4-Year-Old Is "Transitioning" Gender Before 1st Day Of Kindy
It has been revealed that a four-year-old child who has yet to start primary school has already begun the process of "transitioning" their gender, sparking a debate on how young - or how old - someone should be to make the decision.
The question seems a timely one, as one doctor at The Children's Hospital Westmead has admitted that referrals for gender services have "escalated rapidly" as the number of young children opting to change their sex has, in some areas, tripled.
And The Daily Telegraph reports the deputy secretary of school operations at the NSW Education Department Gregory Prior as saying it was becoming a more common issue within their schools.
"We have a number of students who are going through gender transition in our schools... Without breaching privacy, we have a four-year-old who is transitioning to kindergarten next year who has identified as transgender," Mr Prior said, before declining to reveal the birth sex of the preschooler.
While some psychologists have voiced concerns about whether a four-year-old is mature enough to make the decision to change genders, Catherine McGregor, a leading transgender advocate has said that, in most cases, children are aware of themselves from a very young age.
"In my experience, kids with strong cross-gender identification tend to get it right," Ms McGregor explained, "but I can understand there would be caution on the part of the department and medical practitioners on making any irreversible decisions at that stage."
In Melbourne, a prominent child psychologist has pointed out the marked differences in the Royal Children's Hospital's gender dysphoria unit in the last decade.
In 2006, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg said, they had one child "client"; today, they have 250 children, some as young as three.
"It is the feeling of being born in the wrong body," Dr Carr-Gregg went on. "These kids exist, and on some estimates up to 2.7 per cent of children would fit into this category."
Concerningly, he also explained that children and adolescents "forced to live in denial" were often bullied and, tragically, had high suicide rates.
"There is a huge difference between dress-ups and a child believing with every fibre of their being they are in the wrong body.
"These children can be managed with compassion and sympathy, and they can lead perfectly happy lives."
But Rose Cantali, a clinical psychologist, urged caution.
"I would be very hesitant and other psychologists would say the same," she said. "Everything is developmental at that age."
What do you think? Is four years old too young? Or should we trust our children?