Mum of two Aisling Gannon has shared the story of raising a trans son on The Ray D’arcy Show. Steve, who is now 11, knew he had been assigned the wrong gender from as young as two and a half years old.
At that age, he asked his mum when he would “get the right privates”. Aisling says that Steve has been “consistent, insistent and persistent” that he was a boy.
“He says he was always a boy, I just thought I had a girl,” Aisling explained.
As he grew up, Steve would throw tantrums when he was given girls swimming togs to wear or if he was doing role play he would be “the brother, the uncle or the dog”.
Aisling sought help, and a psychotherapist told her that Steve was experiencing a gender identity crisis and to try and shop in clothes shops that stocked both boy and girl clothes.
“My older girl, when she was born, by the time she could walk and talk she was the dancing queen as her granny called her. She was pink, she was sparkly, and the second kid came along and wasn’t.”
Steve naturally began gravitating towards boys’ clothes and loved to dress up as superheroes.
“He hadn’t yet turned three, and he had a bike with no stabilisers and used to wear all these dress-up outfits like Spider-Man and Superman,” Aisling said.
“He’d be cycling on this little camouflage bike along the seafront, and I remember, everyone used to say, ‘God isn’t he gorgeous, isn’t he great,’ and everyone just thought he was a boy.”
Aisling commended the staff at Steve’s school for adapting to the needs of her trans son, having Steve as a student even encouraged his teachers to rethink the way they teach. He moved into the boys’ class at school and Aisling said this transition has been mostly positive.
There was a school play and Steve knew that, his teacher didn’t know where to put him.
“He’s standing in this class in front of her and she says, ‘I’ll never teach like this again.’ Because they used to have a girl line and a boy line to come in from the yard or go out to the yard or to go to the loo or whatever, and she goes, ‘this poor kid doesn’t know what to do.’ She could feel it was becoming a bigger issue.”
Aisling is campaigning to allow trans children like her son to legally change their gender in Ireland. Currently, the Gender Recognition Act only allows trans people over 16 years of age to get a gender recognition certificate.
A report published in 2018 recommended that the “legalistic and medical” gender recognition system currently operating should be replaced with an administrative process.
This includes lifting current restrictions on those under 16 changing gender, meaning under 16 year-olds would be allowed to register change of gender with the consent of their parents without having to go to court.
Courts should only become involved if a parent does not grant consent or if there are concerns about the young person’s mental well being.
Aisling has just been globally recognised as a 2019 LGBT+ Ally Role Model in recognition of her work on workplace diversity and inclusion.
You can listen back to the full interview here.
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