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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So my 14 year old brother told my mother that he doesn't feel quite right with being a male. Apparently he hates his penis, feels like a girl trapped inside a boy's body, has tried on dresses before (without our knowledge), and says he has been experiencing these feelings since he was 10 years old. Again, I was not told directly by my brother, just through my mother since I'm usually keeper of the secrets within the family.
So I wonder what kind of advice there is of how to support him? I've read often about the happy stories of families accepting MtF surgery for their kid and often feel, "Awesome, go them!!! More people should be this open-minded and suportive!" Yet, when I know now that one of my own brothers feels this way, part of me wants him to be happy, and another part of me worries that maybe he is unsure of the ramifications of seriously considering gender realignment. I know it is not my place to brush this off as a 'phase'. There have been times in the past where he has struggled with depression, even admittedly slitting his wrists at one point and also leaving the question "How to commit suicide" typed into Google once. My father did his best to really empathize with him and I do think it helped him out of most of the really low points of his depression. However, I suppose now it's a little clearer of where some of his depression stemmed from.

Any parents, or people whom have gone through this, or generally supportive people, etc that can offer some insight? Were there some signs that me and my parents missed?
 

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Lindsay Weir, I have a degree in psych and spent some time in grad school and also did research but gender identity issue is not something I have much familiarity with.

However, I think this is probably too early to think about surgery or anything else dramatic and life changing like that. I think your brother needs to see a psychiatrist, to make sure there is nothing else going on with him.

People are still growing and their identity develops during their teens, your brother may or may not feel this way some years into the future.

This issue is quite complex and I think the best you guys can do, aside from getting him to see a doctor, is to be supportive of him as he struggles with this (and any other issue). The more open he is with his feelings about himself and is willing to convey that to you guys, the easier it will be to help him.

I once read about a teenage girl who talked about gender issues all the time and turns out she was not getting the attention and love she needed and this was her way of making her family notice her and worry about her. There have been others, on the other hand, who dealt with these feelings since their teens and it continued with great clarity as they got older and so they decided to do the surgery, after having spoken with therapists and people who helped them learn about transgender identity and the surgery and what it entails and what challenges lie ahead.

Based on this post, you sound like a mature caring person, so I think it is nice that your brother has someone like you in his life, and hopefully whatever results, he and the rest of the family try to stick together.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Lindsay Weir, I have a degree in psych and spent some time in grad school and also did research but gender identity issue is not something I have much familiarity with.

However, I think this is probably too early to think about surgery or anything else dramatic and life changing like that. I think your brother needs to see a psychiatrist, to make sure there is nothing else going on with him.

People are still growing and their identity develops during their teens, your brother may or may not feel this way some years into the future.

This issue is quite complex and I think the best you guys can do, aside from getting him to see a doctor, is to be supportive of him as he struggles with this (and any other issue). The more open he is with his feelings about himself and is willing to convey that to you guys, the easier it will be to help him.

I once read about a teenage girls who talked about gender stuff all the time and turns out she was not getting the attention and love she needed and this was her way of making her family notice her and worry about her. There have been others, on the other hand, who dealt with these feelings since their teens and it continued with great clarity as they got older and so they decided to do the surgery, after having spoken with therapists and people who helped them learn about transgender identity and the surgery and what it entails and what challenges lie ahead.

Based no this post, you sound like a mature caring person, so I think it is nice that your brother has someone like you in his life, and hopefully whatever results, he and the rest of the family try to stick together.
Thank you for this level-headed response!

Yeah, my biggest concern was him thinking about gender surgery so early on. I mean, I have read a few news stories of children much younger than him who did go through it 100%, and the kid was happy as well as the parents. However, it's such an unknown charted territory for me mainly because I have not met any one personally like this. Speaking realistically, no, our family definitely couldn't afford surgery like that, so I wouldn't think such thing would be serious consideration by my parents. But hypothetically speaking, I do worry that he could regret such a thing later on, with all the hormonal stuff that goes on, in and out, if hypothetically we did let him go through it.

