Meet Tammy. Tammy loves to wear dresses, play with dolls and is a seemingly happy 11-year-old. Tammy also happens to be a boy, whose birth name is Thomas. Thomas was adopted at the age of two and his parents, Pauline and Debra (yes, he has lesbian parents), noticed him identifying as a female from a very young age. At the tender age of seven, Thomas became severely depressed and threatened to mutilate his genitals. It was then he was diagnosed with gender identity disorder.
Gender identity Disorder is a controversial diagnosis in America. It is described as:
a conflict between a person's actual physical gender and the gender that person identifies himself or herself as. For example, a person identified as a boy may actually feel and act like a girl. The person experiences significant discomfort with the biological sex they were born.
Pauline and Debra sought help and decided to allow Tammy to be the person she is. “As soon as we let him put on a dress, his personality changed from a very sad kid who sat still, didn’t do much of anything, to a very happy little girl who was thrilled to be alive,” explains Pauline to CNN. She was describing the first stage of their son’s transformation--they gave him permission to dress as a girl.
Now, I know many people may add fuel to this fire and say since Tammy’s parents are gay, there must be some link. Well, let me put that to rest by stating that neither of Tammy’s adopted parents are transgender, and their other two children do not have gender identity disorder. They are two loving parents concerned with the well-being of their children.
“We have allowed Tammy to lead the way because we are not transgender,” they explain about their decision to support Tammy’s transformation. “And I do not think we completely understand it.”
The journey has taken Tammy to the point that she is at today. Now 11, Tammy has just finished her first month of hormone blockers to prevent the development of masculine features during puberty.
“When she is ready, she will be able to decide which way she is gonna go through puberty,” explains Debra. “She will either have female hormones or she will stop the hormone blockers and become a man.”
This is pretty deep stuff. I feel for this child, not because of who she is, but because of how society views the transgender community. Tackling this issue head-on, at such an early age could be overwhelming for any child, but compiling that with the less-than-accepting society that we have created for ourselves must keep her moms up at night. I would worry about what the hormones could do to her as she progresses down this road, yes, but I would worry more about how other children are going to view her. How will other parents view her? Even simple things like which bathroom she uses at school could cause her great stress and anxiety. Is she being bullied at school? Should they home-school her? I would be very worried about how the world will react as she matures.
Having said that, I give her moms a lot of credit. I wonder, in a way, is it better that Tammy has lesbian parents? Do you think they are more understanding of her situation, knowing how judgmental people can be to those viewed as “different”? Is it hard for us to look at ourselves and wonder why we do have such problems with people who just want to live their lives in an honest way? Is it because we are afraid of living our own?
This little girl’s struggle with self-acceptance will be lifelong, but it won’t be because she cannot accept who she is. It will be because society has a hard time with accepting who she is. We have a hard time with shades of grey. “Boys are boys.” “Girls are girls.” This mantra that has been beaten into our heads may need to shift to “We are who we are” if we are ever going to gain traction in understanding the transgender community and accepting them for who they are. At the end of the day, we are all just people who want to be loved and accepted like everyone else.
twoday magazine knows this is a controversial topic and is interested in hearing your thoughts. All views are welcome, but please be sensitive in your language and thoughtful in your opinions.