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.

Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

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

    IT Project Manager

    Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    IT Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album