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5 year old daughter wants to be a boy

I had a very intense conversation with my 5 year old daughter today.  She told me that she wants to be a boy, this is not the first time that she has told me this.  She has made little comments over the past 2 years such as wanting to have "boy" toys and clothes.  When I would ask her why, and also tell her that she didn't have to be a boy to play with "boy" toys and she would say she was just joking. I have also found her wearing her male cousins clothes.  None of this really bothered me until today.  Today was the day she really cried and said that she wanted to be a boy, she wants to cut her hair off and wear boy clothes that she dosn't want to get married and she does not want to have a baby.   She was very emotional when telling me this and I told her that I would love her no matter what she wanted to be, and she was concerned about how people (family and friends) would feel about it.  This is why I am concerned....she must really be serious because she is thinking of how it's going to make other people feel.  She really thinks that people are going to be angry with her.  How can she be able to think and feel so deeply about this?  After the conversation I took her to school and she told me not to tell her teacher.  I always told myself that no matter what, I will stand behind my daughter and have always loved her unconditionally.  I told her that if she still feels this way when she is 10, then we will act on her feelings...was that the right thing to do?  


This discussion is related to Daughter wants to be a boy.
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13167 tn?1327194124
I'm curious about how she phrased it - "I want to be a boy".  I do know some kids (only 2) who seem to be cross-gendered from very early on,  and they state "I AM a girl" and I AM a boy".  Not "I want to be".  "I am".

I think I would ask her:

1.  What do boys get to do?  What do girls get to do?

2.  What's the best thing about boys?  What's the best thing about girls?

And questions like that.  I sense she wants to be a boy because of some priviledge they have,  or status,  etc,  not necessarily because she thinks she is one.

