Contrary to what people think, gender confusion in children is actually more common than you think. When parents start having suspicions that their child might be gay, even this realisation could hit home like a tonne of bricks. While some families can accept their child being gay, not all parents feel the same way about their child’s sexuality.
Recently a mother was sentenced to life in prison while her boyfriend was sentenced to the death penalty when they were convicted of torturing the woman’s son to death because they believed he was gay.
It was the mum who called 911 to report that her son wasn’t breathing, but she told deputies it was because he had fallen and hit his head on a dresser. However, the coroner later found out that the actual cause of death was blunt-force trauma and neglect.
It was later discovered that Gabriel Fernandez of Palmdale was repeatedly beaten, starved, tied up, locked in a cabinet, shot with a BB gun and once had his teeth knocked out with a bat. The boy also had a fractured skull, broken ribs and burns across his body.
He was only eight years old.
Gender Confusion in Children: What Should I Do?
1. DON’T stereotype gender roles
Just because boys play with dolls, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are gay. So what was it that led you to believe that your child might be gay? Many parents feel strongly about gender confusion in children, which is why they tend to stereotype gender roles. Still, parents should not jump to conclusions based on the toys that children play with. Their choice in toys is, by no means, any indication of their sexuality.
2. DON’T weird out on your child
Nobody likes to be treated differently when the cause is something they can barely understand, let alone control. Even if you think your child is gay, it still doesn’t change the fact that they are your children. It is important to remain supportive. Do not make rash judgements or reject them. Instead, always be there for them to guide them, especially when they need your help the most.
3. DON’T force them to see a counsellor
Sexual orientation is not a simple matter or something that can be fixed with a visit to the doctor or counsellor. This will only make your child think that they are a mistake. If your child opens up and feels more comfortable talking to a counsellor, then by all means. But do not imply that there is something wrong with them and that they should go see a counsellor or shrink to set them right.
4. DON’T behave like it’s the end of the world
There is no need to start calling everyone in the family and pouring your heart out. This will only create more strain between you and your child. Even if it is difficult, don’t sever the relationship. Always remain calm, open and non-judgemental. Be the one they can run to when they need to pour out their feelings. Be the parents they can depend on regardless if they are gay or not.
5. DON’T ask them if they are gay
Even if your suspicion is strong, wait for them to be ready to confide in you. Do not be tactless and ask them straight out. Be sensitive about their feelings and try to understand how difficult it must be for them. Until then, continue to be patient and supportive without being too judgmental. They will surely tell you when they are done battling their own confusion and are finally ready to come out.
How to Determine Gender Confusion in Children
According to Dr Greene, there are some factors to look out for when trying to determine gender confusion in children:
- Is your child still confused about their own sex by their third birthday?
- Does your child consistently say that he or she prefers to be the opposite sex?
- Do you always hear your child speaking ill of or denying his or her own sexual anatomy?
If your child displays these traits, there is a possibility that he or she might be facing gender confusion. Still, there is no reason to believe that gender confusion in children is a bad thing. And it certainly doesn’t give anybody the right to belittle or beat these children into obedience.
Our hearts go out to the little boy who was tortured and beaten to death just because they thought he might be gay. We cannot begin to imagine the nightmare he had to endure. May his soul rest in peace.
Read also: Dealing with gender identity disorders