It's also definitely another possibility that he doesn't feel he doesn't get enough attention. Within our busy family of five boys, including me, and also including a severe autistic brother, I can definitely understand if he felt attention shifts weren't equal. I feel as though we do all that we can to make sure everyone feels at ease, but it's a challenge indeed.
However, I suppose the smart thing to do in the near future is to let him a therapist. Him and my father seem to be the most similar in terms of how they were in their childhood, as I've never really experienced intense depression as my father or my little brother did, but I know my father nor my mother have quite the expertise in respect to his gender dysphoria.

Thank you as well for the encouraging words :)
 

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So my 14 year old brother told my mother that he doesn't feel quite right with being a male. Apparently he hates his penis, feels like a girl trapped inside a boy's body, has tried on dresses before (without our knowledge), and says he has been experiencing these feelings since he was 10 years old. Again, I was not told directly by my brother, just through my mother since I'm usually keeper of the secrets within the family.
So I wonder what kind of advice there is of how to support him? I've read often about the happy stories of families accepting MtF surgery for their kid and often feel, "Awesome, go them!!! More people should be this open-minded and suportive!" Yet, when I know now that one of my own brothers feels this way, part of me wants him to be happy, and another part of me worries that maybe he is unsure of the ramifications of seriously considering gender realignment. I know it is not my place to brush this off as a 'phase'. There have been times in the past where he has struggled with depression, even admittedly slitting his wrists at one point and also leaving the question "How to commit suicide" typed into Google once. My father did his best to really empathize with him and I do think it helped him out of most of the really low points of his depression. However, I suppose now it's a little clearer of where some of his depression stemmed from.

Any parents, or people whom have gone through this, or generally supportive people, etc that can offer some insight? Were there some signs that me and my parents missed?
If this has been going on for quite some time, I would suggest finding a gender therapist in your area, whether it's a psychologist or psychiatrist shouldn't matter all that much as long as they conform to the WPATH Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People. I'm not sure as to your locality, but the US has a relatively good smattering of them in each state.

Speaking as someone who is trans, I'd have to say that from what I know, what your sibling is experiencing is pretty typical. I remember feeling different when I was three or four years old but I didn't have the reference point or context to say that I was trans. When I was nine, it hit me. Puberty for trans kids can be a horrible time and thoughts of suicide are extremely common. If this is indeed the source if your sibling's depression, a psychiatrist is the best bet, in my opinion. Supporting your sibling is one of the best things you can do.

There are serious ramification to transitioning including bullying and discrimination. It helps if you're located in a more accepting area like New England or the west coast, but the south isn't that great from what I've heard and there is all the politics surround it as well. Losing friends and family are a possibility. When I came out to my family, I was disowned; I haven't talked to them in over a year. The pros and cons must be weighted and your sibling has to make a decision. Hopefully, your family will be supportive. Starting younger makes things much easier in the long run. I started in my mid twenties and I regret that I didn't start when I was thirteen, but you do what you can with what you have at the time.

Thank you for this level-headed response!

Yeah, my biggest concern was him thinking about gender surgery so early on. I mean, I have read a few news stories of children much younger than him who did go through it 100%, and the kid was happy as well as the parents. However, it's such an unknown charted territory for me mainly because I have not met any one personally like this. Speaking realistically, no, our family definitely couldn't afford surgery like that, so I wouldn't think such thing would be serious consideration by my parents. But hypothetically speaking, I do worry that he could regret such a thing later on, with all the hormonal stuff that goes on, in and out, if hypothetically we did let him go through it.

It's also definitely another possibility that he doesn't feel he doesn't get enough attention. Within our busy family of five boys, including me, and also including a severe autistic brother, I can definitely understand if he felt attention shifts weren't equal. I feel as though we do all that we can to make sure everyone feels at ease, but it's a challenge indeed.
However, I suppose the smart thing to do in the near future is to let him a therapist. Him and my father seem to be the most similar in terms of how they were in their childhood, as I've never really experienced intense depression as my father or my little brother did, but I know my father nor my mother have quite the expertise in respect to his gender dysphoria.

