Opinion: The complicated debate on puberty blockers without parental consent and gender identity in the classroom.

This is not a complicated situation. My opinion on gender is straightforward. I do not judge anyone according to their gender identity or lack of. I understand that I cannot possibly understand what it is like to want to stop puberty at a young age because I personally have never felt that way.

Although I know my comparison is not the same in complexity, it is all I have to go on as far as being able to relate. With that being said, it was complex for me and changed the outcome of my entire life, just in a different way.

When I was in school, I was a rebel. I suffered from ADHD, but it was undiagnosed because, at that time, people were not aware it was a “thing.” I was smart and even won an award in fourth grade for an article I wrote. My report cards said that “I was a talented writer. However, “I could not sit still or stop talking long enough to get anywhere,” and “I needed to focus and work on my attention span to succeed in school.”

Those things were addressed as a moral deficiency, and I was in trouble all of the time for being a “bad kid.” This caused me to rebel, and being deemed bad made me feel like I might as well make them right. I ran away out of state, dropped out of school, got pregnant, and married before I was 18 years old. The minute I turned 16 and could legally make a decision, that is what I did.

I never considered education or the consequences for my future. That was a part of my ADHD. The disorder comes with problems deciphering and considering impulsive decisions and consequences. I was confused and angry and ran away to be myself and make my decisions based on my feelings at the time. I was sheltered and had strict rules with my parents. Now I see these rules were set in place by my parents to try and protect me from myself and my impulsive decisions.

I dropped out of school without parental consent because I could. I did not think twice about the consequences in the long term. The consequences of my decision followed me my entire life. I worked very hard to get to where I ended up and had I finished school I would make much more money than I have and my life would have been easier.

I don’t regret my daughter and would not change having her for any amount of money but had I waited and finished school, my decision would have spared my children many financial issues I endured as a single parent. Even if I had lived at home longer with the baby and finished school, our lives would have improved.

My parents had to give signed permission for me to get married at 17, and they did because I gave them no choice. The picture I painted for them of my relationship differed from the relationship itself. I was too young to commit to a marriage, and the marriage ended a year later in divorce. My parents did what they thought was supportive and right and, in reality, just wanted to be a part of my life. Had they not consented, I would have rebelled and disappeared again. Their hands were tied.

I was a teenager in puberty with rollercoaster emotions and ideals. I had no experience to base any of this on. As I grew older, my experiences with people, jobs, and responsibilities changed my knowledge of life. I found what I thought about life in high school was not based on reality. Being a single parent at such a young age without education was one of the hardest roads I could have taken, not the easiest.

I do not feel that making decisions that will affect the rest of your life should be left up to a minor without parental guidance. At 47, I still regret many moments when the path I chose was based on emotions, teenage rebellion, and absolutely no research.

Recently, a 16-year-old boy was discussing with me that he was very emotional for a straight male and that it may be because he is transgender. In every single other way, he is heterosexual. He feels like a male, he identifies as a male, and he is attracted to females. The main reason he made this statement is that he is emotional and has feelings. Who told him to be a man involved not having feelings or emotions? Men are allowed to have feelings and emotions without being labeled transgender. The definition of transgender:

Transgender is an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth.

I want to know who makes these rules. What is typical? Isn’t “typical” relative to where you live and who you were raised by?

typ·i·cal/ˈtipik(ə)l/ having the distinctive qualities of a particular type of person or thing.”a typical day”

When did people decide that a typical man means a man who has no emotions?

Pronouns are being used today regarding gender identification.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

This is where I believe our children are being confused. While this may not be what the transgender community intended this is what this boy’s take on it was. Many boys have grown up being taught emotions are for girls and to be a man you must be tough.

Many men hide their emotions because of their upbringing. Ultimately men have many deep feelings they are just taught to suppress them by parents who were brought up the same way. Is it right or wrong? It depends on your parenting style.

