‘Jamie’ is a ten year old boy. He thinks he should be a girl.
When I was ten I thought I came from another planet, that my real name was Dr Zuric, and that I had secretly been sent to Earth to investigate the local populace prior to invasion. Fortunately for humans, I had seen their potential and renounced my superpowers forever, instead standing vigilant against the threat posed by my former galactic gangster buddies.
My parents were amused. My Mum refused to believe the scale of the spaceship that delivered me to Earth. When I drew her a picture of it, she said she thought the windows should be bigger.
‘Mum,’ I said, ‘Those windows are four storeys high.’ She laughed and told me that was ridiculous.
I was deeeply insulted. Didn’t she realise the engineering skill that had gone into the construction of that ship? Or the sacrifices I had made for the sake of her species?
No she didn’t.
My parents treated my fantasies with respect. My dad even made me a control box so I could summon my warrior robots whenever I needed them (the one I had arrived with had been stolen – I was never able to find out by whom. I still have suspicions. Not everyone on Earth is good, you know).
My parents never suggested I needed psychiatric help – even when, in an earlier phase, I had demanded in tears to be allowed to take tea out to the faires in the grass behind the house next door because it hadn’t rained for two weeks and they were dying of thirst. Mum gave me some very small cups and some lukewarm water with sugar in it. I reported later that the fairies were very grateful, and had promised to watch out for any dangerous visitors, and to warn me if any shadowy figures arrived by putting coded messages in the constant birdsong, messages which only I would understand.
Several potential crises involving demonic visitors were avoided in this way.
It is barely worth mentioning that at different times I believed myself to be a re-incarnation of Manolete, the famous matador (never mind that I did not believe in re-incarnation); the eldest son of an Eastern European monarch who had smuggled me to safety as a baby and left me to be brought up by peasants who pretended to be my parents (he would be back to restore me to my rightful place as crown prince as soon as the kingdom had been made safe); or an entirely new kind of creature, a mutated sea lord (my mother was actually a mermaid, but we had agreed never to mention this potentially embarassing fact – even Dad did not know), who found it convenient for the moment to conceal my true powers and identity.
No psychiatric help for me. I was a child. Children play games and inhabit a world of magic and monsters. That is part of what childhood is.
I believed my stories, or pretended to, with the utmost seriousness. But I would have been appalled if they had.
Their common sense, their being adults, and consequently grounded in reality, created a safe place for me to be a child; growing into who I was was by pretending to be all sorts of things I was not.
Jamie’s parents appear not to be grounded in reality. There was no safe place for Jamie.
Jamie, like many little boys, went through a period of thinking he would really like to be a little girl.
Tragically for him, his parents seem to have believed him, and consequently, he has been stuck in that fantasy ever since. They got him psychiatric help.
The psychiatrists, people who are supposed to know a thing or two about human nature and the intricate tarantella of growing up, also believed him, proving they know nothing about anything.
His parents found him a school which was willing to accept him as a girl.
Then they went to court to get permission to begin a process that will turn him from a boy into a pretend woman. Family Court Judge Linda Dessau has agreed.
All he needed was someone to say no – to recognise that that he is a child, that children say things they don’t mean, live lives of earnest fantasy, and need adults to fix boundaries to those fantasies.
Jamie is ten. If the process goes ahead, he will not become a man. He will never have a family. And he will gain nothing in return. He will never be a woman, no matter what mutilations hormones and surgery wreak upon his body and mind.
Parents, psychiatrists, school and court – none have done their job. Jamie was just being a child. They could not find it in themselves to be adults.
Jamie has been betrayed.