Lesbian Parents’ Lesbianism “Blamed” For 11-Year-Old Child’s Transgenderism

Tammy, via the Daily Mail

As a toddler, one of the first things Thomas Lobel told her parents, Pauline Moreno and Debra Lobel, was, “I am a girl.” Her parents thought Thomas, who was signing because of a speech impediment, was confused. She wasn’t.

Thomas was shy, depressed, preferred sitting alone inside to playing with other kids, and preferred things typically associated with femininity, specifically sparkly headbands, dolls, and Wonder Woman, to things typically associated with masculinity, specifically baseball hats, action figures, and Superman. At age 7, she was diagnosed with gender identity disorder. At age 8, she changed her name to Tammy, started using female pronouns, and started picking out dresses to wear. According to her parents, “As soon as we let him put on a dress, his personality changed from a very sad kid who sat still, didn’t do much of anything to a very happy little girl who was thrilled to be alive.”

Predictably, people are bothered by this.

The Herald Sun uses the fact that Tammy’s parents are lesbians and adoptive as a way of framing the idea that Tammy’s gender and experiences are a result of living with people with a different “lifestyle” and are not internally driven. The Herald Sun and The Daily Mail both use the wrong pronoun throughout their coverage, and alternate between the names “Tammy” and “Thomas.” Both outlets also use language that questions the validity of the claims of their sources, such as “insists” and “claims”; call hormone therapy “controversial” without expanding on who, specifically, finds it controversial; and only include quotations from the parents, who are obviously supportive, and Internet commenters, who are scandalized and not even cited directly. You would also think that, because this story is about an 11-year-old, newspapers would stay away from the “before” and “after” photos that often characterize sensationalized stories about trans* people. And you would be wrong. Surprisingly, and despite pronoun issues, CNN does the best job, with quotations from the managing director of Gender Spectrum, several doctors, and a University of Toronto professor. And, of course, Chaz Bono.

Talking to doctors is especially important in light of arguments such as the idea that transitioning “interfere[s] with the child’s biology” (emphasis not mine. Want to feel angry? Read that article.) and that it is a form of “experiment[ation] on children” because hormone replacement therapy hasn’t been approved by the FDA. While the FDA currently mostly talks about HRT is as it applies to women going through menopause, saying that non-FDA-approved methods are unethical discounts the multiple other therapies that exist that are also not necessarily FDA-approved (and the fact that the FDA deals with drugs, not approaches to treatment). It also raises the question of which is more unethical: the chance of a medical risk, or forcing someone to behave contrary to their gender.

According to the American Psychological Association, “it is not helpful to force the child to act in a more gender-conforming way.’ When they’re forced to conform, some children spiral into depression, behavioral problems and even suicidal thoughts.” Tammy, who threatened self-injury while living as a boy and who was depressed when younger, certainly falls into this category.

According to Moreno, “He was in his own world just completely detached and that was a problem we always had was getting Thomas to participate in life. What we saw emerge when Tammy was allowed to be Tammy is, ‘Whoa!’ … It was an immediate transformation. She was so giggly and she was now interacting.”

This past summer, Tammy started taking hormone-blocking drugs by way of an implant in her left arm. The drugs will delay her experiencing puberty, must be renewed once a year, and are fully reversible — around age 14, Tammy will stop taking them and either go through male puberty or begin estrogen hormone treatment.

According to CNN,

“Medical practitioners have to be careful with children with gender identity issues, said Dr. Kenneth Zucker, head of the Gender Identity Service in the Child, Youth, and Family Program and professor at the University of Toronto. Giving children hormone blockers to kids before the age of 13 is too early, he said.

Zucker conducted a study following 109 boys who had gender identity disorder between the ages of 3 and 12. Researchers followed up at the mean age of 20 and found 12% of these boys continued to want to change genders. […]

All of this leads to unsettling answers for families trying to understand their children. No one knows whether a child’s gender dysphoria will continue forever or if it is temporary.

The unsatisfying answer repeated by experts is that only time will tell.”

Tammy’s parents should be applauded for giving her that time.

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Ryan Yates

Ryan Yates was the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com, with bylines in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, The Daily Beast, Jezebel, and elsewhere. They live in Los Angeles and also on twitter and instagram.

Ryan has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. Go Tammy, go tammy’s parents!

    PS I’m convinced it was my parents’ heterosexuality that made me trans. Thanks a lot guys!

    • Hmm. By this logic, having one of my parents be trans made me cis. I’m expecting the blame-filled newspaper article any time now…ah, crap, that’s not how stupid transphobic craptacular journalists work. Guess it’s just not to be; nevertheless, i have two awesome mothers and it’s great to see Tammy does, too.

  2. Damn it, Riese, you warned me and I still read that article. Why did I read that article? One of the comments seriously compared hormone blocking to forced sterilization of the mentally impaired. I hate everyone.

  3. This people were just being good parents not “lesbian parents” I mean they LISTENED to their child and then sought medical/psychological advice and then decided that allowing their child to be who she was is better then having that would no doubt be depressed and suicidal. If only we had more parents out there who were as open-minded and listened to what their children were trying to tell them.

