Communication TwentyFourSeven

Childhood, Gender Identity, and Mental Health: Insights from Dr. Elizabeth Henry

October 22, 2023 Jennifer Arvin Furlong Season 3 Episode 74
Communication TwentyFourSeven
Childhood, Gender Identity, and Mental Health: Insights from Dr. Elizabeth Henry
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What happens when a seasoned pediatrician and parent coach, Dr. Elizabeth Henry, joins forces with me, your host Jennifer Furlong, to untangle the complexities of supporting LGBTQ youth? How do we as parents and caregivers approach the difficult, yet necessary, conversations with our children about societal issues like school shootings and their impact on mental health? This episode promises to equip you with the understanding and tools to navigate these hard conversations.

Media bias, technology, and the raw impact of societal tragedies are no strangers to the world of our children. As we dive into our own conversation on these difficult topics, Dr. Liz offers her valuable insights on how these elements influence our children's perceptions, and the importance of being aware of your child's media consumption. We also discuss understanding your child's maturity level and how to tailor conversations that are age-appropriate, acknowledging that parental emotions can shape the way children interpret information.

Finally, we turn our focus onto the often misunderstood terrain of gender identity and the experiences of the LGBTQ community. Dr. Liz highlights the unique attitudes of Gen Z towards labels, and the high rates of depression and suicide among LGBTQ youth. We also discussed the controversial use of hormone blockers for transgender youth. Dr. Liz and I don't necessarily agree when it comes to some of these topics and it's not an easy conversation, but we absolutely 100 percent agree that it's one we all need to be able to have. So join us, as we break down barriers and foster understanding to better support our youth today.

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Speaker 1:

I get what you're saying about not planting the seed, but I do think we have to be careful with assuming oh, you're a boy, you like pink stuff and you like to dress up in dresses or you like to play with Barbie. Therefore, you must be a girl.

Speaker 2:

Oh, no, no, because that cross play beyond the stereotypical, like girls playing with cars or matchbox cars or whatever, and boys playing with dolls or painting their nails. That doesn't take away from you being a boy, and so I agree with you being a girl, because that's part of exploring, right, it's just exploring different things. And back in the day where there was a set no, you can't play with dolls as a boy or a girl. You can't play with. That's for boys and this is for girls. That prevents them knowing from all sides of themselves, because there's a masculine and feminine side of all of us.

Speaker 1:

Dr Liz is back for round two. Dr Elizabeth Henry, who is affectionately known as Dr Liz, came back to the show for a round two because we just did not have enough time to talk about all the things in our previous episode. Here's a quick intro in case you have not listened to that episode yet, but do make sure that you go back and listen to that episode. Dr Liz is a board certified pediatrician, parent coach, speaker, author and workshop facilitator with over 20 years of experience. She provides parents with tools and resources to connect, communicate and support their preteens, teens and young adults, and in this episode we talk about the important conversations that parents should have with their children about really sensitive topics like school shootings and what it is to be transgender and like you just heard in that clip. We also talk about gender expression and stereotyping and how parents can approach all of these discussions in a supportive and an informative way. We also discuss the challenges and importance of supporting and understanding LGBT youth and how school shootings are impacting young people's psyche. Many people shy away from having conversations like this, especially with those who might not share the same political points of view. I think we do an excellent job, showing that when you come to a conversation with good intentions to listen, to understand it can be meaningful. I have much respect for Dr Liz and I'm so incredibly thankful to her for being willing to have tough conversations like these with me. Okay, let's get to it. Upbeat music playing with guitar and drums playing. Welcome to the Communication 24-7 podcast, where we communicate about how we communicate. I'm your host, jennifer Furlong. Upbeat music playing with guitar and drums playing. I'm your host, jennifer Furlong. I'm your host, jennifer Furlong. I'm your host, jennifer Furlong. I'm your host, jennifer Furlong.

Speaker 2:

I'm your host, Jennifer Furlong.