Thank you as well for the encouraging words :)
In most cases, surgery will not be performed on a minor, so you shouldn't worry about that.

I didn't tell my parents when I was younger because I knew it would have resulted in a backlash, but if you don't think it is a way of getting attention, a gender therapist is a must. If you have autism running in your family, it may be an indicator that it is, indeed, gender dysphoria. I know that Aspergers, which I have, and gender identity issues are often comorbid at an exceptionally high rate.

I'm here to answer questions for you if the need arises. I am more than happy to help you in this area.
 

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When I came out to my family, I was disowned
That's so sad. I know many parents don't react well to things like this (heck, people themselves often don't want to have gender issues either) at first but they usually come around. Or they should. They must know their child needs their support most now than ever.

I know that Aspergers, which I have, and gender identity issues are often comorbid at an exceptionally high rate.
That's interesting, I was not aware of it, and if this is indeed true, wonder why that would be.
 

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That's so sad. I know many parents don't react well to things like this (heck, people themselves often don't want to have gender issues either) at first but they usually come around. Or they should. They must know their child needs their support most now than ever.

That's interesting, I was not aware of it, and if this is indeed true, wonder why that would be.
I don't want to hijack the thread but a quick look through my collection of literature says it can be found in the research of Israel and Tarver (1997), Mukkades (2002), Williams, Allard and Lonnie (1996), Landen and Rasmussen (1997), and Gallucci, Hackerman, and Schmidt (2005).
 

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It's a process that is explored for a number of years before HRT or reassignment, generally.


My now FTM sibling started HRT at about 15 and first expressed gender dysphoria at around 10 or 11. l'm not sure what can be said, each person is different. l don't really believe that sharing personal information about my family member is going to be much more beneficial than what a person might take away from watching something similar on TV, so l don't do it often. Are there are any really specific questions you have?

A good support network, and with him especially that has meant local organizations and making friends with other trans people, but the family support is just as important.

He will be 18 this year and then l guess we'll see what happens as far as reassignment or top surgery, even though he's on HRT and has previously identified as male, recently he expresses he may only be genderqueer and not FTM. The hormones have already had some effect, needless to say, l'm not sure what direction that's going to go in.

l guess what l've learned is that keeping an open dialogue with him and everyone i the family helped all of us deal with the anxiety and find answers to questions as they arise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If this has been going on for quite some time, I would suggest finding a gender therapist in your area, whether it's a psychologist or psychiatrist shouldn't matter all that much as long as they conform to the WPATH Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People. I'm not sure as to your locality, but the US has a relatively good smattering of them in each state.
Wow, very helpful and the kind of stuff I was looking for! <3
After a quick look, it seems as though there's accessible psychologists in my state that are under the WPATH standards. So it's really cool to know such options are available.

Speaking as someone who is trans, I'd have to say that from what I know, what your sibling is experiencing is pretty typical. I remember feeling different when I was three or four years old but I didn't have the reference point or context to say that I was trans. When I was nine, it hit me. Puberty for trans kids can be a horrible time and thoughts of suicide are extremely common. If this is indeed the source if your sibling's depression, a psychiatrist is the best bet, in my opinion. Supporting your sibling is one of the best things you can do.
I can't imagine what goes on during that puberty phase for people experiencing such things and perhaps it really did impact my brother, as the cutting didn't start until 13 years old, last year. It certainly was scary, as I've never plunged that deep into depression, but really grateful my father served as an outlet for empathy. I did my best to be more engaging and normal, and so far, it seems like he's improved some, but I definitely see some internal frustration. I just never thought about him possibly going through gender dysphoria. We did many things together when we were younger, such as have pretend lightsaber fights, fan over certain movies, challenge each other to drawing 'competitions', etc. I never felt as though he was disconnected or different, but obviously, I know in our tweens and early teens, we bottle up things (sometimes more so than others).
Definitely will support him any way I can.

