2008 Shows

Dr. Phil tackles the sensitive topic of children who identify more with the opposite sex. What do you do if your son wants to wear dresses and play with dolls? Or if your daughter tells you she wants to be a boy? Should parents chock it up to being a phase that their children will grow out of, or should they intervene right away? Meet Melissa and Tim, whose 8-year-old son declared himself to be a girl when he was just 3 years old. Now, they allow their child to live as a girl and wonder if and when they should begin hormone therapy. Then, when Mary’s son was 8, he told her he felt like a girl, and Mary allowed him to experiment with dressing as a female. Now a teenager, her son is more comfortable living as a male -- but Mary wonders if she caused his confusion. Joining the discussion are experts with differing points of view: Dr. Dan Siegel, professor and clinical psychiatrist at UCLA School of Medicine, and Glenn Stanton, author and research fellow with the organization Focus on the Family. Is gender identity something we’re born with, or is it influenced by parents and environment? Don’t miss this heated discussion, then talk about the show here..

Find out what happened on the show.
Replied By: aushlee5 on Feb 14, 2013, 5:59PM
I think now that there is much more research on this topic, Dr. Phil should revisit the idea of "gender confused" and hopefully never use that term ever again

Replied By: alphak555 on Jul 18, 2012, 7:46PM
I or the other people that have commented are experts and after seeing the show the experts do not really know either! The expert on the stage seems to be guessing as there is no physical test or proof of what he is saying. What he said made a bit of sense but appeared to be a theory as there was no evidence to validate his comments. I am a on the fence but do have my own experience. I am a girl and grew up a girl. I hated dresses, never wanted to play with girl toys and always wanted to play with boys and boy toys. My father was always disappointed that I wasnt feminine but I never felt feminine. If I was born today and to one of the parents on the stage I would definatley have grown up a boy with no doubt! This would have ruined my life! I think that parents should guide their children and be loving and supporting. A three year old child doesnt know what they are and if they say that they want to be the opposite sex I would suggest  that  the parent guide the child to be a child and not worry about what sex they are!! My son wanted to play with dolls and I never stopped him but I also approached things with a thats fine but lets see attitude as young children are not capable of knowing what and who they are and we are there to guide them! Anyway, I had my hormone levels checked recently and my testostorone level is over 300 which the doctor said was good for an 18 year old boy! The doctor was shocked that I have a full head of hair, no facial hair and absolutely no male features and no signs detrimental to having a high level. I am on a regime to lower my testosterone levels. I was not surprised at all as I actually feel more like a male. I am not romantic, dont care about petty things and find women annoying and want to do physical work and fix things around the house! No one that I know was surprised with my high levels! But, and a big but, I am a girl! I probably should have been a boy but I am happy and content with all aspects of my life because what is, what is! I accept everything in life and am happy doing so! Dr phil is right when he said in a previous show that you can never be disappointed if your expectations are too high! I have never suffered from depresion and have always been happy with life but if I was guided to be a boy I would have been a mess! I think that parents should guide their children to be happy with who they are no matter what they look like and how they were born!

The mother on the stage with a boy who is acting like a girl was a bit distrubing because I think that the mother is actually pushing the son to be a girl! When I saw the boy at the age of 8 applying makeup I thought that a girl born a girl age 8 shouldnt be appying makeup let alone a boy acting like a girl! this mother is going a little over board with the girl thing and supplying makeup to a child that is too young to be using makeup! The makeup is just a sign that the mother is reacting a little too quickly to the childs fads. The child may be a transgender but at this stage there is no sexual confusion so should be treated with kind and patient and age appropriate support! If he were born where there were no scrunchies and makeup like africa then what would the child want? I think that the responsibility is the parents to not make a big deal and be supportive but guide the child gently and sensibly to the age of puberty. I think these parents should be educated to deal with children that display gender confusion so that there is no emotional damage but supportive guidance until puberty sets in. Again, I am no expert but am worried that with the wrong support these kids will be even more confused and mixed up!

