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  1. #1
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    Default Sort-of Spinoff: Possibly Transgender Child (extended family)

    Very sticky family situation here, though thankfully I don't see my extended family all that often.

    My cousin's child, who is now about 9 years old was born anatomically male. Apparently a few years ago "Child" decided that God made a mistake, and she was really a girl, rearranged the letters in her name to form a girl's name, started asking to grow her hair long, wear dresses and play with dolls. And she's sure that it's not just that she wants to do stereotypically girly things, that she IS a girl.

    Personally, I'm totally okay with that. Doesn't matter one whit to me. The rest of the family, though... Ouch.

    Child's immediate family insists that he is a male, and he must not say such awful things, and boys must all have short hair and wear boy clothing and play with boy toys. The few family members who know about his so-called "transgressions" have been forbidden to so much as mention it to Child's grandfather (my uncle).

    My mother feels as though the stress of being "different" will be harder on Child than conformity, but from what I've been reading, that just simply isn't the case most of the time. Child is also very sullen and withdrawn, but I'm not sure how much of that is personality, and how much of it is the gender identity issue.

    DH and I are planning on visiting that branch of the family at Thanksgiving, and I totally feel like if they also decide to come (they live in the area we're travelling to) I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. I'd like to respect Child's wishes, but it sounds like that's totally taboo with the rest of the family, and I'm not even supposed to know what's going on.

    Any suggestions?
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
    -Edward Hoagland



  2. #2
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    You sound like a great ally for this child.

    If at all possible, make some time to speak to her. It doesn't have to be anything complicated or intense or cause a scene. Just pull her aside and say "Hey, I've heard a little bit about what you've been going through, and if you ever need someone to talk to privately, here's my email and my cell. Anytime!"

    It sounds like you are too far away to be much help in person, but it would be remarkably kind of you to offer yourself as a removed option to talk to, just for some reassurance that she is not wrong in her desires. Any 10 year old can send an email nowadays, or pick up the phone to call, and even if she never takes you up on it, knowing that you're out there and ready to listen will be a gigantic dose of support that it sounds like she is not otherwise getting.


    9 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
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    I would treat that side of the family the same way I would treat a horse that is acting up a bit. Ignore it and keep on doing what you know you need to do.

    Pretend like you don't know anything. Treat this child just like you would any of your other nieces and nephews. Gender doesn't even need to come into the picture. You can ask the child what kind of activities they are doing these days, maybe take them out for a fun outing with just you and your husband. Have a good time and boost their self-image.

    If the child makes a comment about how his/her name is really something else you can say oh, and then move on to something else. If the child asks you your opinion on something related to this (which I doubt they would) then say, that's a very good question. Let me think about that for a bit. Then move on to something else.


    Although you may feel strongly about how the child should be raised, I think you should stay out of it, at least in front of the child. Focus on making them feel good about themselves. That will be productive, while anything that focuses on gender is just going to fuel the fire with the family.


    5 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
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    Oct. 12, 2009
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    Ummmmm... yeah. That young of a child and you are not immediate family? Stay out of it. If you feel that you absolutely must do something you can speak to the parents and give them your opinion. Going directly to a 9/ 10 year old and counseling them on sexual matters without (or against) the parents? Big trouble.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
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    Also consider that you may not have the story right, or quite the whole story.
    I would not be assuming anything about the situation and contacting the kid about any other than normal family stuff.

    That sounds like goofy family gossip and hard to know what is really going on, if anything.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
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    Apr. 9, 2012
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    Just be nice to the kid and make sure the kid feels included in the events. I would not address it specifically unless the kid mentions in. (What if you mentioned it and the kid freaks because of people gossiping?) And then it's your job to be supportive and avoid picking sides. Be kind, maybe ask if they want to be friends on FB. Just show you care without confronting the parents or child. Who knows what kind of support this kid will need later? Just knowing you care will help.
    Born under a rock and owned by beasts!



  7. #7
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    Jul. 22, 2012
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    CA
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoForAGallop View Post
    You sound like a great ally for this child.

    If at all possible, make some time to speak to her. It doesn't have to be anything complicated or intense or cause a scene. Just pull her aside and say "Hey, I've heard a little bit about what you've been going through, and if you ever need someone to talk to privately, here's my email and my cell. Anytime!"