There are serious ramification to transitioning including bullying and discrimination. It helps if you're located in a more accepting area like New England or the west coast, but the south isn't that great from what I've heard and there is all the politics surround it as well. Losing friends and family are a possibility. When I came out to my family, I was disowned; I haven't talked to them in over a year. The pros and cons must be weighted and your sibling has to make a decision. Hopefully, your family will be supportive. Starting younger makes things much easier in the long run. I started in my mid twenties and I regret that I didn't start when I was thirteen, but you do what you can with what you have at the time.
Unfortunately, yeah, we live in the Southern part of the U.S.
I am very saddened to read that your family disowned you... in some way, I empathize since distant family relatives have withdrawn from my immediate family due to different beliefs and it's so surreal that at one point in your life, they were "family" but then later on drift away as complete strangers not to be seen for several years thus far. But I cannot imagine being disowned by immediate family members... and I really admire your courage to be yourself when others shamefully turn away.

In our case though, I couldn't see any of my parents or other siblings shunning my brother. My mother tends to be the one where we share personal things first as she isn't the type to react with a challenging reaction. My father definitely is able to have a sit down with any of us whom have personal issues and often is glad to share advice. It's just that he can be a little intimidating at first when you bring up such things.

However, I share your concern regarding bullying and discrimination, especially in school settings. I can't to begin to imagine what kind of hell he'd have to endure if he was open about this kind of stuff. Part of me hopes he can make a more conscience choice down the road after public school.

In most cases, surgery will not be performed on a minor, so you shouldn't worry about that.

I didn't tell my parents when I was younger because I knew it would have resulted in a backlash, but if you don't think it is a way of getting attention, a gender therapist is a must. If you have autism running in your family, it may be an indicator that it is, indeed, gender dysphoria. I know that Aspergers, which I have, and gender identity issues are often comorbid at an exceptionally high rate.

I'm here to answer questions for you if the need arises. I am more than happy to help you in this area.
I think I may be misunderstanding you, so apologizes in advance, but I want to clarify that my other sibling has severe autism while the other brother, the one that seems to be having gender dysphoria, does not any form of autism to my knowledge. Basically I'm not sure if I confused you or I'm misunderstanding you, so again apologizes here.

Regardless though, I believe you're correct about seeking some type of therapist so that we can figure out whether or not he really has gender dsyphoria or whether it's an attention mechanism. The aim either way is that I wish for him to be happier. Often times, I feel a little guilty that I'm unable to truly offer advice and insight for him due to me not experiencing much of the mental pain he goes through. It's like being on two different roads with traffic and unable to cross and connect with him on the other side. My father so far seems to be the better person in this respect. Still, I feel compelled to gain a point of reference of where he is mentally and hope to offer some knowledge that can benefit him in which ever avenue is available.

I thank you very much, and even more thankful with your open line of advice should anything else arise!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It's a process that is explored for a number of years before HRT or reassignment, generally.


My now FTM sibling started HRT at about 15 and first expressed gender dysphoria at around 10 or 11. l'm not sure what can be said, each person is different. l don't really believe that sharing personal information about my family member is going to be much more beneficial than what a person might take away from watching something similar on TV, so l don't do it often. Are there are any really specific questions you have?

A good support network, and with him especially that has meant local organizations and making friends with other trans people, but the family support is just as important.

He will be 18 this year and then l guess we'll see what happens as far as reassignment or top surgery, even though he's on HRT and has previously identified as male, recently he expresses he may only be genderqueer and not FTM. The hormones have already had some effect, needless to say, l'm not sure what direction that's going to go in.

l guess what l've learned is that keeping an open dialogue with him and everyone i the family helped all of us deal with the anxiety and find answers to questions as they arise.
The thing is actually, I'm not sure what kind of questions I need to ask. I learned about this from my mother today and been running through my mind of what should be done. Perhaps all that really is needed is a steady amount of open dialogue. At the moment, I have not brought up to him what he told my mother as I don't wish for him to feel like he can't share certain things without someone telling someone else. I'm thinking it's best that he opens up to me when feels comfortable doing so, and I respect that. I'm just trying to figure what I should know basically right now so that I can offer some info to him to the best of my ability.
Seeking out local networks didn't occur to me, but that sounds like a really great idea!