Children are children and should be treated as children. Makeup at 8 years old is too young for any child and to encourage sexuality I believe is harmfull! Kids are growing up too fast and should be encouraged to worry about children issues and not adult issues. I think that it is a delicate balancing act to bring up secure and happy children! I do believe that the parents on the show are very loving and caring parents but are doing damage by overly supporting and encouraging sexuality in children who should not even be worried about these issues. I think that the mother on stage is not approaching things with an age appropriate strategy and is treating the boy like a teenager!
Replied By: missclockwork on Dec 26, 2009, 1:30PM - In reply to cahaya777
" I am sad to see why the parents allow the child do what he wants to do. "

Are you saying you're against the expression of a child's individuality? Would you take away a pencil from a child when they're scribbling on a page?

" I believed whatever the Parents sow in a child 's mind , I believed .. it will reap in the childs body and it will harvest in the child's (heart)soul."

Confirmed thesisies point to the opposite conclusion, unless you're talking about superficial effects of course; Such as saying, "thank you" etc.

" I remember my past up-bringing , I my self not allow to wear jeans or allow my hair cut short because my grandparent thinks my likeness in things doesn't belong to the gals but it belongs to the boys. "

What is male and what is female is not based on clothing; behaviors or toy preferences, many genetic females whom are happy with their womanhood wear jeans. Many genetic females enjoy being "butch" but are happy females. These behaviors are superficial stereotypes at best and are not a "sign" nor a cause of gender identity.

" I realised my young daughter had no interest in girls toys but she likes to play boy's toys like thomas tank engine , racing car and so on . For that instants I slowly changed her pattern of her likeness without her noticing it, so it will not effect her personality in the future "

Your girl is just growing up, just because she plays with certain toys does not mean she's going to want to be male. Many females and males go through a "tomboy/girl" phase where they express themselves in ways typically associated with the other gender.

You're right though, no amount of manipulation from your side will affect her personality however, if you oppose who she is; it is likely to only have negative repercussions.

" My daughter now is 17 years old and she probably doesn't remember what she went through when she was between 3-4 years old ."

Your child was never a trans-gendered child, you write your argument as though she said to you "I want to be a boy". She merely developed into herself and you gave some motherly guidance of being a woman, this is not an example of nurturing triumph.

"I supposed if Parents went through this experience with their Child . We as parents must not encourage and allow the child to do what they want to do without pointing a right direction to them."

What you view as the "right" direction is just your opinion. Your child should assert her own beliefs. This is another person, not your personal trophy.

"when I look back now , Im glad that My pasts experiences has saved me and make me think deeply and wisely about Life. I believed we are here for a reason and Parents is the master of the mind of their children and Parents must play that big role in the beginning of their children's life and guide them with strong and firm belief with explaination ."

Saved you from what? A trans-gendered child... Until further notice I'd like to tell you that you don't seem to have one... 

Parents cannot change the personality of the child, you can teach a child things, but it is up to them to put those ideas into action or not.

Why not guide a child to what they want? Use your experiences to help them?

".If we as a Parents failed to encourage our children, that doesnt mean we are bad parents "

Depends what you're encouraging, and also what you mean by the word "bad". Encourage a child's ambitions.

"it is so hard to get in touch into that sensative kind of world unless the parents experiencing it themselves when they were a child....then they will understand the situation "

You have provided no proof of any nurture strategy effectively changing anything, nor that your experience in any way effected your child. For that matter, what does your experience have to do with transgenderedness or that of your child's.

"otherwise it can turn into a nightmare in every parents life."

The nightmare is when you crush your child's beliefs and dreams.
Replied By: truthmomsa on Dec 23, 2009, 4:01AM
I was so deeply saddened to hear of that moms plight.Having 3 boys myself,it must be the most difficult thing to ever face in your life. Understandable that she was emotional but maybe they shouldnt have shared the stage with people with opposing views. She should have been interviewed seperately and the let the doctors hash out their views.

