Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mommy, I'm supposed to be a boy. God made a mistake!

It was a primal scream that went right through me and sent distress signals to my heart. My beautiful 4-year-old daughter stood up in the bathtub as though she were possessed. "Mommy, I'm supposed to be a boy. God made a mistake!" she screamed through heaving tears. Somehow I stayed calm, put my arms around her and tried to calm her down.
We talked and talked over the next several years, and I spent hours on the Internet looking for children's books, social groups, summer camps, films, anything that might help Syd feel less alone and isolated. There just wasn't anything for children who questioned their gender or felt different, unless they were older.
School was torture. I dropped her off, and then I pretended to drive off but instead parked across the street and watched as she tried to navigate the schoolyard, a daunting task for even the bravest. I was heartbroken. A million memories of her nine years on the planet went through my head.
She was adopted at birth and was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum. Then there were the many psycho-educational tests, therapies and her ongoing gender questions. We tried switching schools for middle school, but by the time sixth grade was coming to an end, things still didn't feel right for Syd. She was gifted, had some learning challenges and was desperate to be a real boy.
Mom and I were watching TV and saw two little girls who were born boys, and I responded, "Mom, that's me, only opposite! My brain and my heart feel like a boy."
Like any good mother I tracked down the doctor who was on the show, and to my surprise she was right here in L.A., at Children's Hospital. We went to several appointments, and Syd went through several years of psychotherapy with a gender specialist.
It was quite by accident that we next landed at Bridges Academy, a school for twice-gifted children. It was there that Syd began to blossom and I first heard about the LifeWorks Mentoring program. I called them immediately and was told that it was for kids between the ages of 14 and 24. My heart sank as I told them, "Syd is 12. But please, just meet her. See if you think she'd fit in."
We went the following day and met founder Michael Ferrera, Dan Dumont and Dinorah Garcia. They all agreed that Syd would be a great addition to LifeWorks and were willing to give it a try.
I finally had a place to land, a place to get my questions answered, make deep friendships with kids like me and have a home away from home with people who accepted and understood me.
Within a couple of months LifeWorks moved to the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center at McCadden Place, and soon thereafter, they introduced me to a hand-picked mentor, Moore Rhys, an exceptional woman who provided me with a year of Sundays and more. She shared her life and her wisdom and gave me information, guidance, respect and love, and we've cultivated a lifelong friendship as a result.
Beyond the LifeWorks program, the center has provided me with many friendships and all kinds of classes, and it has brought me into the community. I couldn't be more thankful to Lorri Jean, Bill McDermott and the coordinators of "An Evening With Women" for all the opportunities they've given me. I spread the word to anyone and everyone who needs a place like I did.
I am hoping to be accepted into CalArts next year to pursue my life-long dream of making LGBT animated films for a starving generation of kids like me. LifeWorks has been so supportive and pro-active in helping me achieve my dream.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Doctor calls for gender clinic plan as number of transgender children increases

THE leading Queensland psychiatric expert on children with gender identity disorder says the number of transgender children is increasing.
Dr Stephen Stathis said he expected parents of two children would apply to the Family Court for permission for them to be given feminine hormones within the next year and more would follow as others reached puberty.
But he said some desperate parents who were unaware of the professional help available for their anxious transgender children were getting unregulated, unregistered hormones from overseas via the internet.
Dr Stathis, Director of Child and Youth Mental Health Services at Brisbane's Royal Children's Hospital, has seen more than 20 children with GID in the last four years, including some as young as four.
"The numbers are rising and now we're looking at developing a gender clinic," Dr Stathis said. Half his gender identity patients are boys who identify as girls - the other half are girls who identify as boys.
But Dr Stathis says research shows that about 50 per cent of children with significant transgender behaviour will desist, or grow out of it, by the time they reach puberty.