While not a common issue, growing up feeling like your body is the wrong gender is a struggle. About 700,000 people in the U.S., or 0.3% of the population identify as transgender in 2014. This often translates into stress for individuals and families because society has rigid guidelines for how it identifies an individual’s gender. In a shocking 2013 study, 41 percent of 6,400 transgender respondents claimed to have attempted suicide. Becoming who we feel we are is a very important journey; one seven-year-old A.J. (who’s name has been changed for privacy concerns) would go on much sooner than the average person.
A.J. was originally born a boy, but not long after A.J. turned 3, things started to changed. At the time, he wanted longer hair. Mother, Debi, claimed A.J. “screamed and fought when I got out the clippers and got one cut down the side … there were tears… like torture.” He did not feel comfortable in his clothes, frequently telling his parents he wanted to wear dresses and jewelery. The victim of constant harassment, A.J. said “When I first, in the fourth grade, cut my hair they called me he-she.”
At 4 years old, A.J.’s parents took her to their pediatrician, who declared the then boy’s gender identity did not align with her then body. While much happier now, her (A.J.) parents expressed great difficulty with the transition. Many of A.J.’s childhood friends have been distanced. Her parents have transferred her to a new school and guarded her transgender status with secrecy; something they plan to continue to do, fearing the discrimination their daughter could face.
A.J.’s story is truly a testimony of the power of love and family. Her family are not only Southern Baptists, they are also Republican and generally do not support things like transitional surgery/therapy. A.J.’s mother says they are in no way pushing a liberal agenda, and was quoted stating, “There is a profound difference between wanting to be something in imaginary play and in declaring who you are insistently, consistently and persistently. Those are three markers that set transgender children apart, and my daughter displayed all of them.”
Of transgenderism, A.J.’s dad said, “It’s not something we asked for. It’s not something we wanted. It just happened. My thought process all along is I would rather have a happy, healthy little girl than a suicidal, dead son.”
Dr. M. Mirza, LGBT Health Wellness – 2014