When you research transsexualism, particularly theories of its origins, severity, and course of therapy, you will run across a couple of terms that used to be a lot more. The literature categorized transsexuals into “early-onset” and “late-onset,” sometimes called “primary” and “secondary” transsexuals. This distinction tried to describe the difference in people who knew of their gender dysphoria very early and those who slowly became aware of its severity over a longer period of time. Although the literature does not assign a particular age to these categories, it seems to me that early-onset covers youth through the 20’s, and late-onset covers 30’s onwards.
Current therapeutic models generally agree that if you feel you’re transsexual and you don’t have any personality disorders or mental illnesses, then you probably are a transsexual and, as an adult, you can determine the speed and direction of your life. It is a very progressive philosophy, one I’ve come to appreciate, especially in my early forays into the medical and psychological establishment, fully expecting to be thwarted at every turn, only to discover that I have been in control of my transition at every step.
Lately, there have been several newsworthy cases of very young transsexuals seeking to come to school as the opposite sex, or to simply be accepted pre-school as the opposite sex. There was the case of the 8-year-old MTF transsexual student in Colorado. Then there was a 2-part series on NPR (Part 1 and Part 2) just last week.
Google “transgender children” and see how many hits you get. I think one of the next big waves will have to deal with “childhood-onset” transsexualism and it will intersect therapy, school-access issues, bathroom policies, bullying issues, to name a few. Besides the obvious starting points (PFLAG, Family Equality Council, COLAGE, and TransYouth Family Allies) Here are some of the sources that might be useful in beginning to think about our transgendered children:
Alex Blaze’s piece in Bilerico.
Mercedes Allen, 3 Models of Transsexuality, also on Bilerico
Shannon Garcia’s “Transgender Children for Dummies,” also on Bilerico