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Avatar universal
She likes to play with toys that boys play with and I told her that she can play with boy toys without having to be a boy, but she still wants to wear boy clothes and cut off her hair to look like a boy and was very excited about the idea.  I am going to ask those questions that you suggested and see what she says.  Thanks for responding.  I just wonder why she was so emotional about it this morning.  
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Avatar universal
Agree with Rock Rose. Children who seem to have transgender issues displayed at an early age will often insist that they ARE of the opposite sex, not that they want to be of the opposite sex. I have known several 5 year old girls who go through this type of phase very acutely -- and then it goes away. None of them however insisted that they WERE boys.
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Avatar universal
Thank you so much for these postings.  My 5 yo daughter has "wanted to be a boy" for several years now.  At first, I dismissed it as I also wanted to be a boy at the age of 9 or so (because of the status, strength they have, better in sports, etc), but thought she was rather young for her to feel this way.  However, it has become more acute -- she was crying hard about it yesterday.  I have asked her similar questions to those you suggested, but will be more direct next time.  I just want her to be comfortable with herself and as happy as she can be.
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Avatar universal
My daughter, also 5, has been wanting to wear boy's boxer shorts for a year or so now - she started off pinching her little brothers but I succumbed and bought her own (to save his from the perpetual stretching). She started taking only boys' identities in role play games too, though still seems to play the same kind of 'mums and dads' type games she ever did. She does join in with my son with Power Rangers and Spiderman but doesn't seem to initiate those games as much herself. She asked to start wearing trunks for swimming soon after, and has increasingly wanted to restrict any 'girlie' type clothes in her wardrobe. Last week all came to a head as she started expressing her desire to cut her hair short, to draw a 'willy' on her genitalia, and (for me the most stressful) explaining that she doesn't know why she wants to be a boy, 'it's just my (her) body does'. I have been reading all this stuff on the net about gender dysphoria and have let her throw out her dresses and most of her skirts, and since that day have only put her in trousers. She still plays dolls with her friends, she colours and sticks as she always has, and her behaviour is very different form my very classical little boy. I just feel very confused and upset. People used to reassure me about the boxer shorts but it clearly gets harder and harder for them to do that. I'm terrified she may be transgender, predominantly because I can't bear to think of her suffering, but also for me, grieving the loss of my beautiful little girl. I also can't help but worry about what other parents at school may think, no matter how silly I know that is. And not knowing is so hard - the waiting to see what will come, as I'm not aware anyone can tell me now which way she will go. And then I feel guilty for all the parents who've lost a child, or faced a terrible illness...I guess a little perspective is important too...just to keep on loving this wonderful little person..whoever s/he turns out to be.
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Avatar universal
It may sound odd but you should show her masturbation and tell her that if she became a boy it wouldn't feel as good.
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145992 tn?1341345074
I wouldn't teach masturbation and say it wouldn't feel as good.  That isn't going to change who your daughter feels inside.  I'm not too savvy on trans-gendered individuals so I'm not sure if there is any difference in the child saying "I am" or "I want to be" but most trans-gendered people know early on that they are just not comfortable in their own skin.  They have always felt that something wasn't right.  I think you should have you daughter seek some counseling.  Not to try to change her because she is who she is but just to get more understanding of how she's feeling.  Support her either way, I'm sure it is very difficult for her to go through all of these emotions, she needs you there.
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Avatar universal
My 5 year old is going through the same thing! The exact same thing. Down to being emotional about it. She has been through a lot in the last 2-3 years , being taken away from me for 18 months due to me not being on bi polar meds which personally I think was 100% wrong . My kids are always clean and taken care of they want for nothing my house is immaculate ect. Nonetheless , I don't know what to do , I tell her , Livvy I wanted 2 little girls that's why God gave me you and your sister , there are times I can get her to wear what I pick out and she will let me do her hair , I tell her she looks so beautiful, I'm alaways complimenting them both , but u know in my heart , she feels more " her" in her basketball shorts and her " shark shirt" LOL she's adorable either way. And yes no matter what , I will always unconditionally love them.both. idk if its a phase or if its what she went through or what ? Help ?!
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189897 tn?1441126518
COMMUNITY LEADER
   I am sure that our female posters will add to this.  I have always felt that a lot of this is due to who the little girl is playing with.  Got a feeling that if she is in her basketball shorts - her "gang" is not a bunch of little girls.  
   I have taught a zillion kids. I have had some very good (actually extremely good- as in division one collages)  athletic girls.  Most of them wore jeans to school.  Some of them wore jeans and t shirts.  That begin to change to some extent in high school.  A lot of them I have followed their careers.  They all have gotten married or are in the process of .
  Point being - don't stress about it too much.  She also has been through a tough time.  She needs to feel comfortable with herself and her crowd.
   And by the way,  when school starts and she makes new friends - all of this could change - and actually probably will many times.  I have also had the "Goth" girls - who I have enjoyed just as much.  So love her ...learn with her....grow with her.  Best wishes.
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Avatar universal
My daughter is 5 and goes through similar things. The difference is, I have 5 kids and I've raised them fairly i.e. without the discrimination and judgement that most parents put on their children.  I'm a humanist.  Do you know gender doesn't make a damn bit of difference until puberty?  The fact that our society divides "boy" and "girl" clothes, toys, and activities is mostly conditioning and has nothing to do with how human beings naturally behave.  I recommend looking up some feminist, and gender equal philosophies, which I learned in some college courses.  Look up "X: A fabulous child's story."  The main point is that gender differences don't become very apparent until puberty sets in, unless other people like parents, educators, media or others in society push children into these confining roles.  I have raised all my children with open choices as soon as they could express themselves and mostly dress themselves - around 18 months - 3 years old. My 5 year old daughter, my oldest, is the only one who says she is the opposite sex.  I have not influenced my kids either way, only accepted them and told them to be themselves.  I have my daughter "a tomboy," which is a stupid label, just like my typical "hyper boys" and my "girly girl" who probably has a more scientific mind that most kids 5 years old than her (she's 3).  I understand thinking that your children were born perfect, since as parents, we created them and they are our babies, of course we think they are perfect just the way they are...but remember their own self-image is still a part of that. The people on here who are stressing to send your children to the therapist because they want to be the opposite gender or saying "there might be hope,"  The only hope you need to look for is inside yourself: Will you choose to be an open minded and compassionate parent/family member and stay strong and brave for your child who just mind be *gasp* transgender or gay?  Or will you drown in your own ignorance and/or try to force your child to be something they aren't, not knowing what kind of prison you may be leaving their physical form and minds in?  Look up the stats on depression and suicide among gay and transgender teens.  Do you want to keep your baby no matter how they define themselves? Or lose them?  Talk to your children and make sure their feelings are of inadequacy, and make sure they know that girls can be tough, athletic, independent and so on, and that boys can be sensitive, loving, emotional...And then if they still want to be the opposite gender START SUPPORTING YOUR KIDS! PARENTS ARE SUPPOSED TO LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY!
