A small but growing number of teens and even younger children who think they were born the wrong sex are getting support from parents and from doctors who give them sex-changing treatments, according to reports in the medical journal Pediatrics.
It’s an issue that raises ethical questions, and some experts urge caution in treating children with puberty-blocking drugs and hormones.
According to the Daily Mail, a four-year-old child has begun to transition before their first day of kindergarten.
The child, who is unidentified for privacy purposes, is part of the Safe Schools program and hopes to complete the gender transition by next year.
But psychologists have questioned whether the preschooler is too young as gender transition among young children skyrockets, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The Education Department would not reveal whether the child was born a boy or girl.
While the four-year-old is the youngest on record changing their gender, hundreds of other children and their parents have sought advice from the gender dysphoria unit.
The Westmead Children’s Hospital in Sydney has had referral patients at its gender service department triple.
‘We have a number of students who are going through gender transition in our schools, with the youngest being a four-year-old at the moment,’ the Educations Department’s deputy secretary of school operations Gregory Prior said.
A gender dysphoria unit in the Westmead Children’s Hospital is taking on the case and will assist the child during the transition.
They have claimed that the number of children who have been referred to their gender service department has tripled recently. Nearly 250 children have appointments at this time, the youngest being 3. Only 10 years ago, there was only one child on their books.
Child Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg states that the child typically understands his or her own feelings better than the adults that surround him or her and claims that the child knows the difference between dressing as the opposite sex or actually feeling like he or she is the opposite sex.
Many have responded to the child’s decision to undergo a sex change by claiming 4-year-olds are simply too young to make such a decision the Inquisitr reported.
Many are comfortable with the child dressing in opposite gender labeled clothing yet feel such a drastic decision should wait until the child is much older or until he or she has a better understanding of how the procedure works and the implications of undergoing the surgery, such as the inability to have children.
An unnamed individual from the United Kingdom believes the minimum age to make such a decision should be 16, allowing time to understand the consequences of transitioning to the opposite sex.
“Kids that are far too young to have thought through the consequences are being allowed to make life changing decisions. Personally I would suggest a minimum age of sixteen.”
Bethany Powell, a transgender individual, is not in agreement that the child should undergo the sex change operation, claiming that gender is not clear to such a young child. She wonders if the child may even grow out of the phase. As a transgender herself, she is an advocate for gender reassignment surgery. However, a 4-year-old is too young to be fully aware of his or her body, she states.
“At four years old gender isn’t very clear for them and may even be something they will grow out of, getting Gender Reassignment Surgery at such a young age may not be the best idea-especially if it turns out they now feel more comfortable as their birth gender.”
What are your thoughts? Is 4-years-old too young?