Well done to Dr Nicolosi and DrStanton for braving the stage.I applaud them for trying to speak up,although their views were not heard out because they were under attack from an obviously upset mother and 2 other professionals.I felt they were too quick to judge and reacted rather than listened.
Many people all over the world agree with Dr Stantons views and that of focus on the family and this cannot be discredited!

 I think that a mother,will hear what she wants to hear  to put her at ease that she is doing the right thing for her child. I would have liked to have seen her at least listen to what they had to say if she is truly wanting to help her child.
Replied By: amandasa on Oct 25, 2009, 4:29AM

...were to be socialised into a role prescribed by genitals, it would be me. I was born in a male body, into the Rhodesian War in 1968. The discussion around war and its effect on children will be presented a little later. Born with a harelip, I underwent extensive maxilla facial surgery to correct it before my first birthday. After that apparently I was a normal little boy, constantly in scrapes and trouble. I was surrounded by very strong male roles, my father and uncle were in the Rhodesian Army, and my grandfather was a WW2 veteran. Even the women in my family were strong, my mother in the ground forces of the Rhodesian Air Force and my grandmother was also a veteran of WW2 as a nurse.

So there is no reason why at the age of six I should have had a paradigm shift in my observation of my own gender. Until then, I had no idea of what my gender was. I became self aware, and knew I was a woman. Of course, my mother found me applying make-up and beat the living daylights out of me. This only reinforced the idea that gender expression was wrong, and I should follow the rest of the pack in terms of what society demanded of me.

Which I did. I physically took all feminine traits and locked them down inside of me, and forgot about it. We moved from Rhodesia to South Africa in 1976 into the middle of another war. There is an old cliché; the truth will out. And the now young woman inside me surfaced again at age 15. There was a time, I tell you. In a small town where the family doctor still had time to make house calls, to be dragged before him by my mother who found a bunch of women’s clothes under my bed and have him glower at me and ask,” Do you masturbate when you wear women’s clothes?” has to rank among the more cringe worthy events of my life.

I don’t blame my mother. It was 1983, the internet in South Africa was still a communist plot and apartheid was at its peak. There were more important things than a frightened young child who was sickened by her body, and disgusted by his mind. I do blame the doctor though, and I am still trying hard to forgive him.

Anyway, it was decided I was going through a phase, and I should be encouraged to be manlier.

First team rugby, school cadets and eventually joining the South African Police in 1986. I was hard, I was tough, and I was brutal. I was everything a war hero could expect of his son. I married, had two children with my beautiful wife. It was with the birth of my first son I was not able to keep the box closed anymore. I was a devoted parent, and my working hours enabled me to spend more time with them than their mother. A result of which we bonded closely.

I did not want them to go war as had the first six generations of my family, so I moved to the country and exposed them to a gentler way of life. This had a reciprocal effect on me and my focus became less about me but more about teaching them to be human and humane. Of course, when you are not paying attention to things, they have a way of getting away from you. 

Three suicide attempts later (caused by gender/sex conflict) I resigned from the police, divorced my wife and with a years worth of intensive therapy behind me, flew to Thailand and had sex reassignment surgery. You cannot have gender reassignment surgery; there is not a scalpel sharp enough to cut out your gender identity. It was a long and painful process, anguish; heartbreak, guilt, turmoil and fear of the unknown all combine to make a terrifying hurdle. However, an innate sense of knowing what was right for me was a powerful driver and I came through it. A little broken, a lot humbled and a new beginning. I am now living my life as a woman, I have an amazing woman in my life who loves me, I’m friends with my ex and my children are back under my wing, yet living their own lives.

Did being involved in so much war have an effect on my gender identity? No, because many other children went through exactly the same thing and they had no gender dysphoria. Gender identity is not something that can be changed by beating, choice of toys or clothing. I would liken trying to enforce genital based  socialisation to the horrors of thalidomide. With one crucial difference: gender identification is not induced, it is nobody’s fault, and it’s not a mistake. It just is.

So called 'experts' offer groundless explanations for gender confusion: the arrogance is astounding that a person can say what another believes is wrong. You’ll give a cripple a back brace, why won’t you let a person be who he or she says they are? The physical manifestation is less obvious, but when help is offered, the result can be the same: a happy, whole person. Listen; do not impose your judgments on us.
Replied By: cahaya777 on Sep 23, 2009, 12:27AM
I watched Gender confused Children on Dr.phil today 23/9/09. I am sad to see why the parents allow the child do what he wants to do. I believed whatever the Parents sow in a child 's mind , I believed .. it will reap in the childs body and it will harvest in the child's (heart)soul. I remember my past up-bringging , I my self not allow to wear jeans or allow my hair cut short because my grandparent thinks my likeness in things doesnt belong to the gals but it belongs to the boys. Then when I got married and had a child of my own ...I realised My child went through the same experiences what i experiencing when I was a child. I've realised that my past has reconciled with my present  and I realised my young daughter had no interest in girls toys but she likes to play boy's  toys like thomas tank engine , racing car and so on . For that instants I slowly changed her pattern of her likeness without her noticing it, so it will not effect her personality in the future . I bought a lot of books and spend time reading story books to her , teach her how to sing and do what young girls like to do .... After building up that strong pattern in her life ...I also discuss to her why girls wear what they should wear. My daughter  now is 17 years old and she probably doesnt remember what she went through when she was between 3-4 years old .
I supposed if Parents went through this experience with their Child . We as parents must not encourage and allow the child to do what they want to do without pointing a right direction to them. when I look back now , Im glad that My pasts experiences has saved me and make me think deeply and wisely about Life. I believed we are here for a reason and Parents is the master of the mind of their children and Parents must play that big role in the beginning of  their children's life and guide them with strong and firm belief with explaination ....If we as a Parents failed to encourage our children, that doesnt mean we are bad parents especially if parents never experience how their childrens feelings , it is so  hard to get in touch into that sensative kind of world unless the parents experiencing it  themselves when they were a child....then they will understand the situation ....otherwise it can turn into a nightmare in every parents life.
Replied By: beegal686 on Sep 22, 2009, 9:11PM
I'm from Australia and only just saw this show today. I have a 6 month old son who may, or may not, have to deal with this in the future. 

Watching the show, I am infuriated by the opinions of parents who have never gone through this with their children. They are so adamant they would never allow their child to live as the opposite sex rather pushing them into the gender roles society has created for them.  If they are loving parents and were faced with this situation, I'm sure they would feel differently about pigeon-holing their children.  Parents who have their kids best interests at heart would rather a happy child regardless of the public backlash.  I believe in allowing a child to be who they are, regardless of the opinions of society!

I believe the so-called expert sitting in the audience has NO basis to stand on! He didn't go through this with his children so what does he really know???? His comments that it is the parents fault are unjust!!!! I believe it has NOTHING to do with how parents raise their children and EVERYTHING to do with the child them self.  I personally know a family with 3 daughters who were raised exactly the same. The two eldest are the opitomy of femininity but the youngest is determined she is a boy.

