Parents stress tolerance after child's gender identity change - KCTV5

Parents stress tolerance after child's gender identity change

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RAYTOWN, MO (KCTV) -

A child previously known as a boy should now be known as girl, according to a letter sent home to some Raytown School District parents.

Parents and guardians at Robinson Elementary School, located at East 67th Street and Woodson Road, received the note Friday explaining the situation.

In it, they explain that a student previously used a traditional boy's name and will now be referred to by a girl's name.

A change like that in a child that young is more common than people might think.

One family knows first-hand about dealing with a young child's gender identity change.

Tom and Debi, who asked to have their last name withheld, said their daughter A.J. was assigned a male gender at birth, but early on she knew differently.

"She was not even 4 years old when she started showing signs of wanting to wear princess dresses," Debi said.

It went deeper than that for A.J.

"Right before she turned 4 years old she said, 'you know I'm a girl inside, right," Debi said.

It was startling to hear for the two Kansas City parents, who thought they had two rough and tumbling boys. Their pediatrician suggested they see a specialist for A.J. because this was well beyond imaginary play.

"You can't make anybody be someone they're not," Tom said.

With help from Dr. Caroline Gibbs, at the Transgender Institute in Kansas City, the parents learned about gender identity.

"It is simply a medical condition hard-wired at birth," Gibbs said.

The parents learned it wasn't something they did to their child.

"Our child pulled us along kicking and screaming. This was not our decision. This was not about who we are or what we wanted," Debi said.

"It is impossible to teach a child how to be a transgender. It's is not learned," Gibbs said.

The parents decided to allow A.J. to be who she wanted to be. A healthy playful little girl.

"A lot of these kids, 14, 15, 16 years old, are lost, trying to commit suicide because they felt they had nowhere to turn. We wanted to let her be who she was rather than have that," Tom said.

Tom and Debi home school their children, but hearing that the Raytown elementary school has made an effort to not exclude a transgender child leaves them hopeful.

Superintendent Dr. Allan Markley was not available to speak on the situation Tuesday and the Raytown School District had no statement.

Below is a full copy of the letter sent out to parents:

"May 2, 2014

"Dear Robinson Parent or Guardian,

"In the interest of creating a positive and safe learning environment at Robinson, I want to share information with you about a schoolmate of your child's. This information is being shared with parent permission.

"A birth-assigned gender male student who has been known as (A) at Robinson has returned to school as a female with the new, preferred name of (J). School personnel have been instructed to refer to (J) by her new name, and (J's) teacher will introduce her to other students by her new name.

"Teachers will encourage students to continue to be respectful of all students in their classes and to treat others as they would like to be treated; according them the same respect they wish for themselves.

"If you have questions or would like to talk more with me, please call school at 816.268.7260.

"Sincerely,

       "Mrs. Elizabeth Arbisi, Principal"

Editor's note: KCTV5 has edited out the child's name from the letter and used initial instead.

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