Multiple news sources have come out with the story of a 4-year-old Canadian transgender child that was recently banned from wearing female clothing in public. This decision was made by two judges from Alberta, Canada, and has in turn, prompted a call for change in how gender identity is handled legally.
The mother of the child, Susan Smith (whose name has been changed to protect the identity of the child), has “called for lawyers and judges to receive better training on gender identity” (theguardian) after understanding the dysphoria that her child was facing. Her daughter was biologically born a boy, however, she began to refer to herself as a girl around the time that she was two. Smith didn’t think much of her child’s statements at first, but as she matured, she continued to express confusion over having the anatomy of a boy because she knew she was a girl. Smith then realized that her child was transgender and allowed her daughter to dress the way that she wanted to. Once her child began to wear conventionally female clothing, Smith noticed a significant increase in her child’s confidence and attitude.
“Our eyes locked and it was maybe the millionth time they told me they were a girl … and I promised I was going to do whatever I could to validate and support them and to be that one person they could go to.” (Smith, CBC)
While Smith was accepting towards the way her child wished to be identified, her father, whom was divorced from Smith, fought to have full custody of the child. He believed that her “gender confusion” was due to the way that Smith had raised her. The resulting decision allowed Smith to keep custody of her child, however, the child would not be allowed to wear female clothing in public. This was later altered to allow Smith’s child to be able to wear the clothes she chose, but granted the father primary custody.
Smith is currently fighting to reclaim custody, while sharing her story to show how her child has been affected by the court’s rulings. While her daughter ultimately has the freedom to wear what she chooses, Smith points out that because her child even had to go to court due to her gender identity, it leads her to believe that she did something wrong by identifying as female.
On theguardian.com, an article about Susan Smith showcases a study done about trans children, which shows how they typically have better mental health if they are freely allowed to express and identify by their preferred gender. Dr Ilana Sherer who conducted the study states: “socially transitioned children are doing fine, or at least as well as their age-matched peers and siblings.” Therefore, complete acceptance of a person’s preferred gender, especially starting as early as childhood, allows for them to accept themselves within society.
Article by Madison Marzano