How to deal with a transexual teenage daughter (by a mother who knows)


When Jack Green was four years old, he told his mother 'God made a mistake, I should have been a girl'.

“As soon as he was old enough to toddle he was in my wardrobe, trying on my clothes. When he was two his nursery rang and said ‘Jack doesn’t play with the other boys, when the dressing up box comes out he goes straight for the pinafore’. I said ‘I know, let him get on with it, he’ll grow out of it,’” Susie Green recalls.

But that didn’t happen.  Once a cousin had researched dysphoria and alerted Jack to the possibility of gender reassignment surgery there was no equivocation about what needed to be done.  On her 16 birthday, with her mother by her side, Jack Green went into surgery in a hospital in Thailand and woke up as Jackie.

The number of young people seeking gender reassignment in Britain is at an all-time high. The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust says the number of children referred to them for assessment has risen from 97 in 2009 to 208 last year, and is on the up.

For the parents of children with gender issues, like Susie Green, a 43-year-old IT consultant in Leeds, the emotional toll can be great. By the time Jackie went for an assessment and started ‘blockers’ - injections designed to stop the release of hormones - at the age of 14, she had attempted to kill herself 7 times. According to Mermaids UK, a support group for the people with dysphoria and their families, feelings of loss, guilt and confusion for those on the sidelines are par for the course.

In her case, Green says, it had been obvious since her child was very young that “something wasn’t right”, and seeing Jack struggle to tally a feminine sense of self with an increasingly masculine body made fully supporting her eldest child her only option. Her younger children only ever knew Jack as Jackie so that made things easier. But for Jackie’s father it was more difficult.

“He really struggled to deal with it,” Green says. “Jackie’s dad was insistent it was a phase, but going to the clinic opened his eyes to the fact you can’t make a child something they are not. One of the first things the therapist said was ‘would you make your younger sons wear a dress?’”.

In the UK, the minimum age for trans-man and trans-woman surgery is 18, with a long period of assessment before it would ever be approved. As many as 80% of children who were diagnosed with dysphoria before they reached puberty did not have the condition after puberty, according to the Endocrine Society (although some campaigners dispute that figure), so it is general practice to wait until the mid-teens before undergoing treatment.

Most people affected display symptoms in childhood. However, according to the Gender Identity Research and Education Society, the growth in adult referrals is growing at a rate of 11 % per year, while “presentation for treatment among youngsters is growing more rapidly at 34% per annum”.

Even if isurgery is approved – a procedure costing £10,000 a pop - before undergoing surgery candidates must live as their preferred sex full time for at least a year, a process known as ‘real life experience’. After that, there is 18 months of preparatory hormone treatment, along with therapy.

Jackie started the transition when she was 10: “The clinic told us to allow her to dress up at home but to remain a boy outside of the house to make it easier in case she ever wanted to go back.” One of her friends, a teacher, said “Don’t let him do it, ‘it’ll be awful, he’ll be annihilated at school’. I knew there would be issues but Jackie was going downhill.  There was no way she could cope with pretending to be something she wasn’t.”

In the end, Susie Green’s child was kicked, spat at, and taunted by kids and adults.

At that point things got so bad that, when Jackie was 14, she went with her mother to Boston for the necessary ‘blocker’ injections, before flying to Thailand to have the operation two years before it is legal in the UK. In total the process cost around £20,000. But it was worth every penny, she says. Now Jackie has a longterm boyfriend, whom she met months after the op; she has a job as a sales assistant and is pursuing a career in modelling. Her story is being told in a BBC3 documentary ‘ Transsexual Teen, Beauty Queen’ which airs tonight.

“If she’d waited until she was 18 and gone through the NHS, theoretically we’d still be waiting but actually I don’t think she’d be here,” Susie says. “She’d told me: ‘I won’t grow into a man.  If that starts to happen, I will kill myself’.’ ”

In statistics

The number of young people seeking referral for is growing by 34% per year

The number of children referred to the Tavistock clinic for assessment rose from 97 in 2009 to 208 last year

An operation on the NHS cost around £10,000 a time, and the waiting time is around two years.

i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

    salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

    Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

    Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

    Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower