Hey B

Need medical professionals for my 10 year old trans little guy! He came out the week before Halloween so now it’s time to start the whats next, what do you suggest? I am here in stettler

First of all, congratulations to you and your son! It can be really hard coming out in such a conservative place even as an adult, let alone as an elementary-age kid! You must be incredibly proud--and thanks for being such a supportive parent for him to go to!

So I'm assuming that your son is socially transitioning in places like home and school--things like using he/him pronouns, maybe changing his clothing or hair style.

FYI to everyone reading: Everyone's transition is totally different, and none of this is necessary for a person to be "a real trans person." If you're a trans man and you feel comfortable wearing dresses, go for it! Feminine men and masculine women are totally valid. I'm merely suggesting things that tend to help trans kids feel comfortable in their gender as they grow and explore.

While social transitioning can really help a person feel more at home in their body, a ten-year-old is coming up on some really big physical changes when puberty hits. I speak from experience when I say that the puberty that comes with a body that produces more estrogen than testosterone is NOT FUN for a trans guy. Periods can make us super dysphoric--that means that we might get angry at our bodies, because we don't want them to be acting the way they are. The same goes for bras, breasts, the whole "welcome to womanhood" shtick, because none of us want to GO to womanhood.

It's amazing that you're already thinking of protecting your son from all of this, especially since none of us really know when puberty will hit any specific person. When I was growing up, we didn't even get a talk about it at school until we were 12 or 13!

Your next step is likely to be something called puberty blockers, which are medications that block testosterone and estrogen to stop the physical parts of puberty: voices changing, breast development, hair growth. According to plannedparenthood.org, "There are two kinds of puberty blockers: A flexible rod called histrelin acetate that goes under the skin of the arm and lasts for 1 year, and a shot called leuprolide acetate, which works for 1, 3, or 4 months at a time."

Puberty blockers don't cause any permanent changes in the body--they merely postpone the changes that were on the way, which gives a kid and their family time to make sure this is the path they want to take and plan their next steps. Puberty blockers also save trans kids so much anguish from the physical changes they don't want. As I mentioned, for a transmasculine person, bleeding or getting curves can be really upsetting. It can feel like our bodies are betraying us. If we're forced to go through changes we don't want to happen, it's a loss of bodily autonomy and it can feel like the end of the world, especially to a preteen with surging hormones.

You'll want to pursue puberty blockers through a pediatric endocrinologist, someone who knows the baseline statistics of kids your son's age and what to expect. Here in Stettler, I've had excellent luck being referred to an adult endocrinologist by my family doctor, although she works out of Edmonton. There may be a bit of a wait list, so good on you for starting as soon as possible! The doctor will want to monitor kiddo's bone density and height as treatment goes on, so prepare for more doctors' visits than in the past.

After suppressing puberty for a while, your son may decide to go on HRT or Hormone Replacement Therapy--that is, to start taking testosterone and induce a masculine puberty. Testosterone will give him facial hair and change his fat distribution so that he doesn't become curvy--although it does come with a fair bit of acne, so stock up on that spot treatment!

Another thing to consider is that trans and gender-non-conforming kids blossom with the help of affirming therapists and support groups. The more people in their lives who tell them that it's OK to be themselves, the better! Summit Psychology here in Stettler offers family counseling, which could help you make sure you're providing your son with all the resources possible. The public library here also has a fair amount of Young Adult books with queer and trans protagonists; just head to https://spl.prl.ab.ca/ and search their catalogue. As far as support groups during COVID, you may need to look to bigger cities to meet more trans youth, but Camp Dragonfly (https://www.camp-dragonfly.com/) runs for a weekend every summer in Edmonton and is just for gender-diverse youth and allies. A little closer to home, Red Deer and Camrose both have thriving queer communities. Pride of the Heart Stettler has a Facebook group and organizes events for all ages at https://www.facebook.com/PrideStettler/.

Ultimately, however you choose to support your son, I'm so glad you're here for him. Please don't hesitate to email me directly at b@justbconsulting.ca if you need to talk, or if I can be of help discussing trans issues with any adults in his life who don't get it!