Speaker 1:

I'm your host, jennifer Furlong. I'm your host, jennifer Furlong. I'm your host, jennifer Furlong. I'm your host, jennifer Furlong. Have you actually witnessed like? Is it obvious to you that this has progressed Like? This is gradually, it has gotten worse and worse over the years, or is this something that's kind of like oh wow, out of nowhere, it's just all of a sudden really bad. What's been your experience with that?

Speaker 2:

Well, I think it's a different definition of coping or what they're coping with right. This generation, generation Z, the kids who are teens and young adults. What they're coping with is a lot different than what we're coping with right. So it's the social media which we talked about the last time, which we didn't have, being on all the time and available, with your phone never being unavailable, because you always have your phone or your computer or something with you. It's the existential crises that are concerning them, whether it be the change in climates, the school shootings which we talked about. So, yes, I find that kids are having difficulty with coping with a lot of the stressors and the challenges that are coming their way today. But it's hard to compare because they're totally different, right, and they have a different impact emotionally and physically. When I practiced, I saw a lot more kids with anxiety and I think this generation has a high level of anxiety and they're anxious and worried about things, and rightly so, because kids are worried about some school shooter coming in and they're there to learn right, and they see over and over again young people being shot and teachers being shot while sitting in school, and it's not just once that they see it now, with social media and with the ongoing news loops. It's over and over and over again, and you can't even really shield the younger kids, the seven or eight year olds now. They have phones or they have computers or iPads, and so even if you try to shield it from them, they see it in some way.

Speaker 1:

So and even if you say, ok, you're not going to have a phone, you're not going to have an iPad, they have friends at school that have them and so certainly they're going to have these types of conversations. So if they're, if you're not there as a part of that conversation, kind of help them navigate through those waters, then the kids that are at school with them they're going to find out about it. And I don't know, in a certain way, that that concerns me, that there could be a child out there learning about this stuff from other kids and who knows where the other kids are getting this information, and now they're kind of having to deal with this on their own, without the guidance of their parents. So even if you think that they're shielded from it because you don't allow them to have a phone or an iPad or you don't let them watch YouTube or whatever it is, they're getting the information from elsewhere.

Speaker 2:

Exactly, you've got to be in tune with that and kids are smart, I mean, so they know how to get around, like parental controls I mean you could put that iPad on lockdown and all of that. I have a friend of mine and she has. She, when her child was nine, like they put all the parental controls and she like through it. So it's best, as you said, jen, to have these conversations with your child, because it's better coming from you, because you can control how you say it, you know what they need to hear and what things they can take at that age. And it's better to come from you as a parent than the filtered information that's coming from their peers, which may or may not be accurate.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, that's. That's a big one right there. You know one of, as I, as a media analyst, one of the things I do is reading and rating the news for reliability and bias, and and just last night I had a webinar talking about that very thing. You know, depending on which side of the news you like to pay attention to, you're getting that filtered information and of course you know if you're only listening to far right-leaning sources or you're only paying attention to far left-leaning sources, that there's a lot of confirmation bias going on in there. You have absolutely no idea. You know about the conversations that are happening across the aisle, or you know at least even in the middle, and so that's you know. You have to be aware of the types of information that your kids are consuming, because they could very easily fall into that cycle, depending on who they're hanging out with. And then you know, then that leads to the group thing and you know everything else that can happen that we've known about for a very long time. But I think just the way the hyper partisan media that exists today, it really works to increase that division. And so we have even a more difficult task, you know, at hand, with our kids to make sure that they understand that aspect of it as well.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and just to add that, the technology you can't take away technology for them. They even in schools. They are using iPads, right, they are using computers or ebooks and textbooks, or sometimes on their iPads, so they're always you're not going to be able to shield them. So so a lot of a fair number of parents may have blinders on and and think that when they put, you know, if they don't tell them, if they, if they don't talk about it, they won't know about it. Which is not true at all.

