It's been a very odd week. I had two significant conversations about trans children, one with a parent, one with a psychiatrist.
I had friends to stay. They were very keen to come in July to enjoy the sea, the swimming, the sightseeing. The weather, the water, the sunlight and the air are scintillatingly perfect right now, in my view. But one, it turns out, can't tolerate heat and spent the week sitting on my sofa trying to get the air conditioning to create an environment that was 18°C or less, and the other one spent his time indulging his partner's whims. Why they come to the Med in summer when it's inevitably going to be more than 18°C, I do not know. So they did nothing for a week. Travelling abroad seems an expensive way of doing nothing to me, but each to their own. As the old Northern English expression goes, there's nowt so queer as folk. The trouble is, I found their lethargy exhausting!
Anyway, one is a psychiatrist who largely deals with children and has developed some strong views about how childhood problems are caused by irresponsible, lazy or stupid parents. And many parents seem to him to be stupid. He has no children himself. Neither do I. It strikes me that parenting in the modern age is immensely challenging, probably more so than in the past when life was more basic and communities more cohesive. Furthermore, there's no instruction manual. That the young generation right now seem to me to be more genuine, responsible and decent than mine was, strikes me as being a testament to someone's efforts to educate, and I'd put parents at the forefront of that achievement. Well done, mums and dads, you seem to have managed well.
His views, based on his clinical work and training, that no-one can know they are trans until they are about 14, is not correct and I had a long conversation with him about this, providing him with evidence from fields other than psychology and from my own experience.
I will write that conversation up more fully in another post because it merits a closer look and because something else happened this week, and that was a distraught phone call from a very close friend of mine whose teenage child has suddenly and unexpectedly come out as a transman and has demanded everyone use a new male name, wants hormones, breast binding and so forth. It seems there may be a lot of inappropriate peer pressure involved. I am not best qualified to comment on female-to-male transition, on teenagers, on parental rights and responsibilities, but I'm touched she came to me. In the UK my friend and her child can get support from charities like Mermaids, specialising in trans youth and their families, and from her local trans group, so I put her in touch with both (and thank you again to those who responded to my initial queries). She seems glad that there is support out there. My friend and her saintly husband are two of the best people in the world and her child, who has already had support from the school authorities, will, I think, have the best circumstances in which to arrive at their reality on this matter.
I'm getting back to my routine and to enjoying the climate that seems so perfect to me at this time of year - it's why I moved to the riviera, after all. Yes, there is a drought and now we have restrictions on water use. Despite my best care, some of my potplants are struggling. But the sun makes me feel alive, the limpid air is a delight to breathe, the sun- and moonlight sparkling on the sea are mesmerising... the whole season is joyous to me. And it's all free.