Whatever your style, as long as you are not hurting your child or abusive you should be allowed to raise your children the way you see fit in the United States. Some may say raising your child based on your religious views is wrong. That is because they disagree with your beliefs. There is a fine line when we start allowing the government to dictate how our children are raised.

Something as important as how you will develop as a human being and what your gender will be for the rest of your life is not something I want to be taught to my children by someone else without my knowledge.

This is life-altering stuff. I deserve to know what my children are learning outside of my home. A boy should not be labeled transgender for being emotional at a time when he has puberty-based emotions and thought processes. It could easily be misconstrued and elevated to a point where he decides to take puberty blockers without parental consent which may cause even further confusion.

The topic is complicated. It is not a topic that I feel should be addressed with children in elementary school. To discuss these things with children that young is dangerously close to indoctrination. The definition of indoctrination is:

in·doc·tri·na·tion/inˌdäktrəˈnāSHən/

the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.

The way I felt emotionally when I was school age could not be more different than I feel now at 47. I find that putting this pressure on children so young is putting them in a position to label themselves with something that they have no capability of grasping because they lack life experience and emotional maturity.

When children come home from elementary school claiming they are bisexual etc., to me, it seems the subject itself is inappropriate. I don’t feel my children at that age need to focus on these topics, not because I am against any gender identity issues but because it places too much pressure too soon at their age.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

In a time when people are screaming equality, it is odd to me that we are placing so much attention on labels at such a young age. If a child is struggling because these issues are affecting them naturally that is a different story.

If a child is trying to find a label for their identity because they don’t understand the complexity of what true transgenders experience and they are being bombarded with too much information for their maturity level that is a different situation altogether.

That is where parents are important. Parents know their children. They know what is affecting their child enough to see their child is distressed. This is not so common that every child needs to be exposed to it in elementary school.

Children who are affected by it should be privy to the appropriate information and guidance from licensed professionals and their parents. Just as being “gay” is not a choice, neither is identifying as transgender. Presenting it as a choice in elementary school is confusing. Expecting small children to understand and process the information appropriately is uneducated.

Parents have a right to decide what is too soon for their children based on knowing their children best. Families have their own beliefs, whether social or religious, and it is not the school’s job to introduce these subjects to young children.

Teachers do not always know specific family circumstances and backgrounds, and some teachers are better than others. Teachers are not child psychologists. This type of curriculum is not within their realm of specialty.

Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

The indications of this type of schooling are subjective to each child and should be handled by parents and professionals they choose. Teachers are there to teach our children core subjects, not help them make life-altering decisions regarding gender or sexual preference.

Gender blockers have no long-term research. No child should be allowed to stop nature by themselves without parental guidance. Parents who allow this to happen or approve should think long and hard and do research. Agreeing with your children is not good parenting. Know the facts of what you agree to from both sides, and do your research. Speak to professionals and get several opinions, not just one.

The school is not always right. In high school, we had a smoking lounge for students. The school allowed underage people to smoke on campus. Now twenty-five years later, I have struggled with nicotine addiction, and the onset of health problems from smoking are dominant.

In closing, we cannot begin to understand the pressures in today’s schools on our children. Social media is prevalent and our kids are exposed to information from the very depths of the internet. This exposure is molding our children whether we like it or not. Fitting in in school is one constant that has stayed the same. Fitting in today in school is much different than when we were kids.

Making sure passing fads, information learned at school, and internet-driven popularity isn’t what confuses our children and their gender identity is our responsibility. Being able to recognize a child who is following the masses as opposed to truly feeling they were born the wrong gender is key.

If a child chooses at a young impressionable age to change their gender and it is based on popularity online, media, and biased opinion we are failing as a society in ways that will destroy people’s futures. Trying to stay ahead of potential gender crises has become an obsession and agenda.

Society has taken an already complicated situation and made it even more complicated for everyone. Addressing it with people who truly are in crisis is key. Making it a crisis for everyone when it is not applicable is irresponsible.

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