At last, I am posting some follow up comments made by Danielle, mother of the twin boys featured in the 60 Minutes segment, Science of Sexual Orientation. Part one is here and should be read first.
Danielle said this in her initial email:
I often wonder “if” I had told Adam that “yes” he could be a girl when he became old enough would he have stayed on that track of thought? However, at the urging of his therapist I told him I understood he was a girl yet he was really a boy and couldn’t be a girl.
Wanting to be clear, she wrote to elaborate:
This was my response when he was three years old. We thought it would be confusing for that age of a child to hear he could be a girl but not until he was older. Later in his life I was up late watching a tv show about transgender surgery. Adam had awaken and was watching the show behind me – I didn’t know he was there. I heard a gasp. When I turned around there was my Adam staring intently at the tv. He asked me in a shocked whisper “Can I do that surgery and be a girl?” I told him “yes” he could but not until he was 18 years old. He became very excited. You have to understand the differences in his age. I believe the information I gave him at each step was based on age appropriate responses. He did stare at me for a bit and asked me if I would really let him do something like that if he wanted. I assured him I would if it would make him happy. He wanted to know why I would help him change his body. I informed him because I loved him and I didn’t want him to be sad or hurt. He asked me if I really loved him that much. My response was a very sound “yes!” that seemed to please him very much.
The last time Adam and I talked about him being able to change his body into a girls body Adam was indecisive. Again, I believe it’s the age/stage of his life and awareness of all around him. This conversation occurred after Tyra Banks had issued an invitation to be on her show. At that time Adam advised me he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He didn’t know if he should change his body so he could be a girl, stay with a boys body, if he was straight sexually or gay. Again, I believe his answer and confusion to be age appropriate. I declined the show offer because I didn’t want him to expose himself when he was so unclear about his future. I didn’t want to “lock” him into any particular role. That was when I decided to proceed with the hormone therapy to give him more time and maturity to decide what he wanted for himself. However he was already fully into developing so we decided not to go ahead with the treatments.
We are in the process of working on another television project. I am allowing Adam to participate because I believe the show will allow him to show his confusion and be himself as he is for a 12 year old. This lead us to another conversation about the issue. For all of his wise wisdom he informed me he still didn’t know what he wanted to do. “After all Mom, I’m only 12. I’m not suspose to know 100% for sure where my sexuality belongs. I’m suppose to be able to explore and decide later” And that’s where I have left it. For him to be a normal 12 year old child, maturing, developing and exploring the possibilities of his future. I’m here to guide him, support him, and show him all the possibilities of the future. I can love him, hold him, praise him and catch him if he falls. That’s my role as a parent.
I then wrote to her to clarify how these thoughts related to her parenting decisions, specifically with his name and school. She said:
The issue of what name to use during school was never really discussed. I wouldn’t have allowed him to use a girls name at school even if he had pushed me to do so. He was “Adam” and that was that.
During school hours he could wear what he wanted as long as it followed the school dress code. He only asked to wear a dress to school a few times. My response was always that his brother couldn’t wear his fireman clothing so he couldn’t wear his dresses to school however, he did wear them around the house. He did wear a girls black sweater with gold thread for two years. He wore girls tennis shoes all his life because of the color and sparkles and still wears them. He would wear girl shirts; however, in today’s fashion world, sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference except in color. In his younger years, he wore girl jeans with sparkles but only for about an year then he didn’t want to wear them anymore. But the really feminine clothing was only at home. My life was easier dealing with this issue because I had twins. His twin wanted to be a fireman. He had everything to do with a fireman just like Adam had everything to do with being a girl. My rule was that the girl clothing (dresses, heels, jewelry, skirts, femme blouses, makeup) and the fireman clothing stayed home when we went to the library, grocery store, grandma’s, church, school and so on. My main reason for my restrictions were due to my parents who are totally against Adam’s gender issues. However, his Nana didn’t care what he wore so he could take his dresses to her house and wear them over there. I did have an issue at school once where the principal asked me if I could get Adam a different book bag (his was pink) and buy him different shoes (his were white with a pink logo on them). I advised her that he wasn’t breaking any rules by his choices so I wouldn’t make him give them up. I told her I could give in to him and allow him to wear dresses to school if she really wanted to push me since there isn’t a dress code that says he can’t. She backed off after that. However, I wouldn’t have ever allowed him to wear a dress to school anyway. Yes, I had restrictions about what he wore and did in society but he did have a bit of freedom by his choice of shoes.
I again want to thank Danielle for her candid comments. I have received emails from parents and professionals who are glad for this glimpse into how one parent reasons through these difficult issues.