Speaker 1:

You had mentioned earlier and I think we mentioned it the last time that we had a conversation, you know, one of the things that kids are really having to struggle with, you know, is the knowledge that school shootings, you know, unfortunately, over the past several years, it just, it seems like it has become this cycle, this never ending cycle that you know, regardless of the reasons why, it's just something that's happening to students or having to deal with, you know, school systems or having to deal with the preparation of it, you know, and if it does happen in their school, then they're having to deal with the crisis part of it, and so a huge part of the anxiety that a lot of these kids are feeling is a direct result of, even if they haven't had the experience themselves, there's a fear that this potentially could happen in their school. What type of conversations do you have with with kids regarding their concerns, and maybe even you know what? What do you say to their parents as well? Because this is a difficult conversation to have, you know, with your kids, because there's not really, not really a whole lot as a parent that you can do except, I guess, maybe listen. But really, your, what can you do. Your hands are tied, so how do you deal with that?

Speaker 2:

Right, and it also it depends on the age, right, and, and. So, first of all, you should, as a parent, when something happens, ask your child. You know what they know already, right, what they know, what they've heard. So you have a place to start and you know. If they've heard something or their classmates have been talking, you have the ability to correct what they've heard if it's wrong information, or reframe it in a way that they understand. It's important, especially when they're younger, not to tell them too much, right, because sometimes they're like oh, and this happened, and this happened, and and and and. So kids will guide you on how much they need to know, so, like, so, if your child is maybe six or seven and and they say something you know, somebody said there was a school shooting or somebody got killed in a school, you can. You can say you know, yes, some people got hurt in school, in a school, and the police came and they were able to keep the. Some people got hurt, but the police came and took the bad person away, or or something like that, and then stop and they might say, oh, okay, and then go out playing, right, when, when you as a parent might want to say and people were killed, and you know, go into the the the details of it, when they needed one sentence to explain it, and then they're fine.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Speaker 2:

And as a parent, what they also need to know is that they're safe. Right To reinforce as a parent yes, this happened, but you know your school is, is is doing everything so that this doesn't happen and I'll be here to, to to keep you safe. So always end with that, because there's there, is that, there's that feeling of threat, that of fear that you want to contain.

Speaker 1:

What if it were possible to bridge the gap between you and your teen so that you could communicate with honesty, compassion and understanding? What if you could transform your relationship with your teen so that you can guide them to be confident, capable adults who want to open up to you? If you like the sound of that, you need to get the book titled you Are Not a Bad Parent. It's by board-certified pediatrician Dr Elizabeth Henry. She will guide you down a streamlined path to creating lasting connection and true understanding between you and your teen. Get your copy today by clicking on the link in the show notes. I think that's a really good point that you just made about the details. You know, especially depending on the age level. Sometimes they don't need to know the gruesome details of what's happening. I agree with you there. I think sometimes the best thing to do is to just help reassure them. You know on a broader level, you know that you're safe and, yeah, this is what happened. But I think I don't know if it's because of social media. I don't know if it's because of the news that we read. I don't know if there's a bit of social contagion that occurs with this. And you know, social contagion is something that I think is touching a lot of different areas that are impacting kids today, but there really isn't a need to go into all of the details. You know, and in some ways you could do more harm than good, and that respect. So at what age do you think it's okay or how do you know when it's time to be able to have the more detailed types of conversations? You know, depending on what the topic is?

Speaker 2:

And I think that's where it's important that you know your child and you're in tune with your child, because different 10 year olds have different levels of maturity, right? Or you know a 15 year old, you know my daughter. I always say she was two years ahead. You know mature maturity wise, but some kids maybe two years behind. So it's important to kind of get a sense of your child and then have an open ended conversation, as I said, like what do you know? And as teenagers, you can really have more of a complete sit down conversation. This is what you need to do. And but again, I know some teenagers who say you know that that's too much. You know that's too much, yeah, and then they're becoming anxious and anxiety and as parents, a lot of times it helps us like we're like blah blah, blah, blah and I need to tell you everything and because you need to know, and if this happens, you need to hide under a desk and if somebody comes within a gun. And you're going into all this detail because you want to protect them and you want to give them every scenario so that they'll be prepared, and they're like you know, some kids are like no, I, you know, that's just like way too much. So it's important to have a conversation, so not just talking at them and about them. But if you're having an open conversation and dialogue, you, you, you can know and you know when it's too much and you give them the opening to say you know, I'm done, you know that's, you gave me enough information, I'm good right now, I've got it, and then you know okay, the conversation is over.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's another important point that I think you made regarding the. They feed off of the emotions that that you are expressing in the moment. So if you are super stressed out about something or you're showing that you're very anxious about this topic, kids will feed off of that. They're paying attention, and it's that's where I think a bit of that contagion begins to occur. It's like, oh, my mom is super, you know, upset, and now there's she's like really, really stressed out about this. So and she's talking to me about it I'm going to be all stressed out about it. And so I think, as parents, we really do have to be mindful of our presentation of the information and the way we're asking the questions. You know how we're asking the questions or how we're having the conversation just staying in tune with our own emotions and and taking a moment to think how is this impacting how my kid is is perceiving this message? You know, if they perceive that it's out of control, because I'm making it seem like it's out of control, then I think that just feeds into their fear even more. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And it's hard for parents. I mean, you have to, you have to finesse it and there's no. There's no set way to do something and each child in the family may be different. So, your approach to your oldest child may be different than your approach to the other two. Yeah, so there's there's. There's a guideline and a framework, but but you're going to have to apply it differently.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I remember when my daughter was really little she was probably about, I don't know, maybe six or seven years old at this time and she was in dance and we were in the bathroom and I was putting her hair up and we're putting it on the makeup, you know, cause she was going to have to be on stage. Yeah that's right. The dance mom and I put her hair up in the ponytail and at the base of her neck, I noticed that there were two really big, fat, juicy tics that had embedded themselves. I had no idea, you know, when they got there, how they got there, and I just I froze for a moment and I remember just thinking to myself in that point in time, I cannot upset this child, stay calm, because if I start freaking out, she is absolutely going to freak out. And so I very calmly told her oh there's just let me get, there's a couple of things in your hair that I need to get out of your hair. And she's just like, okay, no big deal. And I got the tweezers and I managed to get both of them out and she had no idea and we were able to. The situation remained calm, and so I I offer that just as an example of how you know, just really taking that opportunity to to think about oh, let, yeah, let's, let's not make things. We could potentially make things worse. You know, if our go to is to to freak out a little bit, Um, and in your right, I think every kid is different, so you really do have to be in tune with their personality, um, their communication style. You know, how comfortable are they talking about certain topics, their level of knowledge. All of those things are so incredibly important, which is why dinner time conversations, like we talked about last time, so so important, so you can get to know your kid and and understand how to communicate with them more effectively. Um, you know one thing that I wanted to have a few moments with you to talk about. Um, you know, we have they. They're called culture wars, you know, and, depending on your family, might be a left leaning, more liberal type of family. Your family might be right leaning, a more conservative type of family. The kids are caught in the middle. You know they're. They don't know any better. They're growing up in your household and so that they are soaking in everything that they are being fed, you know. But they also, as they go to school, they're having conversations with other kids. You know they're exploring, they're learning about new things. One thing that I'm interested in, something that is happening, um, you know, specifically within the LGBT community. Um, I've I've had several conversations with, with people who are in that community and I think even within that community, there are some concerns about what some are calling this social contagion of you know, I'm. I'm young and I'm going to be a part of whatever it is. You know, I would now want to be known as okay, I'm gay, I'm lesbian, I'm trans. Um, I even experienced a bit of this with with one of my own children. You know, when they were in high school they were a part of that community and now they're not. You know, all of a sudden, you know they're, they're young adults. Um, so what has been your experience? You know, as a pediatrician and parents I'm hearing it more and more often they're so concerned about outside influences. You know, especially now, the hot button issue is trans. You know issues. What type of conversations are you having with parents? Or, you know, have you heard you know from kids? Um, because it just seems like it's so prevalent today, way more, way more so than you know it used to be.

