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Wedding Woes

Let your son take the lead.

Dear Prudence,

I have two kids. My oldest, a middle-schooler, is transgender and has been living as a boy since kindergarten. My youngest, who is in elementary school, was adopted into our family after my oldest transitioned. We never sat her down to explain her brother’s gender identity to her, and I don’t believe they have discussed it among themselves. I don’t know if or when to talk to her about this. I have let my son take the lead on who he wants to tell outside the family, but what about inside the family?

—Daughter in the Dark

Re: Let your son take the lead.

  • Still let him take the lead, but depending on their relationship they might just find the time/figure it out on their own. 
    ahoyweddingkimmiinthemitten
  • Unless the middle schooler is on hormones, it's going to be obvious pretty soon...with boobs and tampons in the bathroom. I would probably have a chat with him about broaching the subject with the adopted daughter and then let him decide how to handle it.
    *********************************************************************************

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    short+sassy
  • This is a tough one!  On the one hand, I don't think it should be a secret within the family as the daughter starts getting old enough to notice/ask questions.  Because I could see the daughter feeling "lied to/betrayed", if she asks questions and isn't told the truth, and then finds out later.

    But, on the other hand, children aren't exactly known for their discretion.  It seems like the son doesn't necessarily want his transgender identity to be common knowledge.  And I could definitely see the daughter being "sworn to secrecy".  But then tells her BFF and swears him/her to secrecy.  And then the BFF tells someone else and swears them to secrecy.  Because that is the kind of thing that kids do!

    Either way, I think the LW needs to start with a discussion with her son.  It might be a totally moot point!  She even implies that it's possible her son has already told his sister.  

    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • 6fsn6fsn member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    This needs to be a question for a therapist.  I get wanting to take the son's lead, but middle schoolers aren't always the best at understanding nuances of a family.  I'd recommend discussions with a specialist but without daughter to figure out a path.
    VarunaTTShesSoCold
  • Excellent point @VarunaTT.   When a friend announced that their child was transgender she (the friend) said that in addition to having a counselor for their son, she and her husband ALSO had one.    
    MissKittyDanger
  • VarunaTT said:
    I had to think about this for awhile.  It's hard, b/c I'm a firm supporter that kids know their gender; there's an interview that always sticks with me where someone asks, "Is a child old enough to make a decision about their gender?" and the response was, "They're old enough to decide to kill themselves when their gender is denied."  So I support and believe that these kids needs to be supported and allowed to make hard decisions themselves.  So, son definitely needs to have input on what he is comfortable with new sibling knowing.  I also think the parents really do need to start educating the new sibling, whether son wants it to be specifically about him or just the introduction of the concept of transgender in general.  I don't think son has a right to completely deny any education/knowledge that parents want to impart to new sibling.  I also think it needs to be run through a family therapist, for input into age appropriate comments and explanations to be made to new sibling. 

    I hope the parents have a support system  of other parents of transgender children, but writing in to Prudie makes me think they don't.  They need to find a PFLAG or other type of support groups, IRL or online, as fast as possible.
    I've seen that. Probably the most powerful response I've ever heard/seen. Also the most heartbreaking :(
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  • cupcait927cupcait927 Western NY wine country member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    banana468 said:
    Excellent point @VarunaTT.   When a friend announced that their child was transgender she (the friend) said that in addition to having a counselor for their son, she and her husband ALSO had one.    
    Ditto to the counselor. While not a child, my BIL came out as transgender two years ago and my in-laws are still struggling. It's not my place to suggest counseling to them but damn they could use it.
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    MissKittyDanger
  • banana468 said:
    Excellent point @VarunaTT.   When a friend announced that their child was transgender she (the friend) said that in addition to having a counselor for their son, she and her husband ALSO had one.    
    Ditto to the counselor. While not a child, my BIL came out as transgender two years ago and my in-laws are still struggling. It's not my place to suggest counseling to them but damn they could use it.
    If our child came out as transgender, I would want to look at a counselor for us - learn how to be supportive to their needs, understanding the changes, how to be there for them.
    Things you think you know but a professional could probably show a better way to be.
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