Monday, July 23 , 2018, 8:37 am | Fair 74º


Louise Palanker: Transgender Transitions, Sharing Room with Mom, Quitting Sports

Question from Chris

How do I talk to my parents about wanting to start transitioning from biologically female to male? I have always felt like a boy.


This is a very big question. So much depends upon what your parents already know. The best approach to addressing gender identity issues may be through a psychologist. There is so much at stake.

Many transgender kids know very emphatically that they were born in the wrong body. For these children, introducing hormone blockers and then hormone therapy before puberty may be the best plan. For other kids who simply yearn for the freedom to identify as nonbinary, neither male nor female, interrupting natural body chemistry is the wrong way to go.

Society is increasingly receptive to guys in skirts and girls in ties. How you choose to present yourself and the name you select and the pronouns you request are up to you. These choices are also reversible. Hormones and surgery are not.

What is tricky is that kids do not always know exactly what they want while they are striving to find themselves, so speaking to a mental health professional who will work closely with you and your parents is critical.

Let your parents know that you do not feel like a female and that you need to talk to someone about this. Then allow the adults in your life to help you make the best decisions moving forward. If those adults do not include your parents, keep talking until you find someone who will listen.

Click here for an excellent article for you to share with your parents. It is by Irwin Krieger, a licensed clinical social worker and author of Helping Your Transgender Teen: A Guide for Parents.

And here is Dr. Norman Spack with more information about working with and supporting transgender children:

(TED video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Jenna

I’m 16 and I still share a room with my mom. I am so embarrassed, and whenever I tell my mom she says that she shared a room with her mom until she was 20. And that was such a long time ago!! I honestly don’t know what to do. I can never invite a friend over because I’m so embarrassed about it.


You don’t have any control over your mom’s financial or living situation. Kids never do. As a child, you pretty much go where you are placed all day, every day until around the age of 18 when you can look around and say to yourself, "Hey, I can go wherever, whenever!!"

That’s a pretty cool and frightening feeling all at once. Your world starts to open up and you begin to understand that the more education you get and the harder you work, the further you will be able to go from your mother’s room.

Your daughter will not sleep in your room! Decide that right now. And, since you have nothing to do with your current circumstance there is no shame. How could there be? This arrangement was not created or requested by you. If your mom is strapped for cash based on this or that, how is that your responsibility? It just isn’t. Life happens to everybody.

You need to have more faith in your friends. Honestly, would you care where your friend slept? It’s a detail. It doesn’t matter to anyone. Some kids have parents who are messy or who are hoarders or who smell funny or who are alcoholics, etc. etc. There are a million reasons to be ashamed of your folks. Some parents are just plain embarrassing!

But your friends are friends with YOU, and they know that you don’t have anything to do with the living arrangements in your home.

As you get older, you can ask your mom more questions about her childhood and her hopes and dreams and what roads led her to the path she is on. Be understanding. Stuff happens to all of us along the way. One of the things that happened to your mom is YOU! And that is a blessing.

Sure, you deserve your own room. But you don’t have one and that is going to be OK. You have people who love you. You have friends. You have food. You have a home. There are a lot of Syrian refugees in Greece living in tent villages right now.

Perspective is key. Cherish what you have. Be proud of who you are. Invite your friends over.

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Zach

I’m the biggest quitter when it comes to sports. I used to do swimming when I was younger, and then I stopped because I got freaked out. I went back to swimming in sixth grade and I was put in the shallow end with the little kids, and I was so embarrassed. I quit after two meets.

Now I’m a sophomore in high school and I don’t think I even remember how to swim. Last year, I tried lacrosse but I couldn’t catch or scoop the ball so I quit. I really want to do a sport but I’m too afraid to try because I’m scared I’m going to be bad at it and quit like I always do.

Another thing is I get tired easily when I do a vigorous activity like running. I am not in great shape and I’m hard on myself. I know it’s because I’m not used to it since I’m always sitting on my lazy bum. But the point is I’m so afraid to try a new sport because I fear getting judged and embarrassed. So I end up quitting whenever I fail. What can I do?


Let’s do some re-branding. Trying and not doing something perfectly is called learning. Quitting before you have a chance to learn is failure. Successful people are not those who never fall. They are those who never stop getting back up.

There are a few things going on. One is that sports may not be your thing and that is totally fine. The second issue is that whether or not you play a sport, you should try to achieve a reasonable level of fitness and learn how to swim. Step one for you is move more. Dance. Walk. Climb. Play. Just move.

Next, stop calling yourself names. You can identify an area in which you would like to improve without verbally assaulting yourself. Just decide that you need to be more active. It helps to get yourself a fitbit or any similar fitness watch.

The general goal here is about 10,000 steps per day. Get your body used to a reasonable amount of physical activity.

And if you really are interested in a sport, know that everyone on the team is there to learn, improve and take part. The most valuable player can be the most encouraging player. Give others the support that you need and you will get that in return.

Nobody is born knowing how to play lacrosse. Take advantage of what your school has to offer and get in the game with no shame.

Another issue is that you should know how to swim and feel comfortable in the water. We all just watched the Olympics, and you may be feeling either inspired or intimidated. You do not have to be a competitive swimmer but water safety is critical as you continue through life.

Take lessons or just get yourself into the water more often so that you can swim with confidence. Your passion does not need to be sports but you will feel better about yourself if you know how to swim and if you get up and move more every day.

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Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Journals Network, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. She also teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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