I had an appointment tonight with the psychiatrist. It’s not often I leave the house at night,so that in itself was a bit exciting! I’d got Iz off to sleep in record time, infact the whole evening, culminating in Izzy’s gentle snores, was one of my finest achievements enabling me to be out of the house and down to town by 630!
Anyway, I had some questions for The Doctor:
Q. Are the suicide statistics for transgender people for those who are unsupported or just in general? (various research papers quote them between 42 and 50%)
A. The suicide statistics for transgender people who have not been supported, many of whom develop serious mental illnesses, are very high.
For those who are supported and remain in a supportive enviroment the statistics drop back to cisgender – denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex; not transgender levels.
But the statistics leap again for those transgender people who find themselves suddenly in an unsupportive environment such as a new school or work place.
Q. I’ve read that 80% of children who experience gender fluidity – Gender fluid is a gender identity which refers to a gender which varies over time. A gender fluid person may at any time identify as male, female, neutrois, or any other non-binary identity, or some combination of identities.) do not carry on to be transgender adults.
A. Between the ages of 4 and 10 it is common for children to be gender fluid. They are experimenting, working out who they are. These children make up most of the 80% who resolve that question and go on to be hetrosexual, gay or lesbian. Izzy probably falls in to the other 20%, as a child who is not questioning her gender but is clear that it is not the one she was assigned at birth, she is probably going to carry on as transgender in to adulthood. But, there is no hard and fast rule, it’s possible she may change her mind and decide she wants to be male again.
Q. Is there anything we’re not doing that we should be doing?
A. No. Carry on as you are, your job now is to protect Izzy from those who are unable to support her transition because not to do so will impact on Izzy’s mental well being. It’s also important not to back Izzy in to a corner – it doesn’t matter which gender she identifies with, she can change her mind and go back to being a boy, she can live her days out as a girl or she can exist anywhere in between.
Q. Is it true the waiting list for sex change operations is 37 years? And that the only surgeon who performed those operations is now retired?
A. No. It is more like 70 years. And yes there is no qualified surgeon in this country.
Q. So what the Dickens do they do?
A. There’s a state of the art hospital in Thailand which specializes in gender reassignment. It costs about $10000 to get boobs. A lot of transgender M-W don’t bother with the bottom half, they just keep that hidden. Others go to Australia or the States.
Q. A couple of family members are really concerned about us making this decision for Izzy at such a young age.
A. The only decision you’ve made is to allow your child to live as the gender she currently identifies with. Nothing else has changed. Furthermore social transition can be reversed. The most important thing now is to protect your child from negative influences.
The Doctor then told me about his experience in transgender issues:
Three days a week he works for the area health board on a team that supports youth with serious mental health issues. The other two days (he works one night a week at the private practice we visit him through) he works with transgender yourh and their families supporting them through blockers (these delay the onset of puberty which give the children the time to make an informed decision) and hormone treatments (male to female, female to male) and the non-medical options. He is on the board of medical professionals who review this country’s policies surrounding medical intervention and best practice for mental health care/support of transgender youth.
He’s a BLIMMIN EXPERT in a field where few have depth of experience or training!
How we ended up with, I suspect, this country’s leading expert in transgender care, is a blog worth writing. But not tonight.