Posted in Big Kids, Developmental Disorders, LGBTQ

How to help autistic gender exploring tween?

So 8 months ago my 10 year old high functioning Aspergers kid, female by birth, confessed to me that they hate being a girl, dread puberty and want medical intervention to prevent it, and identify as neither male nor female. I am having a hard time understanding them, respecting their non binary wish to be called they and child. They cut their hair boy short, dress like a boy and have expressed feeling a lot more male than female though still claim to be a neutral gender. They want to change their name to a gender neutral one and demand that we use the singular form of “they” when referring to them. They also have expressed wanting puberty blockers, to bind their breasts, and to eventually get chest surgery and take testosterone. I worry about their future being autistic and transgender. Could they be more marginalized? And how the hell do I support my child through this? We are doing our best to get to speed and are fully accepting of their gender divergency, as well as neurological differences, and they feel very accepted and valued, but I still worry constantly. What can I do to support them more and come to terms with having a kid who is two types of “different?”

  • Andrea
    Mar 20

    I have no first hand experience here, but just wanted to say that it sounds like you are doing an amazing job loving and supporting you child! I don’t know any specifics, but have you looked into LGBT youth and or family support programs? I’m certain that there are plenty here in NYC that could help you navigate through this very sensitive and transformative time in their life. I hope that someone has some relevant first hand advice but I will say that from the sounds of it, you’re doing great!

  • B
    Mar 20

    Have you looked into therapy? For them and you. Not try to stop it therapy, but try to help them explore and understand it. Seems a good first step before meds and permanent changes (which from friends I understand doctors won’t consider without therapy first)

  • Maxine
    Apr 14

    I’d be asking where this came from. It’s a trajectory that’s hard to come back from. I have a friend that said he thought he could be gay when he was a kid because of the way another man treated him. He said that he thought maybe the guy saw something “gay” in him that made him doubt his sexuality. I believe the first step is to try and find out if this is the result of something specific. Also, help your little one understand how hormones will affect the body in the long run and if this is important enough to take those risks this early. Aspi’s are usually very intelligent and logical and can be reasoned with so that logic and reason can help make these big decisions. Aspi’s can also tend to hyper focus on one thing and can need a lot of help navigating through life situations like this. Keep up what you’re doing, but also don’t forget that you are the parent and the adult. While you want to be supportive, you also have to be the voice of reason and logic just in case this is just an exploration.

  • Anonymous
    Jul 08

    From what I understand, the effects of many (if not all) puberty blockers are reversible. Talk to your child’s lgbt friendly doctor about options and then if your child changes their mind later, they can just stop taking them with little to no ill effects. It would be better to have them change their mind than for them to be trans all of their life and remembering that you didn’t support them. As far as worrying about your child’s wellbeing, as a member of the lgbt community, I can tell you that it is easy to ignore the hate as long as you have people that love and support you. Most lgbt suicides are those whose families abandoned them and couldn’t find support elsewhere. The fact that you are taking this seriously shows that you love and are willing to support your child and that will get you farther than you’d think.

  • Anonymous
    Aug 09

    My husbands best friends child is going through the exact same experience. Like eerily similar including the HF Aspergers diagnosis, except she was closer to 11 years old and was born female but wanted to go through reassignment therapy to transition to male. She went to her mom and told her quite passionately that she feels she’s supposed to be a male. Her parents were very open minded but started with therapy. They got the therapist recommendation from their pediatrician. Through he therapist, who they all met with individually and as a family, their daughter has concluded that her feelings were not concrete, but more to do with fear and expectations she had on herself about puberty and growing up. They all still go to therapy and she still prefers to keep her hair shorter and wear “boy clothes,” but at this point she’s telling her parents that she wants to remain a female but thinks she is a lesbian. I told you all of that only to share my secondhand experience. Overall, I think it’s wonderful that you’re listening to your child and referring to them with the pronouns they prefer. In the end, I think that at the age of 10, most children do not necessarily know what they want to be when they grow up (to be honest, I’m 43 and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up). If I were in your situation, I’d start with therapy and encourage your child to wait and learn more about themselves. Good luck.