  4. On a positive(ish) note, the CNN short video was WAY better and less ‘transphobic’ than that rather shitty (yet informative) Primetime/nightline special. On a weirder note, after watching the video CNN suggested other videos including “syrian teen beheading” and “dick cheney on obama”…

  5. I don’t understand how newspapers can claim on one hand to care about the welfare of a child, and on the other, publicly rip into her private life.

    I mean, I get sensationalism sells and dissecting Chaz Bono has been a barrel of fun lately, but hes an adult. She’s 11. Surely someone with a soul could have brought up that hearing that her unfit parents are experimenting on her is a little more damaging than wearing a dress?

  6. It’s frustrating to read many of those comments on the CNN article. They are both ignorant and intentionally hurtful.

    • Yeah, AS is one of the only sites where the comments section isn’t a cesspool of ignorance and stupidity (and yay for that!!)

  7. Hi Caroyln! Thanks for posting this! I have one small request though- could you please change the pronouns in the first two sentences to reflect Tammy’s true gender? Merci! :)

  8. Carolyn, you used the wrong pronoun in the first few sentences. Tammy was never a “he.” She was always a she, even before her parents let her socially transition. By using “he”, you fall into the trap of treating trans girls as switching from male to female instead of as being always a girl who was assigned male at birth. There was also no need to refer to Tammy as “Thomas” for the first part of the article. If criticizing other writers’ handling of trans* people, you should be careful about your own use of pronouns and names. When writing about trans people, always use their preferred name and pronoun. Those are their real ones.

  9. it’s so nice to actually see supportive parents who care about nothing more than the welfare of their child. bravo to Tammy’s parents for letting her be the person she wants to be! and bravo to Tammy for knowing who she is at 11!

  10. Also, “transgenderism” is a very outdated term that is not used in activist communities. If you’re talking about lesbians, you wouldn’t say “homosexualism.” You should say “gender identity” or “trans* status” instead.

    • you wouldn’t say “lesbianism” either, which we also use in the title.
      the title is jokey, like all of our titles are, which is a commentary on the stupidity of the people doing the blaming.

      • It’s one thing to be jokey about discrimination that the group you belong to personally experiences. It’s another thing to use a term that’s now used almost exclusively by groups like Focus on the Family as the title of an article written by a cisgender person. If a cis person is writing the article, they are not given the same license to make jokes. Just like a white person writing about discrimination against black people does not have the same freedom to make jokes or a straight person writing about anti-queer discrimination. It’s about acknowledging the privilege and power-hierarchies that exist and not using potentially hurtful language against a marginalized group to which the author does not belong. Also, the jokiness is not clear when originally the first few sentences of the article used the wrong pronouns and the first paragraph still refers to her as “Thomas.”

        • If you watch the video on the CNN page that Carolyn linked to, you can see Tammy’s parents discuss their daughter’s transition and they themselves refer to their child as having been called Thomas at one point. They also use male pronouns when describing her pre-transition. While now that Tammy’s old enough to explain her gender identity, her parents thought they had a son initially, and these are the same parents who have totally supported her transition.

          Carolyn was just using ‘Thomas’ and male pronouns to describe Tammy’s gender realization and the period before her transition. Of course I’m not denying Tammy’s status as a girl, but it’s like you’re expecting the article to pretend like she isn’t trans, like her parents didn’t have a Thomas ever.

          I see that AS changed the pronouns in the beginning of the article, but even Tammy’s parents refer to their child with male pronouns when describing Tammy before she transitioned. That’s not denying her status as female, it’s just a description of the family’s reality…

          • You can discuss trans* people’s transition experiences while using correct pronouns and names. Respectfulness of a trans* child’s identity should not be based on the parents’ attitude toward the child’s trans* status. Even if her parents had used exclusively male pronouns and “Thomas” to describe Tammy, articles about her should still use her correct name and pronouns. Transition does not change a boy into a girl. Transition just means that the girl no longer has to pretend to be a boy or have other people expect her to act like a boy.

            For names, the article could have said “Tammy, whose parents called her Thomas before her transition.” By framing it that way, it would have acknowledged that Tammy was trans* but would have treated Tammy as her real name and female as her real gender while Thomas and male would be the name and gender that were coercively assigned at birth. Instead, by saying her name and pronouns initially as “Thomas” and “he” and framing “Tammy” and “she” as something that Tammy chose, the article treats the assigned name and gender as the natural and real baseline and her actual identity as something that was less authentic.

            I don’t think Carolyn did this purposefully. However, her writing still reflects the same problematic statements which she criticizes. If you refer to a trans* person as choosing their name and pronouns, you must also acknowledge that their old name and pronouns were coercively assigned without their consent. If you don’t, you are feeding into transphobic discourse that only views assigned gender as real and only views identified gender as culturally constructed or man-made.

            And the parents never had a Thomas. They always had a daughter that they named Thomas without her consent because a doctor told them when she was born that she a boy.