Speaker 2:

Well, I want to, um, yeah, and, and you hear it all the time and the different pronouns and it, it, it confuses parents and I still am educating myself. Yeah we are Like what are you correcting me? And, and, and I know that. But I think, um, it seems very prevalent now, but I think we also have to understand Gen Z, and that Gen Z is a generation that doesn't, um, believe in labels, right, so, so, like set labels, like our generation, we were like whatever, whatever someone told us, like authorities, and this is how it is, you'd say, oh, okay, this is how it is Right, and Gen Z, this generation, is, this is how it is. Well, why?

Speaker 1:

Mm, hmm.

Speaker 2:

Why is it the way it is Like, how? So? They're always, they're always questioning and there's not any gray, there's not any black or white, there's always a gray. And which is true. There's nothing is ever black and white, there's always gray. So you have to get this generation and there. There were many um people in the LK LGBTQ community when we were growing up. They just didn't say that. You know, there was no space to actually be that without being ostracized or or or uh, discriminated against or or or that. So this generation coming up um is more open and vocal about it and less in the in the closet about it. So I think we um need to recognize that as well. So it was more prevalent because more people are saying it and and but I think um, I mean there were people in this community way in ancient times, right.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah.

Speaker 2:

But they weren't as vocal or they were persecuted if they said anything.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

So but as and gender gender identity is not is usually it is not. You don't come to it, you can't be convinced that you're a different gender. You're born with your gender identity and then it's really solidified by the age of four. Where four-year-old Kent knows what identity, what, who they are inside or what they feel inside, whether I feel feminine or masculine, a boy or a girl. that's usually set by age four, so you can't catch it. It's not like you know. If I'm hanging out with someone who's transgender or people in the LGBTQ community and I'm not that it's not like they're going to influence me to be which I think a lot of people have to understand. So it's not like you know they're pulling me in and peer pressure or you have to be that. If you're that, you know you're that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And it's kind of difficult because, say, we're talking about transgender. So if a person is born physically with the physical attributes of a boy, right they're, you know the physical characteristics and they're assigned sex at birth is oh, here's a baby boy. You know you have a penis and all of that, you're a boy. But inside, like inside, they do not identify with anything about being a boy. You know they identify inside. You know female characteristics, feminine characteristics. So who they are inside is female. So it's like being female trapped in a male's body.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

But it's hard for anybody outside of that to get that, because there's the feeling of who you are inside which no one else knows. But you right, like you know, one else can feel that. Everybody else can see who you are right. Oh well, that's a boy, looks like a boy, you know, but no one can actually experience.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

What it is on the inside.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And so to a lot of people looking in. You know, it's just like it's hard to get that right. Because, like, but it's really for people who are transgender. It's really like being trapped in a body that is incongruent.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

And so it's like being trapped in a body that is incongruent with who they are and growing up that way and experiencing that. And, as I said, some kids and can experience that incongruency and start to experience it at age four and I'm five and I'm sure people have heard some stories where five year old, you know, will say I'm not, I can't wear that, or I'm not that, I'm not a boy. So to grow up with feeling trapped inside all types of they call gender dysphoria, depression, sadness. Like 45% of LGBTQ members of the LGBT community, teens, young people have thought about committing suicide in the past year, which is which is high. So so there is a lot of that going on and you know, and I know you had questions and you wanted me to talk about how a parent I think.

Speaker 1:

