Transgender Toddlers: The New Parenting

Before & after: "Mia" Lemay on the left, "Jacob" Lemay on the right.

Before & after: Female Ryland Whittington on the left, “male” Ryland Whittington on the right.

It started with Jazz Jennings, who, at 4 years old in 2004, was the youngest person ever diagnosed with “Gender Identity Disorder”, aka “Gender Dysphoria”, and began “transitioning” from a natural boy to a transgendered female at age 6. Now on puberty blockers as s/he enters adolescence, Jennings gives speeches across the nation, has been featured in several news articles, and now has, uhh, its own reality TV show.

Ryland W

Ryland Whittington’s parents

As Jennings becomes a celebrity, we see others following in the same path, such as Ryland Whittington, who has begun transitioning at 4 years old. “Gender is between the ears, its in your brain. Sex is anatomy, it’s between your legs. They’re two very different things” says Darlene Tando, a gender therapist. “In really simple terms, being transgender is having the body of one gender, and the brain, or the mind, or the spirit of the opposite gender.”

Mimi and Joe Lemay’s son, Jacob, was originally born Mia Lemay. But they also began transitioning when their daughter-son was 4 years old. “Consistence, persistence, insistence” says Mimi, “Those are the hallmarks of a possibly transgender child…A mother’s heart knows when her child is suffering.” Pediatrician Michelle Forcier says “It’s not a fad or a phase” and also recommends that families make the transition at an early age, says it’s riskier to wait and that “the biggest harm is to do nothing.”

"Jacob" Lembay's parent's, Joe and Mimi

“Jacob” Lemay’s parent’s, Joe and Mimi

It’s hard to fault a young child in all of this, after all, they are just young children. They want what they want and they want it NOW! Sort of like extra ice cream, that new Lego set, a puppy… The real question lies with the parents. Who on earth would let their 4 year old make such a life altering decision? I liked Transformers and G.I. Joe when I was 6. By the time I was 10, I didn’t care so much and preferred to play Little League ball. By the time I was 13, I didn’t care so much about Little League and wanted a guitar instead. You see where this is going.

It will be interesting to see where these kids are in 5, 10, or 15 years. Will they, and the parents, regret these transformations? If Ryland and Jacob change their minds at some point, after all the hardships in school and their social lives, will they hold a grudge against their parents for allowing this to happen? When they reach 20, and they had puberty-less teenage years, will they want to change to change back and have to endure more psychological trauma and regret?

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