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Dear Christine, Explaining in Ecorse

| July 17, 2017

Dear Christine, My partner and I are a lesbian couple and very active in the LGBT community. Recently I’ve been questioning my gender identity and I’m thinking seriously of transitioning from female to male gender. I’m not sure how to explain my gender changes. I was always more of the tomboy type. I’m coming to realize that I don’t have a gender identity crisis, but I identify as gender queer, and being explicitly male or female is not really the issue for me.

Explaining homosexuality to our children was a challenge. They are 6 and 10 years old and they are fine with having two moms. The whole family is very accepting of our being a lesbian couple. Our parents are confused about why I want to change, when I so confidently identified as lesbian. How should I go about explaining transgender issues to our kids, and our parents and families? I find that gender clarity is very important to my family and society in general, but it isn’t so important to me.  Explaining in Ecorse


Dear Explaining, My question is: is it necessary to undergo gender transition if identifying as male or female is not a big deal for you? What does it mean to you to be gender queer? Do you look more feminine than you are comfortable with, and you prefer to have a more masculine appearance? It sounds like cross dressing isn’t going enough for you. What would you say has changed that makes being female difficult? Is it the physical body? The body functions? Your voice pitch? Clearly you have progressed in your own thoughts about what it means to be you, from being a tomboy, to a lesbian, to gender queer. Once you’ve sorted out these questions, you will be better able to explain your understanding of yourself, your identity, to family and friends. They may not understand, as this is complicated in our society where there is a duality of gender and we are all expected to be one or the other exclusively. However, nature is not so neat and tidy. There are exceptions to the rule of male and female. There are intersex people, who have the secondary sex characteristics of both sexes, and there are people who are genetically female though they present as male. This has happened at the Olympics, where there has been some concern that a biological male will compete with other women, and have an unfair advantage. So, like FB says: It’s complicated! Hopefully your family will listen to your experience of life in your body, and of what works for you and what doesn’t, and they will support you and love you, even if they don’t understand your need to be queer. Tell them clearly if you choose to use a different name, or prefer other pronouns than they are used to using. You might take that name and gender change all the way to hormones, surgical gender reassignment, and legal name change steps, or you may not. It’s always your choice. Encourage your kids and your parents to ask questions, and give them time to let all this sink in, and maybe they’ll have more questions after the first discussions. Christine Cantrell, PhD, Psychologist

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067

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