What are the steps for
transitioning in Alberta?
There is no one path.
Each transgender or non-binary person, minor or adult, has their own path to take that is right for them. It takes time to process their thoughts and feelings. They need to mentally and emotionally process every step they may choose to take.
Depending on their age, youth especially need to be appropriately educated by professionals on the options, and learn the benefits and risks.
Children may transition socially, possibly changing their name, pronouns, what they wear or hairstyles, to name a few. Legal name and possibly gender marker changes may be considered, keeping in mind factors such as the age and preferences of the child.
For children entering puberty, parents may wish to learn about hormone blockers as puberty will push their child into body development that they may not want (deeper voice, developing breasts, growing hair in new places, or whatever other changes are expected).
That all said, the “steps” can include:
* getting educated in the options
* finding support in the trans community, whether medical or social or other
* considering finding a psychologist who works with trans adults and children
* finding affirming doctors and a clinic where there are trans or non-binary affirming practitioners to consult with
* making a tentative plan after consultation with medical professionals – but be prepared that the child may not be ready to proceed with (or may wish to change) the plan that they may have expressed or planned
It is helpful that parents find their own support as they support their children. It can helps to talk to other parents who “get it” and can offer their knowledge and experience, as well as their recommendations for what worked for their child or themselves.
See Rowan Jetté Knox's post below.
Rowan Jetté Knox
"Advocate, bestselling author, speaker, trauma survivor. he/him"
"No, children are not being "mutilated" by trans-affirming healthcare"
No, children are not being "mutilated" by trans-affirming healthcare.
If you are being told this, you are being lied to.
Let me explain how affirming trans kids usually looks:
1. A child/teen comes out as trans. Their parents take them to their doctor, who will usually refer them to a team of specialists at a gender identity clinic. These are usually inside hospitals and involve mental health professionals, endocrinologists (hormone specialists) and nurses.
2. The team will perform an assessment that involves sessions with the child and their caregivers. These assessments are very thorough. They examine both the possibility of gender dysphoria and any accompanying mental health issues like anxiety and depression (which are common in people experiencing untreated gender dysphoria - it's hard to live with that level of self-incongruence every day.)
3. if gender dysphoria is found to be the case, the team takes several things into consideration, including a child's age, level of support they receive from those around them, and what has already been done outside of medical care to alleviate that dysphoria.
4. If a child is pre-pubescent, there is no need for any medical treatment. Young children will often socially transition to some extent, and that's it. This can include everything from dressing in ways that are more comfortable to them to using a new name and pronouns.
NO SURGERIES ARE PERFORMED ON YOUNG CHILDREN. NO HORMONES ARE ADMINISTERED. These common misconceptions drive a lot of anti-trans sentiment.
5. When a child reaches puberty or is in puberty at the time they are found to be dysphoric, puberty blockers may be administered. These have been in use in young people for decades - not just trans kids but cis kids with precocious (early) puberty, too. They have been rigorously tested over the years, and any potential side effects are closely monitored. The biggest concern is bone density loss. Endocrinologists will usually prescribe vitamin D and calcium to counter this.
Puberty blockers simply hit the pause button and allow for some time where unwanted changes to the body aren't happening. They are fully reversible. We know this because children with precocious puberty will take them for a time, stop taking them, and then go through their natal puberty.
Studies show very few kids who are seen at gender identity clinics step off puberty blockers - these kids tend to know who they are. But when they do stop taking them, they experience their natal puberty, too.
6. After a time, a trans teen on puberty blockers will begin hormone replacement therapy, or HRT.
"But why can't they wait until they're 18?"
a. because a growing body needs hormones of some kind, so remaining on blockers indefinitely can cause harm, and
b. because if we deny blockers until adulthood, the body goes through puberty in what the child strongly believes is the wrong direction, causing many irreversible changes and often leading to intense depression/suicidality
HRT is the first step in a trans person's medical care that is not entirely reversible. However, there are two important things to note:
a. Teens generally have a good while on blockers before they start HRT. It is not a quick process.
b. Doctors administer these hormones at slow, incremental doses. Changes happen over years, not overnight. (Anecdotally, my own trans child only had their estrogen bumped up every 6 months. This gives plenty of time to potentially hit the brakes & reverse course)
7. Surgery. This is the big sticking point for a lot of people who oppose gender transition in minors.
There are a few things to consider.
a. not all trans people need or want surgery.
b. For those who do, most trans teens don't access them until adulthood.
c. Of those who do, only very limited procedures are available to them.
d. Once again, no young children are having surgery or being "mutilated"
An important thing I want progressive people who are concerned about trans teens giving consent to gender affirming care to consider:
The laws allowing trans teens to give medical consent are the same laws that allow ALL teens in that part of the world to give consent to ANY medical care. This can include birth control, abortion, cancer treatments, and other critical care that affects their body autonomy. It's a slippery slope to try and remove this out of "concern."
"But what if a trans kid regrets their decision to transition?"
Studies show that fewer than 1% of trans people experience any kind of regret after undergoing gender affirming care. It's an extraordinarily low number by medical standards.
