It’s not child abuse – it’s being an accepting and loving parent.
In a Daily Mail article published this week, Ben and Sara Kaplan, of Berkeley, Calif., explained why they allowed their two young children to transition at the ages of eight and four.
The family is sharing its story in an attempt to “break the taboo” around trans children following studies that showed a rash of suicides among trans children who weren’t accepted by their families.
Their two children, James, who transitioned from female to male, and Olivia, who transitioned from male to female, say that before the transition, they felt like they had “a piece missing.”
But at the age of eight, James Kaplan, now 11, who was born a biological girl, realized he had to transition from female to male.
And just a few years later a then-four-year-old Olivia Kaplan, now seven, who was born a biological boy, realized she wanted to transition from male to female. Their names at birth have not been revealed.
The family are now sharing their story in the hopes of breaking the taboo around trans children, after statistics revealed an alarming number of suicide among young transgender people whose families are not supportive.
Their parents were surprised when then-8-year-old James (whose birth name wasn’t published, along with the birth name of his sibling) came to them and expressed the desire to transition. They were even more surprised when their then-four-year-old son expressed a similar desire a couple of years later.
But having just been through the transition process, they knew how to handle the transition process as parents. Though one thing they didn’t do: Question whether their extremely young child might simply been copying what their oldest child was doing.
Even their oldest child felt “competitive” when he learned that his younger sibling wanted to transition.
However, like with most siblings, he admits there was the usual competitiveness.
“I reacted to Olivia transitioning like most older siblings would – even though I’m trans,” James explained. “I was a little confused at first and got a little defensive because I thought it was my thing.”
“But after like a day of that, I saw that Olivia is a girl and she always will be.”
For Olivia, having her big brother understand was key: “He was my first supporter and it made me feel very confident that I would have many more.”
James, who is now 11, has begun taking hormone blockers to put off the onset of puberty and meunstration, which he said would be “distressing.” It will also prevent him from developing breasts. He’s also waiting to start taking testosterone, which would be the first non-reversible step in his transition. Though he’s already legally changed his name to James.
Their youngest child won’t begin similarly irreversible steps in her transition for a few more years, but when the time comes, she will likely start with a hormone blocker. The parents also insisted that they “parent” their kids “for those who think we just follow our children around doing nothing.”
The two parents insisted that they’re not ‘imposing an agenda’ on their children – they’re simply supporting their decisions to be who they truly are.
Ben and Sara want to educate those who accuse them of imposing an agenda on their kids.
“The reason that we chose to be public at this point is because having two transgender children is not that unique, but it’s very difficult to advocate for the second child without it looking like there’s a problem in the house,”Sara explained.
“It looks like there is an agenda,” she said. “Like the mother is sick, and that’s not the case here.”
Instead, the parents insisted that they were “on the right side of history.” They say their research has “proven” that they are doing the right thing.
“We are on the right side of history and we are not going to allow our kids to feel shame or fear based on other people – they deserve to feel loved and accepted.”
“We are going about this because we are listening to our children and because we are doing a lot of research, which has proven we are doing the right thing,” Ben added.
But if that’s true, how come so many readers are skeptical?