The mum of a transgender Auckland child is unmoved by the worried criticism, the eyebrows being raised over teacups and the plain old fashioned hatred that have met the media coverage of her son‚Äôs journey. She tells GayNZ.com why she spoke up, and why the flak is bouncing off her.
So, his parents did a great deal of research and sought advice, and they say their youngster showed ‚Äúcontentment and joy‚ÄĚ when he was able to ‚Äėcome out‚Äô as a boy.
They have shared his story in the media, and while some of the reporting has been of the good old fashioned sensationalist variety, there have also been inaccuracies. The Sunday Star Times, for example, has promised there will be an apology after a journalist‚Äôs solid story was blemished with a subeditor‚Äôs thoughtless front page headline: ‚Äúlittle girl who wants to be a boy‚ÄĚ.
The publicity has led to much public debate. Everyone from your grandma to your boss‚Äô cousin has probably weighed in with their opinion, much of it based around the inaccurate perception the child is about to start puberty blockers, and is doing so at the impulse of his parents.
This is something his mum ‚ÄėKayla‚Äô wants to clear up, saying her son isn‚Äôt starting blockers now, or even when he is nine ‚Äď something some of the experts who have been asked for comment on her son‚Äôs case have not been told.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre just being responsible parents, doing our research ahead of time,‚ÄĚ Kayla explains. ‚ÄúHe knows all the ins and outs. If you‚Äôre a responsible parent, you have to explain the paths open to him. We don‚Äôt want to get to the stage where he hits puberty and then is suicidal again. We research it. We have told him there are things that can be done.‚ÄĚ
By the time he is nine he would have been totally ‚Äėout‚Äô for three years and would meet some of the strict criteria needed for puberty blockers. But Kayla reiterates this doesn‚Äôt mean he will start using them, or even be allowed to.
‚ÄúThere is no guarantee he will get them then, but that‚Äôs when they will begin the procedure of the psychological evaluation and mental evaluation and everything like that.
‚ÄúI tried to say ‚Äėit‚Äôs not as simple as saying my child wants blockers, ok then, here you go.‚Äô There‚Äôs a great big long procedure and it could be months, years, he might never get them if they don‚Äôt think he‚Äôs of sound mind.‚ÄĚ
Puberty blockers are not a ‚Äúsex change‚ÄĚ as has been reported. They basically suspend the onset of adulthood. They give young people a window of time without changing physically, and hold back the development of sexual organs so less surgery will be required if that‚Äôs the path they take later on. Bodily and hormonal changes would continue as normal if the blockers, which are commonly used in cases of premature puberty, are stopped.
Kayla questions what child, at seven, would put up with the ‚Äėshit‚Äô her son deals with at school if he wasn‚Äôt actually a boy, and not just a kid going through some kind of phase.
And there has also been the criticism from clueless bible thumpers who don‚Äôt think a child, or anyone, can be anything than the gender they were physically born. For obvious reasons we will ignore this.
As for sharing her son‚Äôs story so openly, she welcomes anyone with worries to come and visit, and meet him, to see how well adjusted he is. Kayla says she is speaking out because she just wants to get people thinking and talking.
The family marched in Auckland's Pride Parade with their son carrying a sign declaring "I'm a boy because I say I am" and two months ago were to the fore amongst the crowd at the most highly-reported of the same-sex weddings on the first day of legalised marriage equality.
‚ÄúPeople have call me a media whore. I‚Äôm not a media whore. I couldn‚Äôt care less whether the media‚Äôs there or not. What I care about is there are trans people being persecuted. At the moment my son is relatively safe being seven years of age. They won‚Äôt target my son, they‚Äôll target me, and I‚Äôm more than able to handle this.‚ÄĚ
Kayla says none of the controversy or comments are affecting her son, who is happily and obliviously being a young boy. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs a normal child. He gets up in the morning, he showers, he goes to school, he has his friends around, he‚Äôs a normal child. He‚Äôs not fazed at all. He‚Äôs not had one moment of loss of sleep over this.
She adds: ‚ÄúI have no worries about anything with regard to my child, and my decisions and what I‚Äôve done. I just hate it how the transgender community, the older ones, are seeing this hate speech being bandied about. And also the ignorance that‚Äôs still out there.‚ÄĚ
Many of their friends and supporters are taking the hate and criticism to heart, ‚Äúand are all worried that we‚Äôre gonna crack up or something,‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúBecause of the all the horrible comments,‚ÄĚ she says, citing some right-wing websites which have been spouted utter drivel, and comments below stories in mainstream media.
Kayla has asked people to focus on the positive, in that the dialogue has been opened, and not to let haters upset them. She wants to focus on increasing knowledge and raising awareness.
‚ÄúThe older members of the trans community get such hate. And they get physically abused, and sometimes even killed. If I don‚Äôt do something now - my child‚Äôs going to be an adult one day, I am not just going to stop at us and the odd ignorant gay slur in the playground. There‚Äôs a real chance that he could get murdered because of transphobia, so I‚Äôm speaking up now. Hopefully by the time he‚Äôs 18 people have found a new issue to concern themselves about. Maybe the lack of education in New Zealand being one!‚ÄĚ
(Editor‚Äôs note: The boy‚Äôs family makes it clear he is super proud of his name and would love it to be shared. While we completely understand this, due to his age media ethics dictate that we keep his identity private.)