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." (Read more transgender stories.)

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