    It sounds like you are too far away to be much help in person, but it would be remarkably kind of you to offer yourself as a removed option to talk to, just for some reassurance that she is not wrong in her desires. Any 10 year old can send an email nowadays, or pick up the phone to call, and even if she never takes you up on it, knowing that you're out there and ready to listen will be a gigantic dose of support that it sounds like she is not otherwise getting.
    Just offer that you're there. No need to make it an issue with extended family, etc. Although for some the kneejerk reaction is MYOB, this can fast turn into an issue of depression, self harm, and suicide in a few years. There's not much you can do, other than provide said child with a potential outlet, to take you up on or not.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
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    I'm certainly not planning on causing a scene or chewing anyone out or anything like that. The thought of using the wrong name or gender pronouns makes me feel very conflicted though. Especially knowing how upset my son gets when people call him a girl. He's very much a boy, secure in his gender identity, but he wanted long hair, and I told him he could grow his hair as long as he wanted as long as he took care of it. And he's good at taking care of it, so it's pretty long, which confuses a lot of people.

    Normally if a kid told me "I'm <insert random name/title/whatever>" I'd play along even if it was something completely ridiculous like Squeegles the Wonderpig, but I'm not sure what will happen if that comes up and I go along with Child's female name. Though I suppose I could deflect by having the kids come up with silly secret superhero names. My son is 8, so close to the same age, and he loves that one. And my secret superhero identity (courtesy of my son) is "Sir Poopermish the Defecator" I'm a woman, so clearly our superhero names don't have to match our genders.

    And if I play my cards right, I *might* be able to get through a family gathering without using names or gender pronouns at all.

    Thanks GoForAGallop. I'd like to be as supportive and available as possible, but ako does have a good point about the kid possibly being mortified if I brought it up (especially given all the parental shaming), so maybe I'll try to be positive and supportive in a more general sense unless Child mentions it to me.
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
    -Edward Hoagland


    1 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by big_red_ottb View Post
    Just offer that you're there. No need to make it an issue with extended family, etc. Although for some the kneejerk reaction is MYOB, this can fast turn into an issue of depression, self harm, and suicide in a few years. There's not much you can do, other than provide said child with a potential outlet, to take you up on or not.
    That's probably my biggest concern. I've heard that some children in these situations can become very depressed and suicidal, or attempt to forcibly rectify the problem by mutilating their own genitals, and I'd really hate for something like that to happen
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
    -Edward Hoagland



  10. #10
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    Jan. 4, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayside View Post
    I'm certainly not planning on causing a scene or chewing anyone out or anything like that. The thought of using the wrong name or gender pronouns makes me feel very conflicted though. Especially knowing how upset my son gets when people call him a girl. He's very much a boy, secure in his gender identity, but he wanted long hair, and I told him he could grow his hair as long as he wanted as long as he took care of it. And he's good at taking care of it, so it's pretty long, which confuses a lot of people.

    Normally if a kid told me "I'm <insert random name/title/whatever>" I'd play along even if it was something completely ridiculous like Squeegles the Wonderpig, but I'm not sure what will happen if that comes up and I go along with Child's female name. Though I suppose I could deflect by having the kids come up with silly secret superhero names. My son is 8, so close to the same age, and he loves that one. And my secret superhero identity (courtesy of my son) is "Sir Poopermish the Defecator" I'm a woman, so clearly our superhero names don't have to match our genders.

    And if I play my cards right, I *might* be able to get through a family gathering without using names or gender pronouns at all.

    Thanks GoForAGallop. I'd like to be as supportive and available as possible, but ako does have a good point about the kid possibly being mortified if I brought it up (especially given all the parental shaming), so maybe I'll try to be positive and supportive in a more general sense unless Child mentions it to me.
    If you want to get involved, no more than you know for what you say it would be hard to find a way without being obvious.

    Maybe you could extend the offer of help if any of the kids there needed someone some time, in general, to several of those kids, maybe also siblings of that kid if any.

    This way that offer would not look like you were picking that one kid out for that offer.



  11. #11
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    I must be crazy because I would talk to the parents. I'd ask if it was true & if yes, I'd ask if they wanted to raise a daughter or bury a son because those are their options.

    I would also let the child know generally that if they ever needed to talk I'd be there for them.
    Not all who wander are lost.

    Ralando II


    14 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by headsupheelsdown View Post
    Ummmmm... yeah. That young of a child and you are not immediate family? Stay out of it. If you feel that you absolutely must do something you can speak to the parents and give them your opinion. Going directly to a 9/ 10 year old and counseling them on sexual matters without (or against) the parents? Big trouble.

    A few years ago I was babysitting my sister's kids and something somewhat related to this came up. I had taken both kids to the playground and when we got back I put my little nephew in the tub for a bath. My niece said to me: "Why does my brother have one of those?". Quick as a wink I said: "You know, that is a very good question. Why don't you ask your mom about it? I bet she knows".

