But, according to the Washington Post, Kathryn’s insistence that she was indeed a boy was something far more serious than a phase or stage of gender confusion. Her mother, Jean, actually went as far as buying a book on transgender children–without her husband’s knowledge–and read the book cover to cover.
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When Kathlyn was 4, Jean decided to share her suspicions that their daughter may be a boy with her husband, Stephen.
“Have you noticed that Kathryn wants to be a boy?” she remembered asking one night as she and Stephen were washing the dinner dishes after putting the kids to bed.
“She’s just a tomboy,” Stephen replied.
Jean shook her head.
“No, Stephen, I’m pretty sure Kathryn is transgender. She’s not just a tomboy,” she said. “And I think maybe we should start letting her call herself a boy.”
Stephen thought she was nuts. “I told her she was making too much of this,” Stephen recalled.
But it was during a car ride when Kathryn grabbed a book and told her father a tale that finally made him take his wife’s concerns seriously.
“Daddy, I’m going to read you a story, okay?” Kathryn said, opening a random book and pretending to read. “It’s about a little boy who was born. But he was born like a girl.”
Stephen nearly slammed the brakes, then listened as the story unfolded about how unhappy the little boy was.
“Okay. I’m listening, Jean,” he said after he got home.
They took their daughter to a child psychologist near Philadelphia and learned that Kathryn had gender dysphoria, which is what psychologists and physicians diagnose people with who are discontent with the gender they were assigned at birth. The psychologist recommended that Kathryn be allowed to live as a boy. So little by little, they started referring to their daughter as “he,” not “she” and “him,” not “her.” And Kathryn became Tyler.
(Note: Tyler is actually not the child’s real new name. In order to protect the child’s identity outside of their community where their situation is widely known, the Post used Tyler for this article. It is the name they would have given their child had he been born a boy.)
Stephen and Jean say Tyler, now 5, is a happier child now and that, for now, the gender change has been a good thing.
According to the Post article, it is impossible to know how many transgender children there are in the United States as many parents do not make such information public for a number of reasons. It is more common to hear of adults making the gender transition from one sex to the other.
WATCH CNN Report On Transgender Children
But a 5-year-old child?
This case seems a bit unusual. Or is it? Given that there are very few statistics on exactly how many transgender children there are among us, one has to wonder how common Tyler’s story is in our society.