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Preparing for a Generation That Comes Out Younger

Posted by on May. 22, 2013 at 9:54 AM
  • 32 Replies
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/josh-a-goodman/preparing-for-a-generation-that-comes-out-younger_b_2556346.html

Preparing for a Generation That Comes Out Younger
Josh A. Goodman | Jan 31, 2013 08:05 PM EST

Earlier this month the Oregon Health Plan (Oregon's Medicaid program) announced that, starting in October 2014, they would cover the health care needs of transgender youth, including puberty-suppressing hormones and counseling services. This is great news for transgender youth in Oregon whose families would otherwise never be able to afford such care, but it's notable for another reason: This is the first, or one of the first, times that a government agency has addressed the needs of the youngest LGBTQ citizens.
While we, both the LGBTQ community and society in general, don't often talk about queer youth who come out during grade-school years, there's a couple of reasons why it's important to think about this out-of-the-spotlight population. First, many LGBTQ people are aware of parts of their sexual orientation or gender identity from a young age. One well-regarded study found that the average age that gay and bisexual boys had their first same-sex attractions was just before 8, while for girls it was 9, and in many cases the same-sex attractions started several years earlier. Transgender individuals, meanwhile, may be especially likely to sense a disconnect between their gender identity and their body when they are young, because, among other reasons, gender is salient for children.
Second, LGB people are coming out earlier than before. Likely thanks to societal changes that make LGB people more visible and less stigmatized, the average coming-out age has declined from 20-something in the 1980s to somewhere around 16 today. But, because "average" means some people will be below that age, there are many who come out younger -- in some cases far younger. Search on YouTube and it's not hard to find clips of people who came out at 9 or 10 years old. Even here on The Huffington Post, Amelia blogs about her experience as the mother of a 7-year-old openly gay son.
This trajectory toward coming out at younger ages means that we, both the LGBTQ community and society at large, need to be thinking about how to meet these kids' needs. As more lesbian and gay kids come out during their childhood or early adolescent years, it will be important for schools to educate students about sexual orientation and gender identity in an age-appropriate way as part of diversity awareness, and to squelch any schoolyard myths about what it means to be gay. As more transgender kids come out before puberty, states and insurance companies ought to ensure that these kids have access to appropriate medical care that can prevent them from undergoing the painful process of maturing into a body that is incongruent with who they are. For instance, appropriate care can ensure that a biologically female kid who identifies as a boy won't have to grow breasts.
On a more somber note, more awareness of what it means to be gay and increasing pressure to come out earlier may lead some teenagers to come out to hostile families and face painful consequences such as conversion therapy, emotional abuse and being kicked out of the house, whereas in a different era those same teenagers might have waiting until their 20s to come out, when doing so would be much safer. We can already see that happening today.
The fact that more people are able to be their genuine selves at younger ages is one of the greatest achievements of the LGBTQ rights movement. Having kids come out younger also brings a new set of challenges, such as navigating skepticism from others ("Are you sure? You're so young!") to the fact that lBilly may no longer be welcome for playdates at his friend's house after announcing that he is gay. Of course, coming out as a preteen is still the exception, not the norm. While I figure that we'll see more queer individuals come out at young ages, given the growing acceptance of LGBTQ people and the fact that more kids know what it means to be gay, many other queer youth may still come to understand their identity during adolescence. I also don't want to sound out of touch with today's reality: There are still many queer youth who struggle in the closet and are exposed to anti-gay prejudice at school and elsewhere. Nonetheless, I hope we are moving toward a time when queer youth spend little if any time in the closet. As we move ahead, I look forward to a discussion about how to best meet these kids' unique needs.
by on May. 22, 2013 at 9:54 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Bookwormy
by Platinum Member on May. 22, 2013 at 9:57 AM
I initially went looking for coming out stats to prove that there have always been gay scouts. & there have! The difference is that they are much more likely to come out while scouting now. In the 90s they would have stayed closeted.
Bookwormy
by Platinum Member on May. 22, 2013 at 9:58 AM
Oregon's Medicaid program for trans youth is interesting.
stormcris
by Christy on May. 22, 2013 at 10:01 AM

Interesting

onethentwins
by Bronze Member on May. 22, 2013 at 2:18 PM


My daughters gay friend was in the boy scouts until he was about 17. It was obvious to me that he was gay when he was in 3rd grade. He still hasn't come out to him mom becaue she's expressed her negative feelings toward the gay community. I think she's in deep denial because the kid is flaming. 

Quoting Bookwormy:

I initially went looking for coming out stats to prove that there have always been gay scouts. & there have! The difference is that they are much more likely to come out while scouting now. In the 90s they would have stayed closeted.



onethentwins
by Bronze Member on May. 22, 2013 at 2:20 PM

Another friend of mine has a daughter that identifies as a boy. He's 13 and on hormones. My friend says she wont let him get surgury until he's an adult. He just started HS and apparently everyone is very supportive but he doesn't want to be the poster boy for transgendered kids. 

SewingMamaLele
by Leanne on May. 22, 2013 at 2:22 PM
4 moms liked this

Uhmm... is this a joke?   I can't be the only one who thinks that giving kids puberty supressing hormones is a bad idea. 

x_Starr_x
by Bronze Member on May. 22, 2013 at 2:22 PM
4 moms liked this
Waste of tax payers money this is not a medical need they wanna change sex mommy and daddy need to pay for it . Our medicad programs are in enough debt.
Bookwormy
by Platinum Member on May. 22, 2013 at 5:18 PM
It is a diagnosis, so it does qualify for treatment.


Quoting x_Starr_x:

Waste of tax payers money this is not a medical need they wanna change sex mommy and daddy need to pay for it . Our medicad programs are in enough debt.

x_Starr_x
by Bronze Member on May. 22, 2013 at 5:26 PM
1 mom liked this
It is not a true medical need a heart defect is wanting to change sex is not.

Quoting Bookwormy:

It is a diagnosis, so it does qualify for treatment.




Quoting x_Starr_x:

Waste of tax payers money this is not a medical need they wanna change sex mommy and daddy need to pay for it . Our medicad programs are in enough debt.

rfurlongg
by on May. 22, 2013 at 6:28 PM
3 moms liked this
Hmmm.... I have mixed feeling. While every child should feel safe to express their sexuality I am cautious about introducing hormone supresant into a growing body. What are the long term physical and emotional repercussions? Lots to consider.
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