Gender Identity Disorder (GID) is the term used for people who are born feeling as though they are trapped in the body of the wrong sex, i.e. a man trapped in a woman’s body or vice versa. The history and controversy surrounding the disorder are one thing that I am not here to discuss – I do believe that there are people who feel as though they were born into the wrong body. This feeling is just as real and true to them as the feeling I have that I am a woman. I just happen to be in a woman’s body. I do not judge, and I do not think it is fake. I am grateful that I have never been in a position where I felt “wrong” in that way.
I have always supported those who wanted a sex change, I believed that it shouldn’t be such an arduous process, and I saw no reason that children who felt that way shouldn’t be allowed to start hormone treatments pre-puberty. If a person can know their sexuality before the start of puberty I definitely couldn’t see a reason they couldn’t know their gender.
So, what changed for me? I recently read two lovely articles about parents supporting their young children whom the parents believe had gender identity disorder. These are parents who let their children dress how they want and change their names, even talked about hormones. I then made what is normally a mistake, and read the comments. Surprisingly, many were good, and even more surprisingly the few that made negative comments were not solely trying to be inflammatory. A couple of male commenters talked about how they’d asked to wear dresses as young children, and they’d talked about not liking being boys. They say that it was just something that related to clothing and toys, not an internal feeling.
This all got me thinking about gender roles in society. We are taught that girls wear dresses and boys wear pants; girls play with barbies and boys play with trucks; girls like pink and boys like blue. What about the boys who like barbies and pink and dresses? What if that’s all it is? These are straight, cis-gendered boys who happen to like “girly” things. Suddenly they find themselves teased, their parents suggest different toys and they think “if only I were a girl, then I could do this without a problem”, and then “I want to be a girl”. I remember being young and the boys and girls in the class were split into two different groups to play sports. I wanted to play what the boys played and I thought “I wish I were a boy”. Imagine being a little boy and liking things, and then being told that those are girls things, and that’s what girls do. All of a sudden you realize if you were a girl there would be no problem. This isn’t a case of true Gender Identity Disordered person — this is a problem with gender roles and society. Even in the cases where a child’s parents are open-minded and easygoing you can’t miss the gender “rules”.
I am not saying that there are not children who have Gender Identity Disorder, and I’m not saying they shouldn’t be treated as what they feel. I just suddenly had a concern about those children who are saying they are girls/boys when maybe it’s not true Gender Identity Disorder, and in reality it’s a symptom of society’s rules. It is a real concern to think about, and sadly the cases of children whose parents thought they had GID, but after they reach puberty decide they didn’t, are going to make things so much harder for those who truly have the disorder.
It is something that should be considered, and once again it seems like the only true solution would involve changing society, so that might take a while!