Some Notes on the Special needs of
Young Transsexual People, especially Teenagers
By the Secretary of Mermaids
What do the younger ones need ?
This is a little of what I have picked
up over the last few years. Please bear in mind that everyone who is TS seems
to be able to "cope" and pretend to be happy in their biological gender for a
certain length of time, until suddenly a crisis enters their life and then they
know that they cannot pretend any longer. This crisis can occur at any age. I've
met or spoken to people for whom it has come in their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's,
60's and even 70's.
The very worst time of all is puberty,
as at this age you haven't developed the life skills that help the older TS -
even those in their 20's, to achieve transition, with all the trauma that comes
before, during and after. At this age you're still stuck in school, with a load
of twazzocks (idiots, etc.!) who know you're different and remind you of it
every minute of the day. At this age you're still stuck at home with the family,
you can't leave home, you're probably terrified of telling them in case they get
angry/throw you out, etc. - and you know you can't exist or get help without
them. At this age you are immature, and the stress of this heap of trouble on
your back holds back your maturity - it also leaves you prey to every illness
under the sun, as your resistance to bugs is very much weakened.
On top of all this you're also probably
very bright, expected to do well at school, and the pressure is on to do well at
those GCSE's and A levels. Problem is, you can't concentrate in school as all
you can think about are those problems and how to sort them one day, you are dog
tired as you can't sleep properly, and on top of that you're losing valuable
time at school as you're constantly ill. But you know that you gotta do at least
the GCSE's as it's damn hard to get a job that suits your intelligence without
Life for the teenage TS who has already hit their
crisis, is Sh*t.
- To know where to go for help, support, advice, etc.
- To be in touch with others their own age.
- To be able to start going out and socialising with
other people, especially those their own age, but also with all other ages.
During their teenage years they will have seriously missed out on having a
gang or mates to go around with, they will probably have been isolated and may
have led solitary lives. Sometimes by choice as they knew they didn't fit in,
sometimes because they will have been excluded.
- Their choice of social venue may not be the same as
that of the older transsexual person (not necessarily though - I know there
are some real swingers out there).
- Some will have been treated so badly by their peers
that they will be scared of making friends with anyone, especially those close
to their own age. They will need patience and sensitivity from those they turn
to for help.
- They may need help in searching for suitable clothes
- please bear in mind that they might need different fashion styles, more
suitable to their own age groups.
- They might need advice on changing names/documents,
etc. They might also need someone to "hold their hand" and help them do it.
- They might need advice on whether to transition
before going to college or university, or to leave it until after they go
there. They might need advice on whether to tell the university/college that
they are Transsexual before they go there, or leave it until later.
- They might need advice on how to get GCSE and A
level certificates changed to a new name.
- They might need reassurance on whether they look and
sound right - they will appreciate tactful honesty so they can aim at getting
things right, rather than someone telling them they look/sound fine (when they
don't quite) just to boost their confidence.
- They will need support and encouragement, but they
will also need to be allowed to go at their own pace - they will not react
well to being pushed too quickly.
- They may need sympathetic help in telling family,
etc., or a phone number for family to ring for a chat.
- They might need help in choosing a new name.
- They might appreciate a place to stay for a while in
- They might not like to be told - "It's OK for you
youngsters - we never had it so easy in our day" or similar remarks. Life will
have been just as bad for them as it was for the older TS person, just
- Nor will they like to be told "Well at least you've
started early enough not to have any ........ (facial hair/ children/ boobs/
marriage/ Adam's apple) .... etc. They've probably had other problems that
their advisor hasn't. And they won't like their experiences to be belittled by
someone who might not have a clue exactly what it has been like.
- 16 and above - They especially won't like to be
reminded that at least they've started before they've brought children inro
the world, as this makes things "easier" - they are probably desperate to have
children one day, and know that transition, if they go all the way through
surgery, will make them sterile.
- They may feel that they have spent most of their
lives not being able to make their own free choices about what happens to them
regarding the most important issue in their lives, i.e. gender. They may feel
that they have been left with no control at all, their life being dictated by
parents, teachers, doctors, etc. It is therefore important to find ways to
allow them to begin to feel that they are gaining control over their own
lives, to involve them in discussions regarding their present and their
Notes for non-UK readers:
|GCSE - General Certificate of Secondary Education -
School certificate taken at age 16. |
|A Level - Advanced level - School or college
certificate taken at 18 or over (The official school leaving age is 16 but you
may continue to remain at school until 18 to sit A levels or may take them at
a Further Education College). |
© Secretary of Mermaids 1998