I hope your brother is able to see a successful turn out as well and applaud you for being a supportive role in his life :)
 

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I think I may be misunderstanding you, so apologizes in advance, but I want to clarify that my other sibling has severe autism while the other brother, the one that seems to be having gender dysphoria, does not any form of autism to my knowledge. Basically I'm not sure if I confused you or I'm misunderstanding you, so again apologizes here.
There's no need to apologize; I fully understood you. I was just was saying that since you have autism in your family gene pool, it wouldn't be a leap to say that gender dysphoria is also there. When I first saw my psychiatrist, he asked me if I had any LGBTQ relatives or anyone on the autism spectrum because there is a correlation between these traits and they do seem to run in families. I can't tell you why these things are linked as the research is very small, but if my shrink is asking, I think it's a safe bet to say it may have some truth to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
There's no need to apologize; I fully understood you. I was just was saying that since you have autism in your family gene pool, it wouldn't be a leap to say that gender dysphoria is also there. When I first saw my psychiatrist, he asked me if I had any LGBTQ relatives or anyone on the autism spectrum because there is a correlation between these traits and they do seem to run in families. I can't tell you why these things are linked as the research is very small, but if my shrink is asking, I think it's a safe bet to say it may have some truth to it.
Ah! Yeah I get what you mean now. That really is an interesting source of information to explore, so I really appreciate having this brought up :)
 

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The thing is actually, I'm not sure what kind of questions I need to ask. I learned about this from my mother today and been running through my mind of what should be done. Perhaps all that really is needed is a steady amount of open dialogue. At the moment, I have not brought up to him what he told my mother as I don't wish for him to feel like he can't share certain things without someone telling someone else. I'm thinking it's best that he opens up to me when feels comfortable doing so, and I respect that. I'm just trying to figure what I should know basically right now so that I can offer some info to him to the best of my ability.
Seeking out local networks didn't occur to me, but that sounds like a really great idea!

I hope your brother is able to see a successful turn out as well and applaud you for being a supportive role in his life :)
l was thinking about it more recently, just all the things that happened over the years and in his childhood before he announced he was trans.

One thing with my family that may or may not be true for yours is that it was at first kind of seen as a reaction on his part to the other people around him. l was thinking back to a time when l was about 18 and my grandmother asked myself and my female cousin to try and be 'girlish' role models from him. She was concerned he was trying to be too much like his dad (single parent) while our mom was out of the picture.


l tried that in a way that was minimally obnoxious, l do remember trying to take him to pick out girl clothes and attempting pigtails a few times. At first he was just kind of neutral about it but still not into it and eventually refused all together.

l never actually thought he was transgender and wasn't very concerned about trying to make him feminine so l brushed his hair ''like Harry Potter'' when he asked and treated him pretty much the way you treat any 5 year old, l wasn't foreseeing any lasting effects there (and don't necessarily think there were any, people IMO sometimes greatly overestimate the significance of childhood experience regarding this particular subject).

But now l wonder, if it hadn't been approached like it was such a reactionary thing, maybe it would have just been an experimental phase. Most of our family is very accepting but he's now estranged his father who definitely treated it like it was an ongoing act of rebellion. l never, ever thought that would happen and in fact thought his dad would be among ast people to do that.


So maybe have an in depth discussion with your mother about what she thinks his motivations are and later your brother, too. A gender therapist can discuss all of that in a professional manner.

l'm not at al suggesting that he's just being influenced by external factors and isn't MTF, although this is something a gender specialist will also examine and did in my sibling's place before even beginning to refer him to someone who could prescribe HRT.
 
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