With seats being reserved in Karnataka schools for transgender children under the RTE Act from this academic year, it is worthwhile shedding some light on such children, which would be useful for parents.
First of all, who is a transgender? All of us are born with an innate sense of being either male or female which usually matches our physical attributes. But for some people, the sense of male or female does not correspond with their bodily characteristics. So a transgender person would feel he is female even if he has male physical attributes and vice versa. Transgender-identified author Virginia Prince is most often credited with coining the term in 1969.
Can a child be a transgender?
Just like adults, children can be transgender and in fact a small percentage of children are. Transgender children who express their real identity can get extremely annoyed if they get labeled as a particular gender, which they are not comfortable with.
How early can a child display such a tendency?
It has been observed that children can identify gender differences as early as age two or three.
Why does a child become a transgender?
Many parents are under the misconception that it is something, which they did, that turned their child into a transgender person. In fact, nothing that a parent or for that matter anyone else says or does can alter a child’s gender identity. Scientific studies have revealed that transgenders are most likely born that way, from the start. It is important to note that children give cues early on through choice of clothing, hairstyles, and toys before becoming old enough to insist that they are really a boy or really a girl.
How to determine if it is a passing phase or not?
Such children persistently and consistently identify themselves differently saying, “I am this thing”. The crucial difference is that a boy authoritatively says, “I am a girl” rather than liking girly things and vice versa.
How should you react?
The most important thing for parents and caregivers to do when faced with a transgender child is to give them unconditional love and support and accept them for what they are. Although this is easier said than done, research shows that it can lead to happier, healthier lives for your children. It has been found that in families where parents pressurized their children to conform to gender stereotypes, young people are much more likely to report symptoms of depression, attempt to suicide, use of illegal drugs and be at a higher risk of HIV infection than other families which didn’t pressurize them to conform.