The new season of the ABC program "Dancing with the Stars" features Chaz Bono, the child of Sonny Bono and Cher who recently underwent surgery to change sexes. CNN.com has published a report on the children--1 in 30,000 or 1 in 1,000, depending on which study you read--who are, from very young ages, transgender. These kids can face painful childhood experiences that stem from their feelings that they were born with the wrong sexual anatomy. From CNN:
Transgender children experience a disconnect between their sex, which is anatomy, and their gender, which includes behaviors, roles and activities. In Thomas' case, he has a male body, but he prefers female things likes skirts and dolls, rather than pants and trucks.
Gender identity often gets confused with sexual orientation. The difference is "gender identity is who you are and sexual orientation is who you want to have sex with," said Dr. Johanna Olson, professor of clinical pediatrics at University of Southern California, who treats transgender children....
...When a child starts identifying with the opposite gender, there is no way to determine whether it's temporary or likely to become permanent.
"It's important to acknowledge the signs of gender dysphoria, especially for children," said Eli Coleman, who chaired a committee to update treatment guidelines for the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, an international medical group meeting this week in Atlanta, Georgia. "By not addressing it, it could be really more damaging for the child than not."
"It's a very difficult area and there are a lot of children who have gender nonconformity. They will simply grow out of that. Many of them later on identify as gay or lesbian, rather than transgender."
The American Psychological Association warns that "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.