    The point was to acknowledge what my niece said but leave the details to my sister. It's not my business to decide when and how to explain that kind of stuff.

    We later had a good laugh when my sister came home and I said "Um...I think it's time to have a talk with the older one."


    1 members found this post helpful.

  13. #13
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    Feb. 1, 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by SnicklefritzG View Post
    I would treat that side of the family the same way I would treat a horse that is acting up a bit. Ignore it and keep on doing what you know you need to do.

    Pretend like you don't know anything. Treat this child just like you would any of your other nieces and nephews. Gender doesn't even need to come into the picture. You can ask the child what kind of activities they are doing these days, maybe take them out for a fun outing with just you and your husband. Have a good time and boost their self-image.

    If the child makes a comment about how his/her name is really something else you can say oh, and then move on to something else. If the child asks you your opinion on something related to this (which I doubt they would) then say, that's a very good question. Let me think about that for a bit. Then move on to something else.


    Although you may feel strongly about how the child should be raised, I think you should stay out of it, at least in front of the child. Focus on making them feel good about themselves. That will be productive, while anything that focuses on gender is just going to fuel the fire with the family.
    I would go with this, exactly. It keeps you out of the family's business, but you won't be treating the child any different than you would another child that is there.
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  14. #14
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    People like you, OP are who help kids like your niece from killing themselves at 25. If you don't stand up for her, it could shape her future.
    Think about how impactful it is for a child to grow up feeling unloved, or outcast, or "damaged"... Now multiply that times 10, and I think that's getting closer to what gender identity must be like for these kids. You are in a position to help change that.
    If I were in your shoes, I'd stand up for the kid at the expense of social consequences with the rest of the family.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble


    13 members found this post helpful.

  15. #15
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    Could NOT agree more with Petstorejunkie. You've GOT to help her.
    What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!



  16. #16
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    May. 30, 2006
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    The child is 9 years-od and I would stay away from the issue. It doesn't need to be a topic of conversation. Nevertheless, I would always err on the side of being LGBT friendly and really just human being friendly. If that means pronoun choice or just simple acknowledgement that she is an okay person, then whatever. Choose the child.

    I find sweeping it under the rug or ignoring the child to be personally offensive.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by frisky View Post
    The child is 9 years-od and I would stay away from the issue. It doesn't need to be a topic of conversation. Nevertheless, I would always err on the side of being LGBT friendly and really just human being friendly. If that means pronoun choice or just simple acknowledgement that she is an okay person, then whatever. Choose the child.

    I find sweeping it under the rug or ignoring the child to be personally offensive.
    Of course do help if you can and find a way without making the situation worse.

    Do be sure first that you have your ducks in a row, that the family gossip is right.
    Don't step in and then find out there was nothing to that but a rumor without substance.



  18. #18
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    I'd be okay with dealing with the consequences of speaking out if I thought it would make a difference. But honestly, I'm already the weirdo liberal hippie relative that no one listens to, so I'm not sure anything I say has even a remote possibility of making a positive difference.

    Maybe when she's slightly older, and more able to come to decisions and make contact with people on her own. But if I start now, I'm rather concerned that it will make it even harder for Child to have any contact with me when she's a little bit older, and REALLY needs help. At 9, I'm pretty sure that most of her social contacts are parent-approved, and probably supervised to some extent. And if I start in with my "subversive" ways, then I can't see myself staying on the parent-approved contact list for very long.

    That being said, I also don't think I have it in me to say that I feel differently than I do if the topic does come up. Generally I don't bring up controversial things with my family, but if they come up in conversation, I'm honest about expressing what I think.
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
    -Edward Hoagland



  19. #19
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    Does the child have a first initial that could work as a nickname? Or leads to an easy gender neutral nickname, i.e., "C" or "CC" instead of "Cal" or Cassie"? That could remove the pressure of how to address the child without upsetting one party or another, and make it easier to include the child in conversations without having to worry about using the "incorrect" name.

    I wish you well in negotiating the situation in a way that leaves you feeling good about how you handled it.



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluey View Post
    Maybe you could extend the offer of help if any of the kids there needed someone some time, in general, to several of those kids, maybe also siblings of that kid if any.
    Sometimes when I visit we do take turns watching the kids in a group. And since I'm usually staying with my grandmother, it's common for everyone to gather there and then leave the children with us for a while. So that's a very distinct possibility. And since we're not currently all that close, it might be wise to cultivate the "nice aunt" relationship before things have a chance to really go south.
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
    -Edward Hoagland



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