14 year old son wants to be a girl

Okay, this topic has a lot of history, but for the sake of time, we just recently (this past Christmas) found out my fourteen year old adopted step son was sexually molested by his maternal grandmother from the ages of ?5? (He doent remember when she DIDNT do things) until 11 when, for other various serious reasons, we had cut ties with that side of the family completely, not knowing about the abuse at the time. She would also tell him how she wished he’d been a girl and had a girl named picked out for him, etc. On top of this, he had an abusive babysitter for years that would lock him in closets, force him in diapers and dresses, and make him play dress up in girl clothes with her daughter, along with other physical abuse. And topping everything off, his bio mom left when he was three and was never involved in their lives, which was why I was eventually allowed to adopt them (he has a younger brother who was subject to some of the same abuse, but to a much lesser degree). All of this to say we are dealing now with some major after shocks. Obviously we went to the police and the family services were involved, but Ella (grandmother) had no priors, it had happened years ago, and she passed a polygraph so she was not indicted. But now Jadon is convinced he wants to be a girl, have the surgery when he’s older,etc. Hes already been hospitalized three times since January for suicidial and holo ideal thoughts, cutting himself (down there), which he did in response to a voice from this cross he drew and prays to (bc he’s mad at God now) and it tells him to do things and the last time was because this cross told him if he wasn’t allowed to wear girl clothes, one of the little ones would get hurt ( by the cross, not him. My husband and I have four children together, 6, 3, 17 months, and 3 weeks). He’s been put on Zoloft and ability and is in counseling, has been since February. This last time he was discharged from the hospital he swears if he was just allowed to wear girl clothes in the privacy of his room, at night, he’d never talk about it to anyone (the littles) and he’d be happy and wouldn’t try to push things. Out of ideas as to how to deal with him and keep a peaceful household ( we tried pushing for long term psych residential care, but according to insurance he’s not sick enough. Or if we dropped insurance and had Medicaid, he could prob get in. But that’s another rant). We reluctantly agreed to this compromise but I want to know if we are sinning by doing so. Or are assisting him to sin. He knows we believe it’s wrong and don’t approve but at the same time we have five other kids to think of and can’t keep living under his threats. We’re doing all in our power to get him help, meds, therapy, but were at an impass and if this truly keeps the peace until he’s 18 and out of here (sounds harsh I know but I truly don’t know what to do anymore) is it a sin? He says he’s not gay, just wants to be a girl and be “neutral” though I did tell hi to get the surgery would defintly be mortal sin. Any advice would be appreciated.

Wow, there seems to be an awful lot going on in your son’s life. I’m praying for him and the rest of your family.

To be honest, it sounds like there’s so much going on underneath the transgender issue that it can’t even be addressed as a simple “is he transgender or not?” question.

The abuse by the grandmother and babysitter, and the hearing threatening voices both bring up serious possibilities that he may not be transgender and may instead be reacting to the previous abuse or even mental illness. Did the grandmother or babysitter ever threaten him or other children if he didn’t comply with their fantasies about him being a girl? That could have triggered a compulsion in him to pretend to be a girl to avoid being hurt or having other children around him be hurt. Also, though obviously no medical advice can be given here, certain mental illnesses like OCD and schizophrenia (the hearing voices part is especially worrisome) can cause the person with the illness to believe that something bad will happen if they do or do not perform certain actions or rituals.

My advice would be to let him know he is loved by you and by God, and to listen to him about why he wants to dress and live as a girl. See if you can discern an underlying cause for the behavior or if he really might be transgender. If the underlying cause is the abuse or a mental illness, I think you should approach it no differently than you would any other unwanted behavior that he might have manifested instead (ie- try to take a step back and ask yourself “if this were any other behavior… say, if he were obsessively cleaning or washing his hands to the point of self injury, would I react the same way or am I reacting more strongly specifically because it’s transgenderism?”) We’re called to compassion for those who are suffering and it definitely sounds like your son qualifies. If it turns out it’s not a manifestation of trauma or mental illness and he is transgender, then you should speak with your priest about how to go forward from there.

Continue getting him as much help as you can. See if you can find a support group to go to for yourself and your spouse. If all else fails, contact NAMI to see what they have to offer. They might be able to point you in the right direction. Once he’s 18, tell him that if he still lives under your roof, then he still has to obide by the same rules as before. So, if he wants to dress like a girl all the time, he can get his own apartment. Some of this may just be confusion from all the abuse he got. I know that for years I thought that I should have been a boy. I was abused, but not that bad. Of course, any abuse is too much. It really messes with the head. Give him support while he seeks to come to grips with what happened to him. Find a counselor who also has a group, or knows of one where he can go and find others like himself who can relate to the problems. And once he’s of age, if he says he wants the surgery, tell him that he has to pay for every cent of it on his own. And it isn’t cheap, that’s for sure.

How horrible for all of you! That poor young man.