          • Everyone’s name was assigned to them without their consent. I fucking hate my first name because no one spells it right. Whatever point you are trying to make, the indignation that Tammy was named Thomas “without her consent” and the implication that the doctors at the hospital were part of some conspiracy to make Tammy a boy is a stupid argument. The article discusses the couple’s realization point that their son Thomas was actually their daughter Tammy. They are acknowledging who Tammy is while acknowledging who they mistakenly thought Tammy was. How the fuck is that offensive? They don’t still call her Thomas or refer to her as him. They’ve embraced who she is and are telling her story. It’s telling the story — at that point in the story, Tammy was “Thomas.” That’s the chronological progression. Not every trans person wants their story told and they don’t really want to talk about their life pre-transition, but Tammy and this couple seem pretty open about it. I see no problem, deliberate or otherwise. It’s this kind of over the top absurd PCness and indignation that is truly off-putting, I gotta say.

          • You seem to always post transphobic comments to articles about trans* people. You know what’s offputing? Your bigotry in the comments that you post on trans* articles on autostraddle. Why do you think that you understand what trans* experiences are more than trans* people? Trans* people do not need to tell their stories in a way that makes you, as a cis person, comfortable. And who do you think you are telling trans* people that their experiences of being COERCIVELY told at birth what gender they are allowed to be is “stupid”? That’s nice for you that you are totally cool with living the gender that the doctors told your parents you would be. However, for trans* people, the doctor-assigned gender is the problem. You, as a non-trans* person, are NOT the one that gets to decide what is not offensive to trans* people. How do you not understand that?

          • *sigh*

            “…Tammy, whose parents called her Thomas before her transition.” By framing it that way, it would have acknowledged that Tammy was trans* but would have treated Tammy as her real name and female as her real gender while Thomas and male would be the name and gender that were coercively assigned at birth.”

            What explanation said above is completely reasonable and not overly PC that is so off putting to you. I think a trans* person should be allowed to tell their story however they see fit that does not negate their gender identity and what makes them feel comfortable. I may not be trans* but as an ally I think listening is really REALLY important to understanding why someone would have a problem with what Carolyn said before she rightfully edited her post.

          • I’m tempted to write a long-winded response but let me just put it to you this way:

            magiclovemuffin, how old were you when you came out as a lesbian? Were you a straight girl before then? Because everyone assumed you were. By saying that Tammy was “Thomas” before she came out as trans, you’re doing the exact same thing.

          • i think what mlm is saying is that the parents referred to their child as thomas and carolyn refers to her as “thomas” when referencing the parts of the story when tammy was still referred to as “thomas.” if “thomas”‘s name was “alex”, and she chose not to change it, then this argument wouldn’t even come up. i understand the argument about the gender pronouns, but i think criticizing her using “thomas” when describing the part of the story for which tammy went by “thomas” is a bit reaching.

            tammy’s parents use that name when referring to tammy’s past. why is it that a commenter’s idea of what is PC overrides the personal choice within that family on how to discuss their child?

            i consider myself queer now and have a girlfriend but i sometimes talk about “when i was straight” when i talk about the time period when i had a boyfriend and no idea that one day i’d be dating women although i thought about them a lot. other people might think i shouldn’t talk that way for PC reasons, but you have to respect a person and their family’s individual right to use the language THEY feel comfortable with.

          • annika, my point is simply that *I* am not the one, as you put it, “saying that Tammy was “Thomas” before she came out as trans.” Tammy’s very loving and supportive parents were. I don’t read any of their comments as diminishing or disrespecting Tammy’s identity. I don’t think acknowledging Tammy’s past, including her birth name and assumed gender = wrong. Carolyn wrote the article as the parents presented the story, and she is being called transphobic. I just think that’s wrong and frankly, a bit of crying wolf. Why not save the angry lectures for people who actually hate trans people? Doesn’t seem that Carolyn is one of them. But what do I know? I’ve already been called transphobic, so maybe my defense of her is hardly helpful. I just think it’s bullshit and overly alarmist.

          • Basically, that logic states “why don’t you save critiques and accusations of homophobia for people who actually physically attack gay people?”

            If someone writes an article critiquing media representations of trans* people, then they open themselves up to critique of their own representation of trans* people. Simple as that. Carolyn critiqued other writers for using “Thomas” in her piece, yet she herself used Thomas. That is problematic. The way that the parents discuss Tammy is their own business. The way that a writer on a queer website who is critiquing media transphobia discusses Tammy is a totally different matter.

          • “magiclovemuffin strikes again,” catchy name. I never told you what should or should not offend you. I understand that being transgender must be incredibly difficult, for a lot of reasons and I don’t purport to understand how transgender people feel. But I don’t think you help make your point when you get angry and act like it is an incredibly shameful and hateful act to acknowledge that a transgender individual was born a different gender, even after the individual (or in the case of this child, the parents), have made it clear they want to tell that story. And then, the added outrage that, in general, parents have done something wrong by calling their child who was born with the physical sex of a male a boy’s name, makes it even harder. Is it coercive, which implies something malicious, or is just kind of how things are done and the parents in this case corrected themselves when they learned of Tammy’s real identity? I think any point you wanted to make about this article and the tone would be far more effective without the strong implication that parents who opt to name their child a boy’s or girl’s name based on biological sex have done something wrong.

