Children as young as four already ‘transitioning’

Children as young as four already ‘transitioning’

John Bingham — Dec 27, 2016

transgender_promotion_in_schoolsUp to 80 primary school-aged children a year in the UK are now seeking help towards potentially changing their gender amid signs of classmates encouraging each other to do so, a leading charity working in the area has disclosed.

In some cases children as young as four are already in the process of “transitioning” to another sex, according to Susie Green, chair of Mermaids, a charity which provides support for families of children and teenagers with gender identity issues.

Meanwhile some schools are seeing signs of a cluster effect, with a number of pupils coming forward to seek support towards a possible change after one takes the first step, she said.

Her comments came as it emerged that a primary school in the North West of England is involved in a stand-off over the issue after refusing to accept a request from an eight-year-old born as a girl to be treated as a boy.

“We are working with them, we are trying to resolve that but [the school] are very reluctant,” said Mrs Green, who is backing the parents’ request.

She said such stand-offs are now “very common” and added that a legal challenge over the issue could not be ruled out in the near future.

Mrs Green – whose grown up daughter Jackie, was born a boy and first spoke about being in the wrong gender at the age of four – said eight is no longer considered particularly young to begin the process of changing gender.

“We have got four-year-olds, five-year-olds, six-year-olds who are transitioning as parents know more about it and are more aware if they have a child who is struggling and suffering,” she said.

“You wouldn’t necessarily do anything unless it is causing distress [but] these kids are so much happier now they have been supported to live in the gender they identify with, it is a no-brainer.

“We have parents reporting back saying ‘my kid is so much happier now, they are attending school now, they are making friends now’.

“We have got families of five-year-olds, six-year-olds, seven-year-olds – eight isn’t particularly early.”

She signalled that the charity is now dealing with around 80 cases involving primary school age children per year.

“In terms of families joining our parents’ group, this year alone we’ve had over 200 families,” she said.

“The majority of those – about 60 per cent – are teens but the rest are families of young children.

“It is a lot more than people realise.

“But one thing is that there is more information getting out there now and we are finding now about half the schools we are dealing with are actually accommodating and want to learn because there is more in the media and more out there.”

She added that she had seen evidence that children asking to live in another gender are themselves encouraging others to do so.

“We are finding that where schools are have young people who are coming out and transitioning in school, that is actually kicking off other kids,” she said.

“We think that … about one per cent of the population is trans in some way.

“I have just seen [that] with a school that I did some training with before Christmas – they had one trans boy came out and then had two other young people come forward and asking for help.

“If they see other young people dealing with it, it could be a light-bulb moment, or it could be that they feel confident that they will be helped.”

But she added that standoff between schools and parents are also still common

“I would say about 50 per cent of schools have literally no knowledge of the issue and are often quite reluctant to accommodate child gender issues,” she said.

“They often turn around and say you can’t have this, you can’t have that, it has got to be the name on the birth certificate, it has got to be the name on the school roll.

“We often get involved and have to intervene to help the parents, to talk to the school, to educate them.

“In the main schools have no knowledge about this.”

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