Guest post: Tell them they will be okay

Originally a comment by Arcadia on Rated inadequate.

I get why it’s hard to suddenly come up with a large number of trained specialists to deal with a condition growing patient numbers by over 1000%, not to mention that apparently there is no specific training to deal with this, but more experimental guesswork and common or accepted practice.

What I don’t get is the implication that features in all these articles that, if the distressed child can’t get the appointment with the so-called specialists, that nothing else can or should be done.

If I needed a hip replacement, and couldn’t get an available surgeon, I think I’m better off waiting, even in pain, rather than turning to a dentist to either attempt the surgery or prescribe medication to help me.

But attempting to ease the distress of confused children is not an exclusive specialist skill that only gender clinicians have. It’s what counsellors, child psychologists and psychiatrists and support groups do. Heck, it’s what teachers, social workers and parents do.

Telling a child that their body won’t limit their presentation choices, mannerisms, career options or hobbies. That it is impossible to be born in the wrong body – their body is perfect and functioning exactly as it should. That lots of people hate their bodies for lots of reasons but that hatred can be overcome. That puberty is not only normal and natural, it is essential for growing children into adults. That “being who you are” is what you’re already doing – having surgery and artificial hormones would be the opposite. Ground them in reality with what cannot change, and that is biological sex. Tell them they can rely on that. Tell them they can also rely on the support and love of their family.

So get those kids some counsellors and advise their families and schools on how to be actually supportive, and that means affirming that yes, I can see you feel bad, but you will be okay. Not “affirming” that the child can become the opposite sex (or no sex) if they want.

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