Wednesday, March 31, 2021
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Sky (9) cannot move fast enough: ‘I want to start tomorrow’ | NOW

Wednesday is International Transgender Day of Visibility, an annual day that makes people aware of the position of transgender people. According to the transgender movement, there is still much room for improvement. In the meantime, healthcare institutions are striving for shorter waiting times for treatment processes. Parents and children also hope that things will go faster.

“Parents have to listen to their children and be okay with them being transgender. That’s why don’t throw them out of the house, because that’s what people do sometimes. When I see that, I kick them in the ass.”

Speaking is Sky (9), who was born as a boy, but feels like a girl from the age of three. She climbs trees and likes to wear pink dresses and cat sweaters. She is one of the girls at school, with figure skating and during circus lessons.

“The age limit would protect against hasty decisions, but most treatments can be reversed.”

Lisa van Ginneken, chair of Transvisie

In addition to Sky, there are more children and young people in the Netherlands who feel transgender. Exact numbers of transgender persons under the age of eighteen are not recorded, but according to research data from the knowledge institute for social issues Movisie, approximately 0.7 percent of Dutch secondary school students feel transgender.

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Treatments for this group often take a long time. Last year, a study by interest group Transvisie – commissioned by Zorgverzekeraars Nederland and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport – advocated reducing the waiting time for treatments from 67 to 6 weeks.

‘I want to be a girl’

This is not yet the case for Sky: she can choose her final gender when she is eighteen. However, she has long made her choice: “I want to be a girl.” Talks will soon be held with the gender clinic of the VUmc about puberty inhibitors. Sky will turn ten in May, but the age limit is twelve. Sky doesn’t like that: “I want to start tomorrow.”

According to Transvisie, children should decide with their parents about these types of treatments. “Parents determine what children can or cannot handle and do”, says Lisa van Ginneken, outgoing chair of Transvisie. As a new Member of Parliament (D66) she will represent the interests of LGBTI people.

She calls long waiting times and age limits for hormone treatments “patronizing and frustrating for children”. “It would protect them from hasty decisions, but most of the treatments that young people receive can be reversed.”

Sky received mostly positive reactions

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Sky already told her class what it was like in group 3, on the basis of a book about a lamb that became a piglet. “One boy teased me, but not for long.” An explanation letter that mother Taya and father Jurre van Delft sent to the parents of classmates received only positive reactions. The school team has no problem with it, according to Taya and Jurre.

Taya: “They are open-minded, but had to think about how they could help Sky.” In a blog, both parents write about their family under a pseudonym. “We want to protect Sky from prospective employers with prejudices about transgender people googling her name.”

“We got used to people of different sexualities early on.”

Father Jurre

“Reactions from the environment are often not too bad,” says psychologist Eva-Marijn Stegemann. “It depends on the child’s environment and his resilience.” Through her organization PsyTrans, which treats transgender children, she sees children with anxiety and stress complaints. “Many children are searching. It is important that parents support them in this.”

Stegemann is conducting doctoral research into methods to help parents of transgender children in the process their children go through. “I advise parents to be open to their child’s choices and to talk to fellow sufferers through interest groups.”

Don’t get stuck in gender roles

Taya and Jurre have never struggled with Sky’s change process. Taya: “We have been growing along for seven years.” According to her, this is because they are not stuck in role patterns. Their eldest daughter Lyka (20) and son Finn (12) have always chosen their toys and clothes themselves. Finn also sometimes wears a dress at home. The progressive environment in which they grew up themselves helped, believes Jurre. “We got used to people of different sexualities early on.”

Meanwhile, the parents wait patiently to see how the waiting lists are going. “We’ll see how it goes. We also look ahead, but will take it with time, depending on the choices Sky makes.”

‘Seven things I would have liked to know in advance as a mother of a trans child’

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