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GENDER IDENTITY ISSUES

Gender Identity Issues vary considerably. They may arise when a child exhibits cross-gender behaviour to some degree or other. Some may be boys who prefer to take the female role or vice versa; others may have a compulsion to play with toys mostly used by the other sex (for instance, a boy who predominantly plays with dolls or a girl who always plays with action men and 'army toys'). Some children may only feel comfortable when playing with peers of the other physical sex, or may cross-dress from time to time.

Some children may be unhappy about their own biological sex and either wish to belong to the other one, or feel that they actually do; some adolescents may experience a crisis over a problem of gender identity or sexual orientation, or both. These situations may lead to considerable concern and distress for all those involved.

At school, a child or teenager with a gender identity issue may come in for a great deal of bullying, name-calling, or even physical attacks. The child or teenager may have great difficulty in responding appropriately. However, the education of people about Gender Identity Issues in the school environment is very important in dealing with these problems.

Many adults with gender identity issues describe difficulties in childhood. Often they complain of having been very unhappy children and teenagers, and that their suffering had not been recognised early enough by parents and professionals. If this suffering can be recognised early in life, then with the right help, support and treatment, young people can be helped to tolerate living in these distressing conditions until, having found a solution to the identity conflict, they approach a happier and less traumatic adulthood.

MERMAIDS

Is a support group formed by a group of parents, all bringing a child to a Gender Identity Development Clinic, who were brought together as a result of their children's long-standing Gender Identity Issues. They have been able to support each other and their children through the difficulties and trauma that gender issues commonly bring to families. They have identified a need to form a support group to aid other families, children, and teenagers in similar situations.

Aims are simple:
We aim to support children and teenagers who are trying to cope with gender identity issues, whether they are 'out' to their family or not, in confidence.
In support of this one aim, we also intend to:
· Offer support to parents, families, carers and others.
· Raise awareness about gender issues amongst professionals (e.g. teachers, doctors, social services. etc.,) and the general public
· Campaign for the recognition of this issue and the increase in professional services
Mermaids has been set up to help to counteract that ignorance. We aim to provide information, not just to families, but also if possible to other professionals that our children might meet, to reduce the number of Dragons and the power they wield. Our aim is also to provide friendship and support to other families and individuals in similar situations to our own; to share our experiences in dealing with problems; to reduce the fear and alienation that can arise; to give families the strength to overcome the problems they may face; to give young people with gender problems the support they need, and to help them through the changes they may eventually go on to make in their lives, should those changes be found to be inevitable.

And Finally, why 'MERMAIDS'? Where did we get the name? One of our member's children once asked his mum: 'Would you still love me if I were a Mermaid?' - in other words, no matter how odd people think I am, will you still love me? (She does, in case you're wondering). When we brought this suggestion up in committee, Dr. Di Ceglie told us that very often children, and adults, who are male to female gender dysphoric, are fascinated by Mermaids. Certainly, one art therapist was prompted to write to us as she works with a very young boy who constantly draws Mermaids.

email: mermaids@freeuk.com
Address: BM Mermaids, London, WC1N 3XX
Helpline 07071 225895 (12 noon- 9pm when staffed)
Registered charity no. 1073991