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Avatar universal
Dear gally1, your post is from about 5 years ago and I wander if you have any updates to share. I found you because just about an hour ago my daughter asked me when she was going to be a boy because she really didn't like being a girl. She was not crying and was not being emotional about it, but she looked rather serious and, being the goofball she is, it really worried me. She's said other times before that she wants to be a boy or that she is a boy... but she's also say she IS a lion or that she IS a dog, you know what I mean. She has a vivid imagination and she's always pretended to be someone of something else. This all started about the end of her pre-school year. She connected with a couple of boys and she's been playing with them ever since. They are very close! The boys love playing with my daughter as much as she likes playing with them. Also, my daughter likes playing with cars but likes playing with dolls, too. She usually pretends to be male characters and she loves superheroes. She doesn't like wearing dresses but she doesn't have a problem wearing pink t-shirts. I don't know what to think. She also told me there's this one boy in her class who keeps telling she can't do this or can't do that because she's a girl. Is she just rebelling against that? When she asked me when she was going to be a boy I said, in my most loving tone, that she was never going to be a boy. That she was going to grow up to be a woman and that it was something very special because only women could have babies. She smiled at the idea of having a baby. She said she wanted to have a boy :-). So, I don't know. I'm curious to know how's your daughter doing these days. Did she outgrow the I-want-to-be-a boy face?
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Avatar universal
This is an old post but I saw ut got bumped up and the masturbation thing is very disturbing. NOT the route to go.
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Avatar universal
Oh, yes! I read that and thought it was the worse advise ever! :-(
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Avatar universal
I couldnt agree more
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Avatar universal
I am going through the same thing w/ my 5 yr old daughter. I have cried over it, worried, dreaded conversations. It's up and down. Some days I think things are fine, other days I feel like they aren't. My daughter is a beautiful child, so much so, that people constantly stop me to say how beautiful she is. She's very athletic and smart. Since about 3, I've noticed she likes "boy" things and prefers the male characters during play. Some of her mannerisms are boyish and she often stares at boys, especially if they have no shirt. Then she will comment why doesn't he have a shirt on? She plays w/ both boys and girls and we have mostly play dates with girls. If her girl friend has two dolls - a princess and a prince, and her friend wants the princess doll, she will happily take the prince doll. I feel like she aligns more with boys. Growing up, I would have fought over the princess doll. I played with He-Man growing up, but I never wanted to be He-Man. She does has a Sofia dress (that I bought her) and a few other princess dresses, and wears them on occasion, but I wonder if I didn't mention the dresses, would she put them on? She wears dresses rarely (holidays) and prefers shorts, pants or skirts (with shorts under). If I didn't do all her clothes shopping, I think she would go for boys clothes more. She loves super-hero's and says she wants to be one. A while ago, when she was 4, and I thought the "boy" thing was becoming an issue, I asked her, "if there was one thing you could change, what would it be?" She said "to be a boy." I acted calm but my face must have turned white and I was panicked on the inside. I felt like I had a heart attack. Since then I've asked simiar things and she says, "well sometimes I want to be a boy and sometimes a girl - like half and half." I told her you are a girl, you can't be half and half. I said it was OK to pretend, which is make-believe. Then she said she doesn't really want to be a boy, her mind just thinks about it in her dreams. I said when you're awake or asleep? She said awake. She said "I sometimes think about being a boy then my heart says no." I basically grilled her to try and get answers cause I was so confused. She didn't know why she thought it. I feel the more I ask, she changes her answers to only wanting to be a girl. Sometimes she says she wants to get married/have a baby when she's an adult. Other times she said she doesn't and afraid it will hurt. I don't know what to believe or what to think, and I don't know if she knows. She carries her babies around everywhere though. This has been going on for about 2 yrs. I thought if it was just a phase, it would have been long gone. I don't know what all this means. I have been struggling with it. My daughter can see I'm upset about it and I'm fearing not telling me the whole truth cause I cry or get upset when she talks about it. I'm so worried & concerned I talked to a Dr. about it, who said there's no way to know until puberty. If it persists, then it might be something or if it's a phase. Can anyone offer some other thoughts on this?? Anyone who had this issue and have grown children now and what happened to them?? It's consuming me. Thanks.
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1 Comments
Hi can I ask what is going on with your daughter now?
189897 tn?1441126518
COMMUNITY LEADER
   My comments from Jun 21, 2012 are still very valid in my mind.  I have seen nothing to make me change my mind.   Love her, enjoy her, support her.
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Avatar universal
My daughter is almost 3 (in 14 days) and has for the last 8-10 months been insisting that she's a boy, with a winky, named Max. She's absolutely adamant. However, quite happily wears "girls" clothes. Plays with stereotypical "girls" toys - babies etc - and plays with girls at preschool. I'm as open as can be got the possibility she may grow up to be gay or transgender. Either or neither would be fine with me. I am a lesbian myself, and my concern is if she is gay/trans, everyone else's opinions. I know more than most, not to listen to other peoples opinions, but being a gay woman myself, I'm going to be "to blame" for my little girls sexual orientation (should she turn out gay/trans) and that does my head in. We are who we are. We're born gay/straight/trans. It really is that simple. With some people it takes longer for them to come to the realisation, or accept it for themselves to then be able to "come out" to friends and family. If we lived in a more accepting society, people would realise it's the person inside that matters. Not their gender, sexual preference and so on.
My point is, reading through this thread, the best advice I can give, is let it be. What will be will be. Support your child the best you know how, and if they turn out to be anything other than "the norm" embrace them and help them accept themselves.
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1 Comments
Just wondering if your child is still adamant about being a boy as I am going through this as well.
Avatar universal
@MnNorton,

Did you want to be a boy growing up? When did you know you were a lesbian? I think knowing those things are helpful too. What kills parents is the not knowing.  Curious to know your story.
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Avatar universal
I received an email from Gally1 who originally started this post that the situation resolved itself and it did not persist . Now a happy typical 6 yr old. She still likes super heroes, and dresses are still not her favorite
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1 Comments
Thank you for the update, David.  I must say that I am not surprised at all.  And, I think my comments back in 2012 were - and still are - pretty accurate.
Avatar universal
thank you!!!   I am struggling with this issue with my 7 year old...  and your "message" made sense to me.
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189897 tn?1441126518
COMMUNITY LEADER
  You are welcome!  Peace.
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