Young Kids Seek Sex-Changing TreatmentsFebruary 21, 2012 No Comments
What happens when a child strongly identifies with a sex that doesn’t match their own body?
Zach Avery may have been born with boy parts but he knew he wanted to be a girl by the age of three. Although initially Zach can dress up as a girl without being betrayed by his “boyness,” puberty is inevitable. As Zach develops, he may wish to take more drastic measures to match outside to inside. This means sex-changing hormones and, usually after 18, undergoing surgery.
The truth is that kids are realizing at a young age that they want to live as a man or a woman and, despite ethical concerns, doctors are treating them more than ever before. Take an 8-year-old second-grader from Los Angeles, for example. She was born a girl but at only 18 months she confidently declared, “I a boy.”
The elephant in the room? “What if?” What if this 8-year-old has a change of heart and accepts her physicality — as is — later on?
Dr. Norman Spack, director of one of the nation’s first gender identity medical clinics at Children’s Hospital Boston, says that hormone treatments have “caused no complications in his patients” and are in fact reversible. While doctors must wait for emotional maturation before gender-reassignment surgery, he believes that sex-changing treatments are often necessary for the health of the child. If left untreated, the serious risks include depression, physical and verbal abuse, self-mutilation, and even suicide attempts.
Plus, the stats don’t lie. “Only 1 of the 97 opted out of permanent treatment” when they were old enough to make the decision, Spack said.
So why go through the pain of waiting when, deep down, a child just knows. Wouldn’t it be easier and healthier for the child to start the transition at a young age?
Obviously, each case should be assessed on an individual basis with the involvement and support of parents, doctors and psychiatrists. Refusing a child gender reassigning treatments that could greatly improve their life is wrong, yet making treatments too easily available is not the answer either.
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