Why Kids Are Getting Transgender Surgery

Many parents, doctors embrace early action

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 11, 2013 7:30 PM CDT | Updated Mar 16, 2013 1:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – As transgender rights gain more attention, parents and doctors are embracing transgender surgery for children at younger ages—even kids in elementary school, writes Margaret Talbot in the New Yorker. The thinking: Early surgery and puberty-suppressing medication will make kids better-looking and mentally stronger as they change genders. But some parents are straining under the pressure of making such a huge decision for a young child. "I wonder if I'm holding him back," says the father of a 3-year-old who seems transgender. "Like, should I be asking, 'Do you want to be called a he or she?'"

Talbot's article looks at Skylar, a teenager in New Haven who began his FTM (that's female-to-male) transition at age 14. He went on testosterone, had his breasts removed, and won his school's "homecoming" with a female date. What's more, his quiet confidence is supported by a culture of transgender support groups, YouTube videos, enthusiastic TV reporting, and a new diagnosis of "gender dysphoria"—more positive than the old "gender identity disorder." But some experts say early medical treatment is risky, and a few parents are still nervous: "A lot of these kids are sad for a variety of reasons," says the mother of a FTM teen. "Maybe the gender feelings are the underlying cause, maybe not."

In this Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, photo, Coy Mathis, left, plays with her sister Auri, at their home in Fountain, Colo. Coy has been diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
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