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Responding to Concerns about Youth Transitioning: A Trans Youth Perspective

By Jade Walters

Editor’s Note: There is a lot of hateful and unfounded online content about youth transitioning. Much of the online chatter and opinions about this are based on misinformation and propaganda and are largely germinated by far-right Christian Nationalists and politicians to further their agenda. A young trans woman, Jade Walters (she/they) shares their experience in response to this. We’re incredibly grateful for advocates like Jade who are willing to stand up in the face of hate to make a difference for their community.

I feel that I have a fairly unique perspective on this issue because, on top of being trans myself, I have spent the past several years running a grassroots organization that offers peer support services to transgender people over the age of 16. Between this group and Kelowna’s Etcetera group, which offers similar services to people under eighteen, these are the only services in the Okanagan that offer peer support to trans people, and as such, I get to hear a lot of the experiences of trans people as well as detransitioners.

One misconception about the trans community, I find, is that many people believe we simply want everyone who is considering a transition to seek medical intervention and transition as quickly as possible. In my experience, this is not true. Many of the people who attend our group are people who are questioning whether they are transgender or not, and as a facilitator of the space, it is not my goal to convince anyone that they are trans– that would just lead to more problems for that person down the road. Rather, we aim to hold space for that person to talk about how they’re feeling, what they’re going through, and listen to some other people’s experiences, and come to their own conclusions. We also recommend that they perhaps talk to a counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist about these feelings so that they can make an informed decision.

Another note – I do not know of any people within my community that vilify detransitioners. In my mind, if someone chooses to detransition, that is their prerogative, and ultimately all that I want for them is to feel comfortable in their skin. If someone comes to me and is wanting to discuss their feelings around detransition, they have both my ear and my full support. The transgender community does not proselytize with the goal of getting as many people to transition as possible– we do not count people transitioning as a “win” for our community, nor do we see detransitioning as a “loss.” Rather, we just want people to have the space and resources to do whatever is right for them in particular.

Another misconception I have seen repeatedly is that children are being shuffled through the medical transition process like so many cattle to slaughter. Again, this is not the case. For adults, it is necessary to be diagnosed and receive approval from two medical professionals in order to get on hormones. This isn’t surgery, this is just hormone medication, and this is the process for adults. For children, the vetting is far more rigorous, and they are very rarely given access to hormones, much less surgery. 

Now, if I had the option to transition when I was say, 13 or 14, I definitely would have taken the option of seeing doctors and therapists. But I cannot turn back time. Knowing, however, that children are experiencing the same thing now that I experienced at that age, I am happy that there is more visibility of transgender issues so they can go to these support groups, can talk about it with their parents (provided that they are supportive), they can go to therapy to discuss these feelings and where they might be coming from. If these children go through this process and find that hormone blockers would be helpful for them, they would still have to discuss this with multiple doctors in order to receive a prescription, and if these kids reach this point, I am happy that they are getting the care they need, both from their medical community and their family.

For the kids who are dabbling with the idea of transness as something they might be interested in, but aren’t sure that it’s something they want to commit to, let them try on the clothing they wanna try, let them mess around with a different name or pronouns, let them know that you’ll love them whatever they end up doing, and in like, 60% of these instances it’s gonna be something that they engage with for a year or two and decide that ultimately they aren’t trans. The ones who are trans, they’ve been given a supportive environment for self-discovery, which can’t really harm anyone. For the ones who determine, or come to the conclusion that they are trans, they’ve been given a supportive environment and can go through the same standardized processes that everyone else has to go through.

No one is trying to force kids into being transgender – we are simply trying to make sure that resources are available for those who need them.