An insight into having a child that wants to be transgender

West Auckland boy Ben, 11, is a female-to-male trans boy who socially transitioned when he was six years old.

When I visited his home in Glen Eden, he was enjoying a hot afternoon shooting hoops in his driveway and kicking around a ball on the lawn. But unlike many of his friends at intermediate, he has a lot of decisions to make about the medical side of transitioning to male.

With puberty just around the corner, Ben has recently made the decision to start taking puberty-blocking hormones.

Accompanied by his mother Rebecca, every three months Ben takes the bus to a clinic where he gets an injection that stops him developing the physical characteristics associated with adult women.

“If I want to be myself [a male] there’s nothing else I could choose to do. I’ve already made my decision, no matter what, I’m going to stay who I am.”

He would be very upset if he had to allow his body to develop otherwise, he said.

“I wouldn’t feel like myself, it would make me feel sad, because of how far I’ve come.”

The idea behind puberty blockers is for a trans child who is already living as their preferred gender to buy time before they can make a more informed choice about whether to take sex hormones to shape their future.

Puberty blockers are reversible, although there is limited research into the long-term effects they can have on development.

Sex hormones are more permanent. They can be taken from about age 16 to change the body and give it physical characteristics such as breasts, broad shoulders, or a feminine or masculine pattern of hair, fat and muscle distribution.

They can also make a person infertile while they are taking them, which is a difficult decision for young teenagers to grapple with.

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