Lower still is the number of people who once believed they were trans and now don't feel that way.
The numbers don't lie. This is the only proven treatment, and it works well for nearly everyone of all ages.
I hope this helped shed some light on what is an often misunderstood and misrepresented population.
Trans kids deserve our understanding and our protection.
And by "protection", I mean ensuring they have access to the care that is proven to help them. Let's make sure we keep fighting for them.
Thank you from a trans person and the parent of a trans kid.
By Outreach Southern Alberta.
"The choice on whether to medically transition is an important one, and only one that you can answer. There is often pressure within the community, and in society to conform to binary standards of gender. For individuals of the trans community to undergo all forms of medical transition.
As a transgender individual, you need to assess for yourself what forms of medical transition are avenues that you want to pursue for yourself, which may look different than other people’s choices. Gender is an expansive spectrum of unique identities and expressions that cannot be described by simple terms, and what you choose to do is valid, including choosing to not undergo specific procedures."
ARTWORK CREDIT: Dangerous side effects of letting trans kids transition. By artist Sophie Labelle. Assigned Male Comics.
ARTWORK CREDIT: Believe trans youth. By artist Sophie Labelle. Assigned Male Comics.
Forbidding trans youth to transition is only going to make their mental health worse, mommy! By artist Sophie Labelle. Assigned Male Comics.
Sage advice from Mama Bear Liz Dyer
Liz Dyer, Founder of Mama Bears and Serendipodydodah-Home of the Mama Bears support groups. Sept 2021.
It's not uncommon for parents of trans kids to wonder if their kid, who has come out to them as a trans person, is "really" a trans person.
Parents often share many reasons with me why they have doubts and it's not that these parents I'm talking to are unsupportive - these are very supportive parents who are having trouble believing their kid is really a trans person because their kid didn't "show any signs" before they came out, or because their kid is not dressing the way they think a trans boy/man or trans girl/woman would dress, or because their kid is not saying what they expect a trans person to say about the way they feel.
Here's what I have been learning over the last few years from trans people, science and gender specialists:
------- No one can know if another person is "really" a transgender person. No one can know if another person is "really" male or female or non binary or gender queer or agender or bigender etc, etc, etc. A parent cannot figure this out for their child. A parent can only know what their child tells them about their gender identity.
------- There is not one way to be a transgender person and therefore, we have to trust our kids and accept what they tell us about their gender identity.
------- If they are not sure about their gender identity we should let them know there is no hurry, they can take their time in discovering their true self, we will support them through the process and they might find it helpful to talk to a counselor who is a gender specialist.
------- Many parents have what I call "gender expectations" and when their child doesn't meet those expectations they find it hard to understand what their child is sharing about themselves. Sometimes I even talk to trans people who are confused about their gender identity because they don't line up with the "gender expectations" they have. So, one thing I try to emphasize is that we need to stop trying to make trans people fit into binary gender boxes - that is not helpful and often times causes more confusion and delays the process of "knowing" that our kids are trying to achieve.
------- We also are beginning to realize that “insistent, consistent, and persistent,” while formerly helpful in determining if people are trans or not, may not be the best gauge in every situation. There are many trans people who did not present many signs (or any signs) before they came out. Some parents can look back and see signs, but others didn't see any evidence. All kinds of factors come into play when it comes to how and when a trans person shows evidence or signs of being trans ... things like personality, environment, level of gender dysphoria (which varies a lot), birth order and other factors can all play a part.
The bottom line is this:
------- There’s no one "right" way to be trans, no definitive set of guidelines that every trans person will follow, no definitive set of signs that a parent can look for.
------- And we also need to keep in mind that "transgender" is an umbrella term for the much larger gender spectrum, with an infinite number of possible combinations of identities.
One last thought ... it’s also not always the case that subtle or even obvious cues necessarily add up and mean someone is definitively transgender. There are plenty of males and females who are not trans or gender nonconforming, but by nature just seem to buck traditional or expected gender norms. There will be some people who think they are a trans person and later realize they are not a trans person and they do not fall under the transgender umbrella - instead they are just very non traditional when it come to gender expectations or what is considered to be gender norms. If your child is that person they will have to figure that out for themselves and let you know. It doesn't help your child for you to express your doubts to them. You help your child best by being supportive and believing what they tell you about themselves. If they come back to you at some point and say they were wrong you can once again support them and let them know things like: "yeah, that happens sometimes, thanks for letting me know, I'm always here for you, let me know what you need, I love you, I'm proud of you for continuing to strive to know your true self"
The best thing any of us can do, and teach our children to do, is to strive to know ourselves well ... and for most of us that will be a process that will continue throughout our whole life and that's okay."
Track your truth with this schedule planner, med reminder, transition journal.
By Transtastic (publisher). 2020.
"Track your transition to your true self with this Transition Tracker!
Keep track of your medical information and medication; emotional, mental and physical changes; schedule and appointments with this stylish and portable 6" x 9" journal. Note unexpected side effects to your medications and be better prepared for your medical appointments with your doctor, therapist, and/or transition team! Weekly prompts guide you through your journey into LIVING YOUR TRUTH!"