Virtual Voices

The boy who's becoming a girl

Health

At the age of 7, Thomas Lobel was diagnosed with gender identity disorder. At age 8, he began "transitioning." With the active support of his parents-a lesbian couple who adopted him when he was 2-Thomas is in the process of becoming "Tammy." Now 11 years old, Thomas, who dresses like a girl and is called Tammy, has begun taking hormone-blocking drugs to stop him from going through puberty.

Parents Pauline Moreno and Debra Lobel, who live in the San Francisco area, report that at the age of 3, Thomas told them (through sign language used due to a speech impediment), "I am a girl."

According to a report in Britain's Daily Mail, Moreno believes they're doing what is best for their child. "The protocol now is to transition these children as soon as you can make a diagnosis, because otherwise they end up being not one thing or the other . . . because they experienced puberty."

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An implant in Thomas's arm blocks the release of hormones, essentially keeping him, as Moreno explains, "a pre-pubescent boy until she decides and we feel that she can make this decision about surgery." At age 14 or 15 Thomas will choose whether to go through male or female puberty.

San Francisco is one of four cities in the United States that has a hospital with a program for transgender children. No doubt Ms. Moreno and Ms. Lobel had little difficulty finding a psychiatrist to lead them all through this process, or perhaps even to suggest and encourage it. They report having a good support system, with friends who make it a point to tell Thomas how pretty he looks.

I also have no doubt that Thomas is a troubled child who needs help. And the help his parents, psychiatrist, and friends have chosen to give him is to change him from a boy to a girl.

To be given an official psychiatric diagnosis of gender identity disorder at the age of 7 is unconscionable. To begin "transitioning" an 8-year-old little boy into a little girl is tragic. My heart breaks for Thomas and for a world in which gender confusion prevails.

Marcia Segelstein
Marcia Segelstein

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