          • the logic, I read it as a narrative, storytelling choice. In newspaper speak, it was an anecdotal lede. The start of the article plopped the audience into the moment when Tammy’s parents realized she was Tammy — at that moment, their daughter was named Thomas. I see what you are saying, but I just think the point of that was not to disrespect Tammy at all, but to paint the picture that Tammy’s parents had painted for us. When Carolyn criticizes other writers for calling Tammy “Thomas,” note that they do it for the entire stories and the tone is incredulous of Tammy’s gender identity throughout. That is not the situation with the Autostraddle story.

          • You said some really cissexist stuff in your last comment, especially the bit about a trans* person being “born a different gender.” I was not born a boy.

            You admit that you have no idea what it’s like to be trans*. So please listen to what actual trans* people have to say. And if someone calls you out on something you said that was problematic, don’t immediately get defensive and accuse them of “over the top absurd PCness.”

            Part of being an activist is questioning societal norms and not accepting systematic oppression because it’s “just kind of how things are done.”

          • I swear when people who talk out their ass about issues that do not relate to them and have the nerve to say “you’re being too PC.*waaah*”

            I can’t even….

          • annika, I think it’s pretty clear that I meant born to physically have a body that did not match her gender and I was just not entirely articulate in that sentence. I am glad if you don’t word things perfect, according to you or anyone else, everytime, you are automatically “cissexist.” It really just comes off as policing semantics and PCness when I see the need to call someone transphobic or cissexist when they misspeak, ignoring the context of what they are saying and focusing on a misplaced or forgotten word. The fingerpointing and anger is what’s super off-putting and I was recommending there may be a better way to communicate concerns. Honestly, you (including the anonymous person above) sound super hostile about it. Rather than have someone like Carolyn write what I think was a very trans-positive, it would almost be better to avoid discussing trans issues altogether, because someone is going to go apeshit and start calling the author a bigot or their writing “problematic,” which is code for “doesn’t agree with me exactly.” Honestly, fuck this. I’ve given my opinion and you can think, or go apeshit about, whatever you want.

  11. Is it ok to be using a Facebook photo of this kid? Especially since you got it from the Daily Mail.

    The idea that you’re using a picture of a child that was probably stolen and published without Tammy’s parents’ (or Tammy’s!) consent makes me really uncomfortable.

  12. They sound like awesome parents. <3 The transphobic assholes covering this at other media outlets can GTFO.

  13. Call me transphobic (because I am sure someone will) but I don’t think giving a child hormones sounds safe or like a good idea. The child is 11 and basically lacks the secondary sex characteristics (voice deepening, thickening hair) etc. that transitioning is intended to reverse. The article states that she is delaying puberty and she would need to switch over to taking estrogen supplements anyway in a couple years. I guess… why not wait a couple years, at least? It seems, I dunno, unsafe to use that kind of treatment on a child when it doesn’t really seem necessary in this case. I mean, on the safety issue, my freaking Tylenol has special directions for children under 12. I’m not saying she should be forced to live as a boy and play with trucks, but hormone therapy seems slightly reckless to me. Maybe I’ve been getting bad information, but I thought generally it was accepted that a transgender individual needs therapy for a specific prolonged period of time and should be at least 18 before undergoing physical changes. Have those guidelines changed? I think it’s great these parents are letting their child be who she wants to be and are concerned with the child’s happiness, it’s just the drug treatment I have concerns about.

    • Let me try to clear some of this up for you. They’re not giving Tammy a full HRT regimen (like I take) at age 11; they are ensuring that testosterone does not induce a male puberty which (speaking from my own personal experience) would no doubt be very traumatic for her. At 14, she will have the option to begin taking estrogen at an age that many cis girls begin puberty. I don’t really see how this is reckless at all.

      And a note on HRT (specifically for trans women): it doesn’t reverse the effects of testosterone like facial structure or a deeper voice- once the vocal cords are thickened, the only options are voice therapy or risky (and ineffective) surgery. If Tammy was forced to wait until age 18 to begin hormones, many of these permanent testosterone-induced changes would have already occurred. It’s clear that Tammy is a girl. I knew by age 11 too. Her parents are doing the right thing by sparing her the heartache of having to undo the effects of a puberty she didn’t want in the first place.

    • I don’t think you’re being transphobic. My initial reaction to placing a child on hormone therapy was one of trepidation. My first instinct was to ask ‘what if you cause some irreparable damage’ ‘what’s the harm in waiting until Tammy is older and knows for sure’ etc.

      Then I thought about the fact that I knew I was gay when I was a kid.I didn’t necessarily always have the language to express what I knew to be true about myself but that didn’t change who I was. I’m guessing it’s probably the exact same situation for Tammy she knows this part of herself and should be fully entitled to grow up being who she is and not have to wait until she’s 18. Also you can see that Tammy’s parents clearly want what is best for their child I doubt they would allow her to undergo any sort of treatment that would harm her.

      I’m not a trans individual but I have an ex who is. When we where dating he hadn’t transitioned in fact I don’t think he had told anyone. By the time he started transitioning he was in his mid to late twenties. He suffered pretty badly from depression his whole life and did some pretty awful things to himself because of it. However once he transitioned he got a lot better, but the transition itself brought on a whole new set of complications in his life.