Well, I, yeah, you know, from a communication standpoint, I think, one thing that is interesting, you know that I have observed in a lot of these conversations that are happening across, regardless of politics you know, I don't want to get into politics, but the but the communication piece I have heard people expressing concerns that you can be a boy and be feminine and you can be a girl and be more masculine. You know, and just coming from a personal example, I remember, you know, growing up I was one of those girls, I was the tomboy, right, you know. I, you know I had my moments where I like to dress up, you know, like in, like I was a princess, but I really enjoyed going out, roughing it up, climbing the trees, you know. And then I end up growing up playing sports, you know, and softball, and I just really enjoyed a lot of the things that you know we consider to be more masculine, like, even to this day I love football, like I'm a huge football fan. I cannot wait for a football season to start again. But there is a concern, you know, particularly in the gay community. I have heard them express. You know, I can be gay and be feminine and I'm still a man, you know. And I can be a woman. I can be lesbian, right, you know. And yes, I'm attracted to other women and I might have masculine traits, but I'm still a woman. Yes, well, I think that's. That's one of the things that I'm hearing when people are having these conversations and they're almost talking past each other. It is, you know it. Yeah, you can be feminine and be a boy. So just because you, you like pink, you know all the stereotypical stuff, yeah, that we that we yeah, yeah, it doesn't necessarily mean that you are the other gender. You know it's as you can enjoy those things without being the other gender. So I find that that's the interesting part. You know, an interesting observation that that I've made with with multiple communities talking about this issue with kids. What are your thoughts on that? Because it's a really difficult thing, but I think it's an important thing. To be fair, you know, in the conversation I get what you're saying about not planting the seed, but I do think we have to be careful with with assuming oh, you're a boy, you like pink stuff and you like to wear. You know you like to dress up in dresses or you like to play with Barbie. Therefore, you must be a girl. Jumpstart your healthy living journey with 30 days to healthy living. This best selling nutrition set is designed to act as a reset to establishing healthy habits and a healthy lifestyle so you can get more energy, manage weight and feel fit. Now, with more choices than ever, you can customize your 30 days with delicious protein shakes, detox teas and supplements, all designed to support your goals. Ready to start feeling better and healthier? Get started today by clicking on the link in the show notes.

Speaker 2:

Oh, no, no, because, because that that cross play, or I mean beyond the stereotypical, like you know yeah cars or matchbox cars or whatever, and boys playing with dolls or painting their nails. That doesn't take away from you being a boy and you, so I agree with you being a girl, because that's part of exploring right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

It's just exploring different things and, and you know back in the day where there was a set no, you can't play with dolls as a boy or a girl. You can't. That's for boys and this is for girls, you know. That prevents them knowing from all sides of themselves, right, yeah?

Speaker 1:

yeah.

Speaker 2:

Mass, because there's a masculine and feminine side of all of us, right and and it's, and it allows that exploration and, yeah, touch with both sides.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

I think that is important to let the are our kids explore. You know all facets of play and it doesn't mean that you know, if you're playing with dolls, you're, you're, you're, you know going to, and you're a boy, you're going to be a gay man, or so it doesn't mean, and it doesn't mean anything, Right, yeah yeah, it's like just you're playing.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, hey, I mean anything and enjoying it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's like you know we make it mean something, why, and then that creates more, just anxiety and and and pressure and all of that. But I think it's important for parents to know it. Let them explore doesn't mean anything about them. It doesn't mean that you know they're going to be there. It doesn't mean that they're going to be there sexuality or or you know how they will grow up. But you know, let them explore.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I will. I will say one concern that I have and I know you know this is a part of conversations that a lot of people are hesitant to have, and when they do start having the conversation, they get really emotionally invested in it and the idea of kids who, who think they might be you know, the opposite gender, and then the idea of having them take hormones or you know, whether or not kids should be able to have surgery. You know, as a pediatrician, I think that's one of the big thoughts on that because, I will be upfront, I have really strong reservations about, you know, a 12 year old girl who they're exploring and they're confused and we all hated our body. You know, when you start your period and you're growing boobs and you know it's just, it's a really awkward time. You know and I don't know anything about being a boy, but I'm sure you know just being a mom of a son, they go through that awkward phase as well, you know all that confusion To make a decision that's so permanent. you know there are so many detransitioners that that are coming out now. As a pediatrician, what, what do you think about, you know, kids that are being put on hormones at such a young age and, and there are even, you know, kids that are undergoing surgery and they're still teenagers, you know, 15 years old at this point. I don't know. I have strong reservations and a huge concern about that. What, what are your thoughts coming from a pediatricians point of view?

Speaker 2:

Well, and your thoughts and your concerns are all valid, but from the pediatricians point of view and the American Academy of Pediatrics, all of those things have a place, but it's not like it's not done without a lot of thought and it's not done without there's a whole team that helps the family, because it's not just the teen or whoever the child go through that process. Now, as I had said before, when a child knows and I mean it constantly knows that I'm just using layman's terms, right and understand like this body outside doesn't match who I am inside right. Like and to operate as a. If your gender identity is female and you look like you're a sign sex as male and everything about inside inside it's not like oh, I just play with dolls or I just play, it's like I am that and I know that and the world sees you as not that. It just creates anxiety, depression, sat, I mean. It just creates a whole, I mean downward spiral.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah.

