully understand what it means to be a transgender adult.
Given James’ divided home life and his desire to please his parents, it would have been very difficult for anyone to be certain they understood what he was really feeling on the inside—and that whatever he was feeling at any one particular point in time was not guaranteed to change the next day.
Since his ex-wife decided to take legal action, James’ father has set up a website called “Save James” in order to help him find experts who can help him fight for his son’s right to choose to grow up naturally.
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