      From my perspective that’s a long time to live not being able to be yourself. I can only imagine that if he had been given the freedom as a child to be who he was and not who people thought he should be he would have had a much happier life. I think Tammy is being given a chance to grow up so she wont ever have to back track on her identity and that can only be a good thing

      • The article above said the therapy she’s on is reversible up until a certain point, I guess, which answers the question of whether Tammy is just, well, not really sure what she’s feeling. This is not to at all discount Tammy’s feelings or identity — I knew I was gay when I was younger than 11, but if I had told anyone I am positive people would’ve said I was too young to know that. I just think it’s interesting that a doctor who apparently deals with this as his practice said only 12% of the boys in study actually continued with the gender dysmorphia they experienced prior in life.

        With that 12% figure looming there, I wonder: Is all the treatment Tammy is receiving really entirely reversible? A person under 18 can’t even get a tattoo in the state I am from and I think there’s a minimum age of like 13 for ear piercing — things you can’t truly reverse completely. Gender reassignment seems a tad larger of an undertaking. So, going back to that 12%… You have to wonder if this therapy will make it more likely that “Thomas” will feel like Tammy or have no effect at all on whether the gender dysmorphia remains in tact. Knowing how difficult it has to be to have a physical body that doesn’t belong to you, it seems undesirable to “encourage” someone to maintain gender dysmorphia. Please don’t misunderstand my point — I think transgender people should be allowed to be transgender and encouraged to be themselves. I just mean, if the odds are against gender dysmorphia lasting, it seems like it was be undesirable to reduce those odds, if that makes sense. i.e. Given a likelihood of gender dysmorphia or no gender dysmorphia, wouldn’t the latter be preferable?

        I don’t know much about this subject. But it seems like there is more research to be done to really understand the effects this has on children, both physically and mentally. I am all for letting Tammy dress how she wants and use the pronoun she wants, but I do question this decision to insert drugs into situation at such a young age.

        • Doh, first sentence: “…answers the question of whether *IF* Tammy…” i.e. if Tammy does change her mind, it’s not too late, so that’s good to know, BUT… (continue with the rest of my post)

          • OMG, so many typos. And, I don’t know if I explained myself clearly. Basically, if this therapy takes the odds of continued gender dysmorphia from 12% to like, say, 90%, is that a good thing? Isn’t that undesirable, purely based on the added hardship trans people face? And is there a risk such treatment at such a young age is capable of effect just like that? Do we know? Is more research needed? Should we wait for more research before OKing this type of treatment for children?

            Bah, I can’t articulate myself tonight…

        • The 12% figure that you reference is from a study by Dr. Kenneth Zucker, who advocates for so-called “reparative treatments”, meaning that he would instruct parents to punish MAAB children as young as 3 for exhibiting “feminine behavior” or choosing to play with girls’ toys. Zucker’s approach to gender identity is just as awful as when people trying to cure their child of “homosexual tendencies.”

          He is also a proponent of performing genital surgery on intersex infants and coercively assigning them a gender:

          “Zucker supports the early intervention of children with ambiguous genitalia to be assigned and reared as female, or more generally as “the gender that carries the best prognosis for good reproductive function, good sexual function, normal-looking external genitalia and physical appearance, and a stable gender identity.”

          Zucker is a harmful and transphobic doctor and the results of his study are not an accurate representation of trans* children.

          You can read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Zucker and here: http://www.transadvocate.com/reparative-therapy-for-trans-youth-kenneth-zucker-is-different-from-george-rekers-how.htm

          • Hm, he is presented as an expert, not as someone with potentially harmful methods. I’ve never heard of the guy before… obviously. I’ll have to learn more about him and see what other studies by other researchers are out there. I know as a lesbian adult, my sexuality is impossible to change. But I can’t say I understand childhood development or what it’s like to be transgender at all, so this may be an interesting topic to read more about.

            Regardless, I’m not sure assuming that his study is flawed negates the concerns I expressed completely though. I do wonder if there is sufficient evidence at this point to say such chemical therapy is a good idea (or bad idea) at such a young age. I just wonder if it’s best for Tammy’s well being in the long run, physically and mentally.

          • Zucker is an expert. He is on the DSM task force that drafted the plans on how to treat us. He is also the person that conducted a bad study and drew incorrect assertions from it. He then took that study and those assertions based on it. He might be a perfectly reasonable person but it’s really hard to recognize you messed up.

            In any case the study was on young children not adolescents. The DSM V and the new WPATH guidelines both say that by adolescents (IE: 11-14) gender identity is fixed and will not change.

            It would be very rare for Tammy to change identities at this point. However, when you are making life altering permanent decisions for a child being exceedingly cautious is warranted. So they postpone puberty a few more years to give the kids every chance to change their minds.

            WPATH makes it very clear that doing nothing is not a neutral option but can have extreme negative implications on the psychological well being and long term success.

