For trans children, at just how young an age is it appropriate to begin the transitioning process?
That's just one of the questions raised by this thought-provoking story from the Boston Globe last month, on Nicole and her family. (The implied answer would seem to be, to prepare the way early, but delay anything permanent (and that includes delaying "natural" processes, like the onset of puberty) until the decision to transition is definite and irrevocable.
Jonas and Wyatt Maines were born identical twins, but from the start each had a distinct personality.
Jonas was all boy. He loved Spiderman, action figures, pirates, and swords.
Wyatt favored pink tutus and beads. At 4, he insisted on a Barbie birthday cake and had a thing for mermaids. On Halloween, Jonas was Buzz Lightyear. Wyatt wanted to be a princess; his mother compromised on a prince costume.
Once, when Wyatt appeared in a sequin shirt and his mother’s heels, his father said: “You don’t want to wear that.’’
“Yes, I do,’’ Wyatt replied.
“Dad, you might as well face it,’’ Wayne recalls Jonas saying. “You have a son and a daughter.’’
-Read the full article at The Boston Globe.
The article also highlights the importance of a supportive family and school community - and Nicole's own mental strength. There came a point in her journey when the family became involved in political lobbying. She had encountered difficulties at school over usage of the girls' bathroom, and filed court proceedings against the school district for discrimination. A Republican state legislator then introduced legislation that would have repealed Maine's protection for transgender people in public restroom.
Last spring Wayne and Nicole roamed the halls of the State House, button-holing legislators and testifying against the bill. “I’d be in more danger if I went into the boys bathroom,’’ Nicole told the lawmakers, who ultimately rejected the bill.Nicole freely acknowledges the difficulties ahead - but described the political engagement as a "perk":
“She knows how to work a room,’’ her father says proudly. “She even convinced a cosponsor to vote the other way.’’
“Obviously my life is not going to be as easy as being gender-conforming, but there are perks like being able to get out there and do things that will benefit the [transgender] community,’’ she says. “I think everything’s going to turn out pretty well for me.’’As an aside to gthe main themes, I was amused by the self-description of Nicole's father (note the emphasis I added):
“As a conventional dad, hunter, and former Republican, it took me longer to understand that I never had two sons,’’ he told them. “My children taught me who Nicole is and who she needed to be.’’