While the Church teaches that it is impossible to actually change gender and not permissible to do a sex “reassignment” surgery for all but the most serious reasons, the need to keep the patient from harming himself can be such a reason. Likewise with the sorts of things you are suggesting; that is, it is of the utmost importance that he be kept from doing serious harm to himself. He is the victim in all of this, after all.

This is the sort of pastoral decision that you cannot get from the internet. You need to seek guidance from your own real pastor.

Thank you for your response. I personally believe it is all underlying abuse that is triggering these thoughts. He has been diagnosed with PTSD and depression and one psychiatrist also said probable OCD (which I agree with) and probable Tourette’s bc he has a fair amount of tics, some pretty severe. But he doesn’t see any correlation in the abuse and his thoughts. And possibly there is no correlation, but given the nature of everything, with supposedly trusted and loving female figures, the main female figure hats supposed to have protected and loved him the most abandoning him, it just seems to fit. That being said, I realize there is still a lot there and he will likely need extensive therapy to get to the root of things, and we’re more than willing to get hi whatever help he needs, however, thinking also of his soul, I don’t want to encourage mortal sin to indulge him and keep the peace while he’s figuring things out, but on the flip side, if we do allow him to indulge in this “forbidden” want, the taboo is lifted and if he’s not really transgender, working that out with therapy and knowing he could dress like that if he wanted to without the shock value (not around the little ones) might get that out of his system. I don’t know. I just feel like I don’t know where to turn and the doctors haven’t been much help and if course family all has their own opinions. I just want to do the best in a bad situation to help him, is not offending God, and keeps our family safe.

Whether or not the gender dysphoria exists independently of the abuse or not, he has been severely traumatized by offenders he ought to have been able to trust completely.

Hang in there with him, and be sure to get support for yourself, too!

The poor, tormented little soul. My heart and my prayers go out to him; and to you, who want only what is best for him.

The part of your post which resonated with me concerns his insistence that the cross he drew ‘told’ him to harm himself. If he is having auditory hallucinations, this may be indicative of a serious (but manageable) psychiatric disorder and will need this to be investigated straight away.

I don’t feel that sexuality or gender are what’s troubling this child; his hurts go seeped and, at his young age, may not yet be permanent. Please move heaven and earth to make sure a good, competent psychiatrist sees him. He has so much to work through and overcome and this may take a long time. Do not lose hope. He can overcome his tragic beginning; God has already blessed him with caring people like you; I will pray that He blesses him with health, serenity and peace.

Bless you and your family. x

Jesus said that there are Eunuchs which are
MADE THAT WAY BY MAN. This might be one
case, he has been forced to reject his role as a
The BEST thing you can do for him is FAST and
pray that he will come back to his senses and
ACCEPT his created role as male.
Another thing you can do is to teach him to FEAR
God’s Laws(Teachings of Church, 10 commandments)
so that he will not be used by the devil to perpetuate
the evil done to him.

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and
the treasury of compassion inexhaustible,
look kindly upon this boy and increase your mercy in him,
that in this difficult moment in his life,
that neither him NOR his adoptive mom will despair,
nor be despondent, but with GREAT confidence,
submit themselves to your holy will,
which is LOVE and MERCY itself!

Have you spoken to your priest about this? If just wearing clothes calms him down enough to interact with the rest of the family, I can’t see how that would be a sin, but you should consult with a priest who is familiar with your family situation.

Praying for you and your son. As a survivor of childhood abuse all I can say is that your son needs love, love and more love.

Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed are thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

Glory Be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning is now ever shall be world without end

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy, hear and answer me. Amen

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion — inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.

Please contact Dr. Ray Guarendi a highly respected Catholic clinical psychologist. He has often been interviewed on EWTN tv programs and has a radio program that originates at Ava Maria Radio in Detroit and is also broadcast on EWTN radio. Dr. Ray regularly guides parents to the type of resources you may need.

In your posting you made no references to the steps you have taken to protect your other children. This terribly traumatized boy may either consciously or unconsciously be of danger to your other children. One just never knows. There is a a district possibility that his grandmother has no memory of having molested him but was unconsciously acting out what had been done to her in early childhood.

I will continue to pray for all of you,


This child is still considered a minor in all of the states in the USA. I suggest you contact a LARGE TEACHING HOSPITAL with a LARGE PSYCHIATRIC UNIT and find the best possible psychiatrist you can to evaluate this child. There are actual written tests (complex, takes three days to take them) to identify underlying, or overt psychosis. These places are the best option you have. It appears to me that there is SOME psychosis here. I know. I lost a child to complex psychosis and she had gender confusion issues (and was NEVER sexually abused, or in any other way abused, for her entire short life: she died at age 23). You MUST find expert psychiatric help. This child is quite young and is demonstrating serious symptoms. You CAN hospitalize him without his consent at his age (IF the hospital is a sophisticated facility) and attempt to intervene.