          • Before you accept what Zucker says, you might try to at least Google him and see what his reputation is… it’s like quoting Rick Santorum’s opinions about gay people as fact. Zucker’s statements about transitioning children are hugely messed up due to the fact that he lumps together femme-acting boys, ‘gender variant’ children and trans children. Again (if you’re actually interested in the subject of trans children, I recommend reading “The Transgender Child” by Stephanie Brill and Rachel Pepper where they actually discuss these issues seriously. If you’re going to “wonder” about the treatment of trans children I recommend first doing some research.

            The trans girl is NOT taking any kind of hormones. They are a class of drugs called GnRh Agonists. which cause the pituitary to not initiate puberty. These drugs have been used with non-trans children (and even adults in some situations) for many years as a way of delaying puberty in certain medical situations and even in cancer treatment. The impact of the drugs is COMPLETELY REVERSIBLE up to about a 4 year period (all that happens after stopping them is you commence a somewhat late puberty).

          • This was also helpful. If this is treatment that has been used for a long time on children and is shown to be reversible, safe, and as Christine explains, delays the decision-making process about transitioning until the child is older, this actually sounds like the most responsible course of action. Thanks. That’s pretty cool and it appears the only reasons this is a news story is because her parents are lesbians. That’s sort of infuriating, but hardly surprising.

    • Magiclovemuffin, you ARE transphobic. That’s why you seem to value more what cis people say (such as Zucker, Carolyn, and Tammy’s parents) about trans* people than what actual trans* people say about their experiences, how they view themselves, and how they should be talked about. Also, the very fact that the Autostraddle Social Group “Gold Star Lesbians” which you started is only open to women with vaginas. Thus, you are explicitly excluding all trans* women lesbians who haven’t had bottom surgery. That is transphobic. When you do things like that, it’s hard to view your intentions as innocent when you comment on trans* articles. If you are not able to listen to what actual trans* people say and you think you deserve endless patience when you say ignorant things, then don’t post comments on trans* articles. You don’t know what it’s like to be trans* at all, so I don’t understand why you think that you have something to say on the subject other than honest questions.

      • What the fuck? I can’t even… Yikes. I’d actually like to hear what Tammy has to say and would value her opinion on this most… but she’s 11.

          • Um, what? My point was she’s just a kid and her parents spoke for her in CNN’s piece. We never got to hear from Tammy. (But yes, I am transphobic for caring what her parents had to say. I don’t want to say ‘overreact much?’ but… sigh.)

  14. So parents listen to their kid and try to help their kid be happy and that’s supposed to be a bad thing? These parents rock, and I wish the best to Tammy.

  15. Yup, that’s bad information. You definitely don’t need to be 18 to undergo hormone therapy. It’s not unsafe if you are taking it as directed by your doctor.
    Also, why should someone wait till puberty to experience undesirable gender characteristics when they can avoid it beforehand?

  16. Whenever I read stories about trans kids, it always make me super happy. I’m not really sure why but maybe because they’re so brave, and the fact that they know themselves well enough to figure out their gender identity and such at young age. Or at least know somethings up to step out of “the norm” and what people are telling them what they should like because of certain body parts they have.

    This just makes me super excited for the French film Tomboy.

  17. Zucker and related transphobic assholes, aside, this is great news and I hope the start of what can maybe, hopefully, possibly, be a new protocol for trans kids.

    I also hope mainstream cisnormative society can, hopefully, (though I’m more pessimistic) possibly, catch up and give more trans kids the space and chance to actually be able to say that they’re trans, unlike so many us could at that age.

  18. It worries me when we attack our allies over minor misunderstandings. They are friends.

    It’s like tge people that heckled Obama while he openly stated and was working towards rolling back DADT.

    While I do see the misunderstandings and ignorance here just as on CNN, what I don’t see is an actual assault on our identities. That’s a huge difference.

    I’m glad we are actually being engaging and seeking to understand.

    When I saw this all go by on CNN I would see people post heartfelt stories about themselves, give in depth responses to the critics, and really represent trans* people well. Even many cis people… But the negative comments were overwhelming and just flooded out any chance to have a productive dialog.

    So I applaud everyone who is here reading and trying to learn more and think through the issues raised.

    I also want to extend an open invite to anyone who wants to ask something but is afraid to for any reason…just ask me in a message. I won’t be offended and will do my best.

  19. MLM

    #1: You think it’s acceptable to call trans* people’s feelings about their own experiences of being trans* and media depiction of their trans*ness “bullshit,” “over the top absurd,” “stupid,” “offputting,” “crying wolf,” “alarmist,” “apeshit” and that doesn’t include all the things you said in the Sebastian queer women piece. Yet, when someone calls you out on the fact that you, as someone who has NO IDEA what it means to be trans*, said something offensive (saying that a trans girl has male sex) and cissexist, then you start boohooing about how the mean trans* people are “hostile.”

    #2: No one called Carolyn a bigot. People only called you a bigot. Everyone says problematic things about race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. Good people and activists LISTEN when other people tell them that something they said was problematic and learn. You just whine about how you should be able to say nasty, ignorant things about trans* people without having trans* people call you out.

    #3: What you deem PC, other people call not being an offensive douchebag. Would you call out a straight person who called you a dyke or is that “too PC” for you?

