In this era, there is a great deal of controversy over whether or not kids should be able to choose if they want to be a boy or a girl regardless of how they were born. Are parents who do not let their kids choose overly controlling and suppressing what their child wants to be? Are parents who let their kids choose their gender causing identity confusion resulting in mental health issues later in life?
Many individuals who are transgender adults argue that they knew they wanted to be the opposite sex from the time they were just toddlers. In these cases, there are many questions to be asked. Did their parents let them choose? Was there any kind of abuse or neglect? Did the parents encourage the child to be the opposite sex through Munchausen by proxy syndrome? Did the parents fail to guide and teach their child to accept the gender they were born?
How can a child whose brain is still in the developmental stages determine whether they are male or female? There are children who may not want to play with gender specific toys or dress like society envisions for a male or female, but does that mean that they want to be the opposite sex? Does a child have the mental capacity to know exactly what being a girl or boy means?
People are born either male or female based on their reproductive organs and recent studies have shown that sex hormones begin to apply their influence during development of the fetus. Israeli researchers that examined male and female brains at just 26 weeks of the developing fetus found distinct differences. Read more about how male and female brains differ here.
Therefore, babies who are born male or female not only have different reproductive organs but they also have different brains and hormones unique to their sex. So how could a child who is born either male or female have the mind of the opposite sex?
People who feel like they are in the wrong body and should be the opposite sex are thought to have Gender Identity Disorder. The exact cause of this disorder is unknown; however, there are several theories that suggest it may be caused by genetic (chromosomal) abnormalities, hormone imbalances during fetal and childhood development, defects in normal human bonding and child rearing, or a combination of these factors.
In the event that there are genetic abnormalities and/or hormone imbalances, a child may rightly question their sex. If this is the case, parents should be able to get their child tested and get proof that these are the reasons their child feels like the opposite sex. If there are abnormalities and imbalances, with the medical advancements now, there should be treatment available that can physically help the child and prevent a lifetime of confusion and other mental health problems. In the other circumstances, it ultimately lies in how the child is raised.
Parents are expected to teach and guide their children so they can live a happy, successful and fulfilling life. Not all children are the same so it is expected for children to play, dress and act individually. Society does put unreasonable expectations on people, especially children, but that does not mean it is okay for a child not to accept how they were born. Parents can let their child be themselves at the same time as teaching them to accept that they are male or female.
Children should not have to make such a serious decision at such a young age. A child’s mind is easily influenced because it is still developing, therefore, parents, being the people children often follow, should guide their child in the right direction with patience, love and understanding.