Teen Transitions

My 17 yr old child told us about a year ago that he/she is transgender and now wants to start hormones. He has been to a psychologist in Grand Rapids, Mi once who says he is a typical transgender. I want to let him do it, but it scares me, his father would like him to way until he is 18. (10 months away). What should we do?


Call me old-fashioned, but I wouldn’t encourage a teenager to get a tattoo, let alone endorse taking hormones to begin a gender transition.

A 17 year old is still transitioning from being a child to being an adult. I think that’s enough of a transition.  As adults it’s our responsibility to slow teenagers down in their quest to make life-altering decisions.

That’s not to say that I don’t think teens know who they are and what they want.  I often recall with frustration the extent to which adults in my life minimized my feelings, my relationships and my desires during my teenage years.  If mine were ‘stages,’ it’s been decades of being in the same stage… My point is, your child may very well be transgendered and in 5 years may decide to begin hormone therapy, but first, I’d hope he/she is in psychotherapy, intensely, with someone who knows what it means to be transgender.  You mentioned a psychologist who he/she saw.  That should be present tense, and not because there is something wrong with him/her, but because anyone who verbalizes what your child has verbalized deserves to have assistance sorting through and processing their feelings, which, by the way, can change with age.

There are many stories of individuals who transition young in life only to determine later in life that they made a mistake.  One could argue that we run that risk in making any life decisions, but the odds of wanting to back-peddle diminish when we make those decisions as mature adults.

Transitioning is serious business.  If your 17 year old wanted to make any adult decision such as picking a career or a life partner, you’d probably suggest waiting a few years before solidifying that choice.  This is no different, though I can imagine how confusing it must feel to be a parent who wants to support her child, so I’m taking the guess work out of it for you.  Get your child into therapy.  Have your child live life as a female for an extended period of time and then you can be Super Mom who supports her child through a gender transition.