    #4: You keep saying variations of “I don’t see why that’s offensive”, etc. Cis people do not get to decide what is not offensive about discussions of trans* people, straight people do not get to decide what is not offensive about gay people, white people do not get to decide what is not offensive about black people, etc.

    #5: Stop trolling.

    • MLM is feeling attacked and she is clearly the subject of scorn here and from my perspective her feelings are justified.

      She is getting hit with the combined weight of OUR frustration at the treatment we have had.

      We represent a fraction of a percent of the population, cis-LGB represent a significantly larger chunk but we take the brunt of all the hate crimes because for many of us, like me, we waited too long to come out and we can’t hide in the crowd.

      I don’t know why there is so much anger directed at MLM but I really think it’s being unfairly projected.

      I don’t like what I am seeing. I don’t like her harsh words spoken in frustration nor do I like the mean spirited and condemning comments from those attacking her.

      I also don’t like how those comments are coming anonymously.

      It wasn’t Annika that is attacking her…Annika only said she was saying cissexist things not that she was cissexist and there is a difference. Intent.

      It’s one thing to point out where something is cissexist or transphobic it’s another thing to be brutal and condemning of the person.

      I don’t like what I am seeing. It makes me feel ashamed.

      She is asking good questions and thinking about the issues raised by the article, she has a right to do that and not be attacked by us. We have to educate our allies and our enemies.

      It’s really just very counterproductive to attack our natural allies because they don’t say what you want to hear how you want to hear it.

      • The reason that there is negativity toward MLM is because the exact same thing happened with her already on Sebastian’s piece on dating queer women. She said something offensive, people called her out, and then she acted offended that people weren’t patting her on the head for saying hurtful things. Also, the exact same arguments were made about scaring potential allies. Alyssa summed it up well (and again, it was all about MLM)

        “Re: scaring off potential allies. Fuck that noise. If someone is stepping on my neck and they’re making tone arguments about how nicely I have to ask to have them kindly remove their foot, then they’re NOT POTENTIAL ALLIES. Not to get all Pol Pot, but seriously, there is no gain in keeping them in the movement. I am not a dog, and I don’t need your bone.”http://www.autostraddle.com/trans-men-and-queer-women-whos-a-boy-to-date-103432/#comment-131637

        “I agree that asking difficult questions is part of the work that allies have to do. But there are right ways and wrong ways. It’s not magic; it’s basic civility and respect.
        I was referring to magiclovemuffin, who said something incredibly busted and insulting, was checked gently by Definition, freaked out “OMG YOU CALLED ME BIGOT!!!” and made a tone argument, was backed up by bra (don’t you get that us marginalized folk need to snivel to get allies?), was explained to by semantics that she needed to do some self-education, then got all huffy “I WAS JUST BEING NICE; I DESERVE A COOKIE.”
        Then in a parallel thread she said something else busted, refused to defend it directly and just said “WELL THAT’S NOT WHAT MY POST WAS ABOUT”, then left in a huff.
        That about covers it.
        We need allies like her like we need canker sores.
        Let’s break down why this is crap:
        1. Tone policing – marginalized folks don’t have to be nice when talking about being oppressed.
        2. Sniveling – needing allies does not mean losing our souls; it does more harm than good.
        3. Cookies – you don’t get a cookie for being a decent human being. We tear down men who say, “I DON’T THINK WOMEN SHOULD BE RAPED,” and expect a frickin’ medal. In the same way, cis allies need to treat us with a bare minimum of respect without an award.
        4. Backhanded compliments – Just because you intended it to be nice doesn’t mean it’s actually nice. “OMG that dress makes you less ugly!” is not a compliment. Neither is, “You look really good for a trans woman,” or “I have trans* friends as long as they’re nice to me and not uppity.”
        5. Demanding to control the terms of engagement – you can’t say, just forget about that really shitty thing I did to you because that’s not what this is really about.” http://www.autostraddle.com/trans-men-and-queer-women-whos-a-boy-to-date-103432/#comment-131672

        Any time MLM posts on a trans* article, she says something offensive and then gets defensive when people call her out.

        • I learned A LOT about myself in that discussion, did a shit-ton of reading and yea…never again I would do the nicey talk thing it’s rage inducing and I tend to break out when stressed, I NEED TO STAY SEXY!

        • Ok. I get it.

          I don’t think she is being that bad and I think she is asking some good questions.

          I am treated very poorly by my wife, by my current pastor, by some family members, and by some of my extended social network. I have no real trans* friends except online.

          So given the treatment there…MLM seems very reasonable.

          I also hate drama and conflict. I very much prefer diplomacy and peacemaking when it is possible.

          I think I see what I am doing and I understand why. I have been allowed to live on the masters property and fed but treated liked an unloved pet…and what I want is to live in the house I grew up in.

          Where you are is you left the property and bought the house next door and could care less about the master.

          I guess, since I am outside the house…it could be said I’m knocking on the door and disturbing the sleep….but I am sure as hell not being treated well.

          The irony here is you are treating MLM like the master but she is out of the house too. She is allowed to be on the porch but she isn’t allowed in either.