Okay. So I never went so far as wanting to be a girl, but I still know a thing or two about what that’s like. I went through a phase about 4(!) years ago, where I wanted to wear skirts, paint my nails, grow my hair out, etc. But, like I said, it’s (mostly) just been a phase. It died down within a year or two, and now it’s just that I have nothing against it. So while I don’t feel a need to wear skirts all the time, I’m certainly no stranger to it as an idea. Things like wearing one to dorm government for pants theme, or using one to marginally improve a Halloween costume.

*Dorm gov’t- We always have dress-up themes. We also have a running gag that they always remind us we have to wear pants, meaning pants, shorts, skirts, dresses, anything where you’re not going in your underwear. So when the theme was Pants one week, I loosely defined it like we always do and wore a skirt.

Halloween- My idea is to get a group and go as Hunger Games puns. So a gale/tornado, a slice of pita bread, catnip, etc. I call Gale. The plan is to go as a tornado and use a skirt in the costume to serve two purposes. 1) The tornado wouldn’t suddenly bifurcate at the bottom. 2) My RA this year is religiously opposed to Halloween, so I thought it’d be fun to try to mess with him more in my costume choice. (You can guess which is the real reason and which is the excuse :p)*

So I’d recommend giving it a bit of time. It may very well die off. Although, that said, seeing someone probably wouldn’t be a bad idea. At all. For me, it never got to the point of self-injury. But it is with him, and that’s a whole different psychological ballpark.

Praying for your entire family. This breaks my heart. How blessed he is that he has you. It very much sounds like PTSD. After receiving years of medical treatment and addressing the root issues he will be able to better accept himself and may no longer want to be a girl.
He is not in any condition to make those kind of decisions. I pray he grows to accept himself. God bless you.



Poor little muffin - what a mess!

As others have suggested - love, love, and more love - and the best psychiatric help that money can buy.

He needs to learn how to understand his own motivations, gain some measure of control over his thoughts and over his life, and he needs to learn from scratch what “normal” looks like - he’s never been there before. And he won’t get there without tons and tons of love and acceptance, and lots and lots of expert help.

praying for you and your family

This is a very good suggestion. There is more to take into account in this situation than a layperson can guess at. I suspect it is beyond the experience of most parish priests, as well. I do think Dr. Guarendi would be willing to respond personally to someone who contacts him with a question of this seriousness. It would not hurt to try.

Thank you all for your responses and prayers. We actually have contacted our parish priest. He’s been in the loop of everything since we first found out about everything. As you can imagine, he had no idea what to even advise except to say if he mentions suicidial thougts, take him to the hospital, contact the police (which we had) and to pray for us and ask to be of assistance. I realize this is beyond anyone othe than an experienced psychiatrist/psychologist team. He’s currently seein a therapist and is on several waiting lists to see a psychiatrist, though apparently getting in to see one can take weeks to months, even for someone as sick as Jadon. Though honestly, every time he comes out of the hospital, I don’t feel like they are taking him as seriously as thugs need to be take. Perhaps because he HASN’T physically hurt someone or himself enough to need medical (physical) attention. And we are being as pro active as we can abou inquiring about residential psychiatric programs that run four to six months so we could getter a better, deeper handle on things, but apparently you have to be in and out of Children’s Psych ward more than his three measly times for (private) insurance to consider something like that. But Medicaid, they will admit him. Anyways, I do think he needs someone a little more experienced than his current therapist, who is just that…a therapist. Not that I’m knocking therapists, or even her per se, I jus think Jadon’s case warrants a bit more than she’s been giving. And someone mentioned protecting the others from him. That is, aside from getting him the help he needs, top priority. He’s never alone with them, has to always be on the same floor we’re on, sometimes same room depending on the day, attitude, behavior. We’ve locked up all sharp things, even screw drivers, chemicals, etc. at this point, I dot truly believe he’d hurt himself or someone else, I do think a lot is for attention, but I’m no doctor and he has been traumatized and is confused, so we don’t take any chances. I had been homeschooling him before everything came out, well, all the children actually, and wanted to still homeschool Fter it all came out, but his outbursts, behavior, and attitude made it impossible and I didn’t feel it was healthy for the little ones to see. So we enrolled them back I public school, only he saw hat as freedom and not school, and began “dating” and obsessing, having worse suicidal and homicidal thougts, skipping school, etc. So it really made it worse, so after the third hispitalization and bc of the himicidal thoughts involving a girl in his class, we decided to pull him from school since it’s almost over. We’d already decided he’d likely have to repeat the eight grade bc of behavior and grades, but we’re going to look into a Catholic school this time around as that school certainly didn’t help his condition. All these kids talking about and watching videos of rape and all kinda of disgusting things. We reported it to the principal, but he won’t be going back there. So any prayers you could say for Jadon and our family are much appreciated.

This might sound a bit weird, but taking him to a good psychologist with experience with transgender patients may actually be the best thing. The reason it isn’t crazy is because any competent psychologist would work through the abuse first and the prior experience would expedite establishing a rapport with your child.

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