Speaker 2:

And so the place of those hormone blockers, or the hormone blockers a lot of the times is, especially when they're going through puberty, and if their body is changing even more towards that opposite of who they feel they are, you know that is causing just increased emotional trauma. Yeah, yeah. And then the place of the hormones is to stop puberty and so that the whole process can be assessed. There's like a team of social workers and not just necessarily surgical, right Cause a lot of kids don't do surgical, but they've got the progression so that the emotional component, their therapist you know endocrinologists teams, can actually work with the family and figuring out what the best course of action is. And the hormones that suppress puberty are. That's been done in other cases where kids have. I don't know if you've ever heard of precocious puberty and where kids undergo puberty earlier, like at nine, which shouldn't be right.

Speaker 1:

So yeah, I mean, I was 10 when I started my period and I had no idea what I was going through.

Speaker 2:

But some have it, like you know, six, seven eight.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I couldn't even imagine. Oh my God.

Speaker 2:

They use these hormones to stop that at that time because it's too early for emotionally, and then it'll come on at a more, you know, opportune time when they're more mature. So these hormones and the use of hormones in regulating or stopping puberty is not a new thing, but it is used, yes, to stop it. So that okay. So let's see what's going on, let's talk about it so and so it's not just, oh, I wanna be, you know, on this, let's stop puberty and go on. There's a whole kind of process with that and, you know, from the American Academy of Pediatric Standpoint, that is, there is a place for that. There is a place for that, after you know, appropriate assessment, appropriate therapy, talking about it from both family and child perspective, to whether this is the best course of action in that instance.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah, it's tough and I don't envy families that are going through this or kids that are going through this, because I can imagine it's such a difficult conversation to have. And you know, I know I have my own bias, you know, and so it's. It's, it's really. When you have your own bias, it's really hard to wrap your brain around it, you know, cause I have so many questions about. You know, with hormone blockers causing osteoporosis, you know, because you need the bone growth, and you know, and then what if you do regret it? You know, with a lot of the kids that are now, you know, getting becoming young adults and wanting to go back, but now their bodies have changed so much that they really can't go back. So now I feel for them in that man, what a, what a huge thing that they went through and now they're having to deal with the ramifications of that decision. You know, and some of them do say that they just wish that someone had said hold up, you know, you're still changing you're. You know, I know you feel kind of weird, but you know it's, it's wait a little while. And I told you, you're, you're a hundred percent certain, and it just my heart goes out to them. You know, with, with, what they're having to deal with now, but yeah, it's a tough thing, it really is a tough thing.

Speaker 2:

And anything permanent, like you know, whether it's surgical or anything permanent. Really, I mean it's permanent, yeah. Yeah, you're very damn certain, right, exactly, and and I won't even get a tattoo because of that.

Speaker 1:

I don't even have any tattoos because I have this fear of commitment. Yeah, yeah, yeah yeah.

Speaker 2:

But yeah, but in the meantime, like the, the, the young people or the teens who are transgender, they not permanent, you know, they do the binding of the yeah, that's right of the breast and different things like that and so, which are non-permanent. But you know, as they get older, if, if that's who they are and they continue to do that, then then I can see, you know, taking more permanent procedures to do that, right, right, and then that, that right.

Speaker 1:

There's a different conversation for parents, because I wholeheartedly believe whatever your child is going through, I mean we have to support them. You know, yeah, in the, in the old neighborhood that I used to live in, there was a young boy who lived just down the road from us and he was friends with my daughter and he came to our house one night, just beside himself, because, you know, he's a black, early teen young boy and his father absolutely could not accept the fact that he was gay, could not accept the fact and, you know, he threw him out of the house. They'd gotten into a big argument. So that's when he came, you know, over to our house and stayed with us for a little while. And you know, regardless if you understand it or not, you know, I think these kids need, you know, someone that they are able to turn to, you know, in times like that. So I guess, even though I don't have experience in this, you know, like I said before, I do have experience with you know a daughter who kind of went through this. I guess it was a phase. You know she was experimenting, you know, and she calls it a phase, but whether I agreed with it or not, whether I understood it or not, I just felt like I had to be there for her, you know, and kind of just let her know that she will always have a home, regardless, you know. So I guess at the end of the day it's really what I hope you know for any parent, that they can just feel that that sense of care and love you know for their child.