          • First and foremost: I am so sorry that you are treated poorly by the people in your life because of your identity. I hope that the community you find online is of some comfort, and I hope you find people in your day to day life who appreciate and love you.

            Unrelated to most of the discussion at hand, but I love this concept:

            “You left the property and bought the house next door and could care less about the master.” I think that’s such a beautiful description of queerness. I guess then the question becomes: how do we queer the house next door? The neighborhood? The world? I like the idea that I have “left the property…and could care less about the master,” but I know that it can’t stop there. Producing change requires more than just buying a new house, so to speak. (I am guilty of retreating to my queer bubble when existing in the world gets too hard, but I’m working on less preaching to the choir and more encouraging change amongst people who don’t necessarily want it…that’s why this dialogue is particularly interesting to me, I suppose.)

      • Hey,

        I lurk, comment and from what I see MLM is not being malicious, plus she is not a *bad* person.


        It’s not just MLM but any person within a minority who tend to have a very myopic view of their relative want for equality. This can manifest in a variety of ways that do to relative privileges, empathy, human decency and critical thinking skills can make for some messy and beautiful discussions. For me personally I still have trouble figuring out my ignorance about trans* and ability issues. When I ask questions I find myself accidentally using cissexist, ablist(sp) language.

        When I am called out about it, I *TRY* NOT TO GET DEFENSIVE, I DO NOT DISMISS IT AS THEM BEING TOO PC/SENSITIVE/EMOTIONAL, because it’s not about me, IT’S NOT ABOUT ME!!! This is a safe space for a lot of people in LBGT magical rainbow of glitter and unicorns and yes I love the fact you have the patience to answer questions about trans* identity or issues with a smile. Other (understandably) may not have your patience or tact when dealing with allies like myself or curious people like MLM.

        Then again I hope with time others like MLM will learn to listen and try to see where the person is coming from especially when the article is about them and not about her identity as a lesbian woman. I am not saying allies to silence themselves from asking questions and I am hoping allies like myself for whatever reason misspeak do not get defensive when corrected/called out. Seriously allies/*this probably applies to everyone* have some fucking decency because it not your show today, not today my fellow homogay.

        The best thing I learned in participating in these types of discussion where I wanted to learn and become an ally is knowing when to shut the fuck up and JUST LISTEN!!!

        • bra, you’ve always been a commendable example of someone who makes mistakes, acknowledges her ignorance, and strives to become better educated. I think it’s insulting to you if you lump MLM in the same category, since there has been no development on her behalf. And MLM’s overly-defensive attitude extends beyond just transphobia, so it’s not like this is one blemish on an otherwise impeccable record.

    • Wow, OK, I stopped following this thread and only saw this because I got messages from people apologizing for the character attacks on me.

      First off, let me just be care that I don’t care what some anonymous person thinks. I can’t promise I’ve always been right or understanding, but to say that I have some problem with trans people in general or am an enemy to trans people is just false. Literally two days ago I defended a trans person to a coworker of mine and explained to him proper pronounce use to the best of my knowledge. If you want to think I have a problem with trans people, that’s not my problem, I don’t care and go on ahead.

      Second, I appreciate the ad hominem attacks on me, but I think this really proves some of the points I made, which is that a stated lack of knowledge, openly asking questions and speaking on issues as a stated outsider are treated with hostility and offense at every turn. Once the wrong word is used or the wrong thing is said, hope is lost. I think there is a lot of educating that can be done on trans issues. Calling someone transphobic or cissexist when they don’t get it right at every turn or show a level of genuine ignorance does not create a dialogue, it stops it. It feels like a knee-jerk reaction of policing semantics and ignoring the substantive points being discussed. So yes, I’ve felt attacked by being labeled, implied or directly, as a hateful person when I’ve made an effort to step out of what I understand. I find that I’ll make one comment on an article, and the rest of the thread turns into a bitchfest about the offensive language I used. You’ve implied with your “dyke” analogy that I’ve run around calling you a “tranny” or something, which is absurd and blatantly intellectually dishonest. This just shows the level of irrationality. And, and by the way, if you think I am offensive, all I can say is good luck to you.

      So, bottom line, I’ll comment wherever I want and you are more than welcome to ignore me and move on. Don’t let some person on the internet named after fictional baked goods ruin your day. Also, I really don’t have an interest in following this public bickerfest further, but if you want to register a real username, I’d be happy to chat. I do wish you the best, regardless.

  20. And what about all the heterosexual parents with trans kids?

    How is this possibly cause and effect?

    How about, “Tammy is a girl. Her parents love her. She has adorable glasses. Deal with it.” Can that be a thing?

  21. She looks just like a little Ellen Page!

    I am just sorry that her parents have gone public – maybe they had no choice – idk. This forum has sane a good people on it – the average does NOT, and I will not anger myself by looking at the bile.

  22. I don’t think folks who f up the pronouns on accident should be verbally drawn and quartered. I don’t generally sweat it if someone I know accidentally calls me “he” or uses my old name (Ryan). I only get upset if they do it to be an asshole. (My parents do this sometimes.)

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