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Parents, School Decide Boy To Be Raised As Girl

From the Miami Herald:

http://www.havelshouseofhistory.com/Mengele,%20Josef.jpg   Twins experimented on in Auschwitz

Others in the past, such as Josef Mengele, have experimented on children to try to prove their theories.

Transgender policy to be tested

Miami Herald

Thu, Jul. 13, 2006

MIAMI – Few will know this genetic truth, because the 5-year-old’s parents and school administrators have agreed that it’s in his best interest to blend in as a female.

Mental health professionals have diagnosed Pat – not his real name – with gender dysphoria, a condition in which a person believes that he or she is the opposite gender. After two years of examination, they have determined that he is not simply effeminate or going through a phase.

"Gender dysphoria can take place during a fetus’ development in the womb," said noted gender specialist and sexologist Marilyn Volker, Ph.D., of Miami.

While this tyke is likely the youngest transgendered child admitted to a South Florida school, he is not unique. Both the Broward and Miami-Dade County school systems have policies in place to smooth the way for such students and their families.

Equality Florida, which advocates for Florida’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, and PFLAG – Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – say the two school districts have the most progressive policies in the state.

Broward and Miami-Dade are among the most exemplary school districts "when it comes to the rights of transgendered people," said Tobias Packer, South Florida Field Organizer for Equality Florida, who himself is transgendered.

Student victims

Carole Benowitz, Florida state coordinator for PFLAG, agrees. Her adult son is gay.

Benowitz said that two years ago – at a Broward high school she declined to name – she was called in after a group of boys beat up another student, whom they believed to be an effeminate boy. In fact, the victim was transgendered – a biological female who looked, dressed and behaved like a male. Benowitz was brought in to counsel the administrators, the students and the victim.

"People have an understanding of what it means to be gay or lesbian – but when they hear that a person is genetically one gender but lives as another gender, that threatens a number of people because they don’t understand what that means," Benowitz said. "And that misunderstanding can make lives very difficult for transgendered children and their parents."

Dysphoria symptoms

"In addition to behaving like the opposite sex, a person with gender dysphoria naturally relates to the opposite sex," Volker said. "They also have a persistent and recurring discomfort with their own external body parts and genitalia because it does not match their internal gender identity. Simply said, they were born into the wrong body."

The soon-to-be kindergartner looks quite feminine, cartwheeling around the yard and playing with dolls. Pat says he hates his penis, and he refuses to wear boys’ clothing.

He and his three older siblings – two girls and a boy – live in a middle-class Broward County neighborhood with their father, an attorney, and their mother, who has a master’s degree in counseling.

Pat’s parents had never heard of gender dysphoria until they took their child for treatment. He was insisting that he was a girl, and often tried to hide his penis between his legs.

After long consultation with a team of pediatric endocrinologists and therapists, then with school officials, the parents decided that it was in Pat’s best interest to live as a girl.

"The school officials have agreed to continue working with the family and medical professionals to help create an environment that will maximize the child’s ability to learn and grow within the school system," said family attorney Karen Doering, who specializes in defending the rights of people who are transgendered, gay, bisexual or lesbian.

Progressive action

Gender dysphoria – called gender identity disorder by the American Psychiatric Association – is commonly misunderstood today, much as homosexuality was 50 years ago.

Although the association has not taken a formal position, the scientific community is increasingly determining that it could be a genetic condition, not a mental disorder.

At the school, teachers and the principal are prepared. The child will use unisex bathroom facilities, will be addressed by a unisex name – not Pat – and has been asked to dress in gender-neutral clothing, such as shorts or pants and a shirt.

School officials said this is standard practice in Broward and Miami-Dade for helping transgendered children fit in.

"The policies the districts have in place are progressive," Benowitz said. "They both aim to ensure that transgendered students are treated like any other students, and take direct action when misunderstanding or violence take place."

Leah Kelly, executive director of student support services and exceptional student education for the Broward school system, could not comment on any specific case.

"But I will say the Broward school system has admitted transgendered children before, and that it is a private matter between the parents, school administrators and the child."

Discretion plays a great role in protecting transgendered children and the privacy of their parents, Kelly said. The objective is for them to blend in, she said.

Tony Valido, an educational specialist in the Miami-Dade schools Division of Student Services, said that Miami-Dade’s approach to helping transgendered children goes one step further – simply because there is a greater need.

"Unlike Broward, Miami-Dade has a more diverse population of students," Valido said. That’s especially true in high school, where there are a number of openly transgendered teens, mostly boys who believe they are girls.

Each Miami-Dade high school has a Sexual Minority Network where students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered can turn to an in-house counselor or teacher for help.

That means advice on trying to fit in and understand who they are, said Valido, who added that there have been no reported incidents of violence or bullying.

The network has been in place for at least 15 years. Valido said that in the last few years, sexual-minority students have become more vocal.

"Sexual-minority students are coming out younger and younger, as early as 10," said Valido, who hopes the Sexual Minority Network will be expanded to middle schools next year.

It’s not clear how many transgendered children are in the system. The U.S. Department of Education does not maintain statistics on the number of transgendered children in the school system, nor are schools asked to report it.

Worried parents

Some parents of transgendered children worry that societal revulsion, fear and anger could prompt someone to call a social-service agency, such as the Florida Department of Children & Families. A complaint that a little boy is being sent to school in girl’s clothing could lead to accusations of abuse and neglect, they fear.

Those fears are not unrealistic, said Abbie Cuellar, an attorney specializing in child welfare issues.

"The parents must make sure that documentation on behalf of their child is ready and continuously updated," Cuellar said. "Gender dysphoria is greatly misunderstood, and all it takes is one well-meaning but ignorant person to start making calls."

But Gary Gershowitz, a spokesman for the Department of Children & Families in Tallahassee, said that parents of transgender children in Florida have nothing to fear.

A five year old?

This is outrageous on so many levels.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, July 19th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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