Speaker 2:

Unconditional love right, yeah, yeah, it's not attached to you, know who they are or what they do. You love and that's all they want. Right, right, yes, to be loved unconditionally. And those, those who are in the LGBT community if One person like affirms them, the suicide rate is cut in half. So so, as you said, it's important to you know, support them in who they are and and and have them know that you love them unconditionally, no matter what. Now the support mean like, agree and like do everything. They say no, right. Yeah but, um, but again, as you know, as you know, and I know, it's that open Conversation right yeah and you'd conversation, even having the tough conversations, yeah, and in the case that we're talking about, I don't understand. Like not not that this you shouldn't be, you know I can't give you are, but like I don't understand help me. Understand. Can you explain it and and really give them the ability to have dialogue with you and talk about it? And you may not agree, but you know, have this conversation, have them explaining to what is it like for you, what is it like for you.

Speaker 1:

Yeah like.

Speaker 2:

What is it like for you every day? If you think you're, you know what is the experience you're having.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. I think that, right, there is the best, best advice of anything is you know, just ask that question what is it like for you? How are you Experiencing the day? You know, and and and what does this look like to you? You know it. And and just having those guiding questions, so, so that they feel that they are able to have this conversation with you, I think that goes such a long way. Yes, you know, you want them to be able to open up to you. You really do. I think if kids feel like they can't open up to you, it makes it that much more difficult for everybody, and it's just, it's harder, it's harder to manage that. Yeah Well, dr Liz, thank you so much for having this conversation with me. I mean, I know we could go on for hours and hours and hours, because I mean, truly, you know, this is, this is one of those topics. It's it's not an easy topic, no, you know, but I I really do appreciate your willingness to share your opinions about it. You know, not just as a human being, you know as as a pediatrician, you know as a parent and, and I know you and I, even though we don't really agree on a lot of policies. You know at the political level. I very much have a huge respect for you and you know, and in your knowledge and what you think about these things. So I I really am just so appreciative of you taking your time to have this conversation.

Speaker 2:

Well, thank you, and I appreciate you having me and I appreciate, although we may have different views on different things, you're being open, right, and that's the key right and is being open. Everybody will have a different point of view I mean, that's Life everybody has a different point of view our kids, parents but it's really being open and willing, yes, yes, right, yeah to to actually listen and and you know, and you know compromise.

Speaker 1:

That's right. That's right. Listen to understand, yes, and even if we just still feel like we don't understand, just All right. Is there anything else you would like to say? Any parting words for listeners as we wrap up?

Speaker 2:

I Mean I, I just, you know parenting is hard. It there and it is. It is as difficult and you know, I think what we just said, that the key is really being willing to listen to your children, and they do have their own points of view and we can learn from them, as as they learn from us.

Speaker 1:

That's right. Okay, we're gonna end on that note right there. Wonderful. Thanks again, dr Liz, and those of you who are listening, make sure you check the show notes. I'm gonna share all of dr Liz's information, just like I did in last week's conversation. So, once again, if you didn't have an opportunity to listen to it, hit the rewind button, go to last week's and because we had a wonderful conversation at that point as well. So I hope everybody has a wonderful rest of your day and you all take care now Bye. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed this episode and you'd like to help support the podcast, please share it with others, post about it on social media or leave a rating and a review.

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Media Bias, Technology, and School Shootings
Guidelines for Age-Appropriate Conversations With Kids
Understanding Gender Identity and LGBTQ Experiences
Exploring Gender and Childhood Development
Understanding and Supporting Transgender Youth