The Gender Creative Child by Diane Ehrensaft & Norman Spack

The Gender Creative Child by Diane Ehrensaft & Norman Spack

Author:Diane Ehrensaft & Norman Spack
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Publisher: The Experiment
Published: 2016-05-31T04:00:00+00:00

Through the Maze: Ally, Advocate, Ambassador

As parents negotiate the maze with a gender creative child, they will encounter a whole lot of people along the paths—their other children, if they have them, their own parents, their extended family, their school, their places of worship, and so forth. This inevitably puts them in the position of ally, advocate, and ambassador.

To be a gender-accepting parent is to watch your child’s back, both out in the world and at home. Becoming ally, advocate, and ambassador means being able to take a position of authority. So, it is time for us to amend our dictum, “It is not for us to say, but for the children to tell.” What I have learned as a gender specialist: Yes, it is important to listen to the children, but their parents are also our best experts. When parents have questions, concerns, doubts, maybe even flat-out objections to the gender path their child is embarking on, I do not dismiss these as evidence of their gender ghosts at work. These parents may have something very important to tell me, and I want to listen to them, too. For example, recently I reviewed a letter of support from a community therapist endorsing hormone replacement therapy for her teen patient. But I noticed in the letter that reference was made to the mother’s having some concerns about the permanence of her teen’s cross-gender identity. That, along with other information in the letter that concerned me, led me to recommend that we slow down and do some further assessment and consultation. I asked the parents to call me about my recommendation. When I spoke to the mother, she was immensely relieved and felt her voice was finally being heard. The therapist who had written the letter had not paid heed. This was the first step in this mother’s being given authorship and recognized as an ally for her child; and at the end of the day, the additional assessment proved her right. Her daughter was still in the throes of exploration rather than affirmation, and now her mother could advocate for her as such.

Parenting can easily become a delicate affair. We want to do our best. We worry we aren’t. To rear a gender creative child in a less-than-gender-accepting world stretches the role of the parent: That parent will need fortifications to go out and be the child’s ally, advocate, and ambassador. I learned this one day at our gender clinic when I wondered with the parents of a young child how we could be of help to them. They seemed to have a healthy, happy gender fluid child, and they both impressed me with their empathic and joyful relationship with Gwendolyn, their child, who was way too young to be considered for puberty blockers or hormones. I couldn’t think of what we could have to offer this family at that time that it didn’t already possess. Yet the parents were quick on the uptake: “We came here because of our parents.


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