Crazy Mom Lets 7-Year-Old Son Become a Girl (VIDEO)

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child dancingWhat if your 7-year-old son liked to wear sequined dresses, preferred to play with Barbies instead of WWE action figures, and wanted to be referred to by a girl’s name instead of a boy’s? Where would you stand? How would you feel?

Lisa Ling's new show, Our America, on the Oprah Winfrey Network, introduced the country to a first grader in "Transgender Child: A Parent's Difficult Choice." His parents named him Harry. But when Harry was 5, he decided he wanted to be called Hailey because he felt more like a girl than a boy. His mom and dad, not knowing quite what to do, indulged his request. 

Now the child has completely taken on the identity of a little girl. And his parents, a conservative Christian couple who may have had some preexisting notions about what’s right and wrong from a Biblical perspective, were challenged to rethink everything they believed about gender and sexuality for the love of their baby, their second son turned their only daughter.



Seeing a child feel so strongly about his or her gender at such a young age that they ask to be called by a new name is enough to make any adult take pause. One thing we grown-ups can envy about kids is their inherent freedom to be their real, authentic selves — no pretensions, no baggage. By the end of elementary school, of course, they’re well on their way to being squeezed through the ringer of social conditioning, and their families, teachers, mentors, coaches, and other trusted adults put the finishing touches on those rigid expectations that box them in: Boys play rough and are good with numbers. Girls dress up with makeup and heels and read books. Blah blah blah.

But Hailey’s young life goes way, way beyond those crummy norms, and her parents have created a safe, nurturing environment where she can live comfortably and have friends and lead a relatively normal life, sans Lisa Ling and her camera crew stopping by to document her story. And while Hailey’s mother and father have my utmost respect for their obvious love and patience and their empathy for their child’s uniqueness, I have to wonder if they’re doing the right thing for her.

Part of a parent’s job description is to guide, shape, prepare, and love our kids, so that means we’d be crazy to play into our children’s whims and phases and let them run the show (although I know plenty of liberal, free-swingin’ moms and dads who do). It’s one thing to give the middle finger to that traditional boy/girl baggage and let your kids defy social convention. It’s quite another to let them adopt a completely different lifestyle, assume a completely different identity, and take on a completely different name when they’re not even old enough to write in cursive. I would let my daughter pick out what she wanted to wear when she was 5. It was an exercise in choice, a show of independence. I would not, however, let her tell me that she no longer wanted to be a girl and accept her moves to not be one.

I don't believe that children have the tools and information they need to make informed, reasonable decisions about their lives. It’s the reason responsible parents don’t let their kids get tattoos when they’re 10 or why they’re not allowed to ring in their 12th birthday with a shot of Patron. So certainly creating a completely new personhood based on not feeling like the gender they were born into seems like too much control for someone who, at the age Hailey made her transgender declaration, shouldn’t even be crossing a busy street by themselves.

This could very well be one of those normal phases that a child goes through, but I’m not naïve enough to say with certainty that Hailey will grow up and out from the desire to live her life as a young woman. She may not, and that’s cool. There will be more challenges piled on top of the load of crap that's already the companion messiness of adolescence. But until then, I think her mom and dad need to step their parenting game up because in the process of “letting her be herself,” she may end up not finding her real self at all. 

How would you handle your child's desire to lead a transgender lifestyle?


Image via oprah.com

boys, girls, tough topics

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thepr... thepragmatist

I'm torn on this, but I can't help but think that if the sex/gender was swapped here, a lot of people wouldn't feel so uncomfortable about it. If Hailey wanted to be called "Hal" and wear shorts and t-shirts and play sports, she'd just be a normal "tomboy" and most people wouldn't think twice.


Boys being feminine, however, get a lot of negative attention. Likely because we still consider masculine traits to be more valuable or "neutral" than feminine traits.


These parents are doing the best they know how, and while I think I may shy away from putting too many labels on kids that young and allowing them to explore without feeling like they have determined their entire life path, it seems better for them to be trying to accept than trying to get Harry/Hailey to conform at any cost.

Missa... Missalyss20

I think the wrong word used here is "choice". Hailey did not have a choice to be born biologically male, nor does she have a choice to feel like a girl trapped in a boy's body. I'm sure, if given the choice, she would choose to either have been born biologically female or be more like her brother. This is who she is, and I believe the parents are doing the right thing in acknowledging that she is a girl, even though she was not born that way. Growing up knowing that your parents accept you for who you are can go a long way in buffering outside criticism. There is no shame in one's gender, and no one should make you feel bad because you identify with one that is different from one you were born with. If this were a little girl acting like a little boy, there wouldn't be such an issue. Puberty and teenagehood will complicate things, yes. By that time, perhaps Hailey will come to the decision to become, physicall, a woman, with her parents' support. Or, perhaps it is a phase, and she will grow out of it. Only time will tell, and how Hailey reacts to the changes in her life will dictate how her parents should react. No one can predict the future.

buffa... buffalove23

It sounds like the parents have a handle on it and your closeminded self should keep out of it :)

Tiffa... TiffanyinSF

I have a lot of respect for the parents.  They seem to be handling a difficult situation in a way that will make their child feel loved and respected.  What more can you ask for?

Hilary MacNeal

Honestly, I think they`re doing the best thing given the situation.  It`s obvious that Hailey`s feelings went beyond wanting to dabble in playing dress up as a princess.  Instead of fighting it, they`ve let their daughter know that they understand how she feels, and that they respect her for who she is.  Yes, she`ll have a tough road ahead.  But she has a pretty amazing family behind her to help her on her way.  A lot of transgender (and gay, lesbian and bisexual) youth find that their families are the ones to give up on them.  That obviously won`t be the case in Hailey`s life. 


And if it`s a phase, so what?  Sure, it`ll lead to some embarrasing childhood pictures when Harry`s 16.  But it`ll also show him just how much his parents love and support him, and that they will accept him for whoever he is.  I think these are two incredibly brave people, and we could be so lucky as to have a world full of people as open and understanding as they are.

4meye... 4meyerkidsmommy

Shame on anyone who suggests the parents are "encourging this" or making the wrong choice. It's obvious when the father with tear filled eyes wores about "who will ever fall in love with his child"

I fully support these parents hard choice and acceptance of their child

tnyangel tnyangel

Another thought to consider, I've met a similar child in private school with my best friend's kids. ONLY HIS PARENTS are discouraging him and it's really been painful to watch. He's in 7th grade now and I can't help but think everytime I see him that permenant damage has already been done. He has only female friends and very few of them. He was invited to a "girlie" type birthday party and the girls painted his nails and the parents went batsh*t crazy about it. They damand he play sports with boys that don't want to be with him. I don't know what I would have done in this situation, but I like to think I would have gotten a good family therapist and gone the route these parents did.

Anast... Anastazia975

For once I am in full agreeance with the other posters and could not have said it better myself. Bravo ladies.

xavie... xavierlogan09

i think the parents are doing what they think is best to make their child happy. i think the child will have tough sitations later in life. but if he truly believes that he wants to be a girl it's best to discover it now then later. 

Pishyah Pishyah

I think I just fell in love with the girl and her parents.  As for parenting, I don't think I believe anymore that our job is to shape our children.  I think they are born with personalities and we are to love and accept them for who they are, terach them how to control themselves, etc. 

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