I am not a religious person and as such don't believe god plays any role in the creation of children.  I believe in the science behind the chemical make-up of childrens brain when they are developing in the womb.
Replied By: andaust on Sep 22, 2009, 9:00PM
As a person who has suffered GID for as long as i can remember, i believe Dr. Dan Siegel's information and perspective is absolutely SPOT ON ! congratulations Dr, for finally bringing a  non-judgemental view to the public.
Sadly we live in a world of black and white and a mindset where people feel they must put everyone "in a box" and label it.  Human beings, sexuality and gender is not black and white, but many shades of grey. And its not a "choice", it's part of who we are. I have seen so many people with GID attempt to "pretend" it doesn't exist or push it aside, only for it to keep resurfacing. This is not something you can just ignore or push to the side.
To believe god/ Jesus / Buddha / Allah or a belief system, should direct how things in the REAL WORLD should work is nothing short of ridiculous ! Once upon a time they believed people who did not follow in their footsteps should be stoned to death ! or maybe we should still be doing that too?. Or maybe we can "pretend" all of the abuse of children that has happened under the umbrella or religion doesn't exist ?
Gender is many shades of grey, it's around us all, how many of us have met "tomboys" or butch girls or more femme males ? it's EVERYWHERE its part of our community. Sexual preference exists on a totally different scale to gender and is not always directly "hooked" into a persons stereotypical gender.
This is about awareness and people being true to who they are, none of us think "oh i think i will have GID today"  its also about people caring about people, and having understanding and empathy. GID can be long and complex discovery process and for some people it is clearer than others, hence why some people must transition and others can live on the fringe.
Support, understanding and education are important. Lets not forget their are laws in place about this stuff, ant i - discrimination etc.
It's so easy for people to sit on the sidelines and talk about how they think things should be or attempt to impose their view on something they haven't had to deal with.
Dr Phill, thank-you for raising the awareness of these issues, i would love to see some people who have successfully transitioned on the show to see how positive this can be for people's happiness.

Replied By: nosliw3 on Sep 15, 2009, 10:44PM - In reply to agnes12
I have identical twin boys, aged five, only one of which is gender confused.   
Replied By: agnes12 on Aug 21, 2009, 9:29AM
October 20, 2003
From Reuters News Service:
Gender Identity Hard-Wired by Genetics

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Gender identity is wired into the genes, which discounts the concept that homosexuality and transgender sexuality are a choice, California researchers reported on Monday.

"Our findings may help answer an important question -- why do we feel male or female?" Dr. Eric Vilain, a genetics professor at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, said in a statement. "Gender identity is rooted in every person's biology before birth and springs from a variation in our individual genome."

His team has identified 54 genes in mice that may explain why male and female brains look and function differently.

Since the 1970s, scientists have believed that estrogen and testosterone were wholly responsible for organizing the brain. Recent evidence, however, indicates that hormones cannot explain everything about the differences between male and female brains.

Published in the latest edition of the journal Molecular Brain Research, the UCLA discovery may also offer physicians an improved tool for gender assignment of babies born with ambiguous genitalia.

Mild cases of malformed genitalia occur in 1 percent of all births -- about 3 million cases. More severe cases -- where doctors can't inform parents whether they had a boy or girl -- occur in one in 3,000 births.

"If physicians could predict the gender of newborns with ambiguous genitalia at birth, we would make less mistakes in gender assignment," Vilain said.

Using two genetic testing methods, the researchers compared the production of genes in male and female brains in embryonic mice -- long before the animals developed sex organs.

They found 54 genes produced in different amounts in male and female mouse brains, prior to hormonal influence. Eighteen of the genes were produced at higher levels in the male brains; 36 were produced at higher levels in the female brains.

"We discovered that the male and female brains differed in many measurable ways, including anatomy and function." Vilain said.

For example, the two hemispheres of the brain appeared more symmetrical in females than in males. According to Vilain, the symmetry may improve communication between both sides of the brain, leading to enhanced verbal expressiveness in females.

"This anatomical difference may explain why women can sometimes articulate their feelings more easily than men," he said.

The scientists plan to conduct further studies to determine the specific role for each of the 54 genes they identified.

"Our findings may explain why we feel male or female, regardless of our actual anatomy," said Vilain. "These discoveries lend credence to the idea that being transgender --- feeling that one has been born into the body of the wrong sex -- is a state of mind."

I must say the last phrase is an extremely poor choice of words, but the rest of the story clearly indicates that what Dr. Vilain means is that being transgender is hard wired in the brain - a "state of mind" which cannot be changed.
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