A New Jersey pastor and his wife who allowed their now 10-year-old son to start identifying as a girl say they made the decision to let him live as he liked because he gravitated to "all things girly" as a child and was so unhappy with his life as a boy he tried to kill himself.
With his son, Ben, now living as a girl named Rebekah, Pastor Christopher Bruesehoff of Holy Counselor Lutheran Church in Vernon, New Jersey, told Barcroft TV that he is worried about his transgender child's life as Rebekah gets older in the world.
"I've always worried about the reaction with Rebekah, both in the community and the church and the world. I'm very worried about how the world is going to treat her, because I see a lot of ugliness in the world on a regular basis," he said.
Rebekah's mother, Jamie, who struggles with depression and anxiety, has been writing about her journey on her blog, I Am Totally *That* Mom.
"Rebekah has always been gender non-conforming. As young as 2 or 3 she gravitated toward typically feminine things. She loved pink and sparkles, all things girly and that was fine with us," Jamie said.
"As her gender non-comformity intensified we started to notice some distress around things like being grouped with boys at school or in activities. By the time she was 7 all of this kind of hit a crisis point. Her anxiety was crippling and her depression was becoming life-threatening and we were at a loss. We were faced with a 7-year-old kid who wanted to die. At one time she punched out the screen in her second story window and tried to jump out," the pastor's wife explained.
Rebekah told Barcroft, "The hardest part of all this was when I didn't transition and I was not happy and it didn't feel right."
Jamie said they found a gender specialist who helped Rebekah understand who she is. After conversations with the specialist, "Rebekah came to tell us this is definitely me. I'm a girl in my head in my heart."
Rebekah added, "I felt like I was a girl because I liked the color pink and I liked girls' clothes and how they wore their hair and stuff."
Once Ben started fully identifying as Rebekah, Jamie said her transgender daughter became happy.
"When I see pictures of Ben I just think of it as part of my past and now I'm me," Rebekah said.
The family is now getting ready to put Rebekah on puberty blockers but Jamie explained that the decision to completely transition will be left to Rebekah when she turns 18.
"Rebekah really doesn't want to think about the medical side of it. She doesn't want to develop into a man. Medically transitioning involves a lot of different stuff and every transgender person chooses their own adventure. For Rebekah, the first step would be puberty blockers which will pause puberty and prevent her from going through male puberty and developing secondary male characteristics like facial hair, a deeper voice and an Adam's apple that are irreversible," Jamie said.
"The next step would be cross hormones. Rebekah is a natal male and so she would take estrogen to develop and go through female puberty. As far as surgery she hasn't indicated a desire for that, but that is a decision she gets to make down the road anyway. That's not something she would do before she is 18," the pastor's wife added.
Despite how the pastor and his wife feel about their son, however, last summer the American College of Pediatricians warned legislators and educators that teaching children to accept transgenderism is child abuse.
"The American College of Pediatricians urges educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex. Facts — not ideology — determine reality," the organization noted in a statement listing an eight-point explanation of its stance.
The national organization of pediatricians and other healthcare professionals dedicated to the health and well-being of children said while everyone is born with a biological sex, gender is an awareness and sense of oneself as male or female. It is a social and psychological concept.
"No one is born with an awareness of themselves as male or female; this awareness develops over time and, like all developmental processes, may be derailed by a child's subjective perceptions, relationships, and adverse experiences from infancy forward. People who identify as 'feeling like the opposite sex' or 'somewhere in between' do not comprise a third sex. They remain biological men or biological women," the organization said.
"When an otherwise healthy biological boy believes he is a girl, or an otherwise healthy biological girl believes she is a boy, an objective psychological problem exists that lies in the mind not the body, and it should be treated as such. These children suffer from gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria, formerly listed as gender identity disorder, is a recognized mental disorder in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. The psychodynamic and social learning theories of GD/GID have never been disproved," it further explained.