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Adolescent: At My Wit's End

(47 Posts)
NameChange2016 Wed 26-Oct-16 12:51:17

I'm not sure if this is in the right place, so please can this be moved if it isn't?

I would also like to say straight away I have a very dear friend who is transgender, with whom I love spending time. I support her completely. I do not have a problem with transgender people. I also used to work with a woman whose daughter was transgender and I met her when she was 11. She had M to F surgery as soon as she was 16. She was a lovely child and expressed clearly that she was trapped in a male body but she was 100% female. I work for a mental health service and have worked with a number of transgender people.

We are quite a close knit family and we have always been socially liberal and to the left politically. We are live and let live. My younger sister got pregnant quite young and she wasn't with the father but we were supportive emotionally, financially and with childcare.

The wider family part own her house (she had about half of the money from our late father); plus myself, my mother and my stepfather have all contributed money).

Her child is now 19, I am going to call the child Alex. Alex was a v highly strung child: everything had to exactly be as Alex wanted or they had the screaming abdabs, especially around food. Alex at 7 refused ever single item from an all you can eat buffet, except for eating TWO strands of spaghetti. Alex at 8 had a hysterical fit because the gravy was touching the potatoes. Alex at 11 at a meal for my birthday in a restaurant had a screaming hysterical fit because they were offered caramel ice cream but wanted chocolate. Alex ran away from school frequently. Threatened to kill themselves, etc, etc. Child services were involved for a while but my daughter's new partner said he could deal with it. Nothing happened.

As Alex grew older they seemed to have a knack of working out what upset people and used that to wind them up. Alex worked out that my mother doesn't like being late to places and is always late when she is around, even though apparently Alex has no problem with time keeping normally.

My stepfather (who Alex calls grandfather) is also disabled after several strokes, as was my late father as he had a stroke too. I have had poor mental health/anxiety and Alex told me that 'all disabled people should be euthanised'.

I am also quite plump (not enormous, just a couple of stone) but larger than the rest of the family - Alex told me that Alex didn't love me as much as the rest of the family because I am fat. Alex at 16 told a family friend who teaches Law and Human Rights that Hitler had the right idea. Etc etc.

Alex was born female and always seemed to enjoy being a little girl: loved pink, dressing up as princess, playing with a dollshouse, playing 'house', with dolls, etc. Alex had always been bright but didn't get on at school, was bullied a lot, didn't put in any work, scraped a few GCSEs, started college but dropped out. Alex then spent the next 3 years living in my sister's house: Alex is a NEET, not leaving the house, no job, not signing on, not in education or training. Not contributing any money. Alex also orders everyone else around and expects everyone to say 'how high' when Alex says jump. Alex has hit my sister. My sister's partner seems to be besotted with Alex and Alex treats them like a slave. Alex only washes once a week, if that, and refuses to use towels or tampons during a period and bleeds all over the dark sheets and underwear.

I have felt for a while that Alex has quite serious mental health problems and going on my mental health training I would say Alex has Borderline Personality Disorder or maybe sociopathic tendancies. Alex refuses to see the doctor or admit to having any kind of mental health issues. Alex is now 19 and cannot be forced to see the doctor!

Alex has decided they want to be male. They won't have anything to do with anything they feel is feminine and screams and shouts. (eg I gave Alex a pack of origami paper as they love origami, but I didn't realise it was a mixed colour pack and there was ONE pink sheet in the pack so Alex refused the whole thing and torn them up)

From what I understand: people who are transgender are born that way. Like the people I worked with and child of my colleague, they are born feeling trapped in the wrong body.

Alex never expressed anything until very recently about wanting to be male. Alex has been referred to the Gender ID clinic and seems to believe that as soon as they get to the appointment they will immediately be take in for surgery.

Alex is also 'engaged' to someone they have only ever met online (this woman lives in another continent) It really doesn't bother us if Alex is a lesbian, but couldn't they date someone they have actually met in real life? Or would the lack of washing, hysterical fits and rude behaviour put a real person off?

I cannot help but think that Alex has worked out that my mother (who is in her 70s) is not very keen on the idea of gender-fluidity and is doing all of this to upset her grandmother. My mother is quite ill with cancer and is terminally ill.

We are at our wit's end with caring for my very ill mother and dealing with an adolescent who is clearly unbalanced.

Please can someone reassure me that this is all going to be okay?

LullyDully Wed 26-Oct-16 16:48:13

Totally beyond my skills........sorry. Good luck.

merlotgran Wed 26-Oct-16 16:51:33

It must be an age thing but I'm afraid the OP is totally beyond my attention span.


trueblue22 Wed 26-Oct-16 16:52:42

Sounds like lack of boundaries from an early age syndrome.

hildajenniJ Wed 26-Oct-16 16:58:17

I do wonder, from your long and informative post, that this young person may be on the autism spectrum. Apparently about a quarter of people diagnosed with Asperger syndrome have gender issues. I picked up on autism from your description of Alex's eating problems as a child, and his manipulative behaviour now. Has this ever been explored. It might explain quite a bit about his behaviour.

BlueBelle Wed 26-Oct-16 17:09:40

My first thought Hilda was autism Alex sounds as if he is a very misunderstood child and why do you keep referring to him as they its a very strange way of talking

I would say Alex needs professional help as soon as possible

rosesarered Wed 26-Oct-16 17:12:43

It's autism for sure.All typical autistic traits.

rosesarered Wed 26-Oct-16 17:14:10

What you can do about it at this stage is another matter, but reading up on it may help all of you including Alex.

Grannynise Wed 26-Oct-16 17:43:19

I also thought about autism. Surely there will be a thorough mental health assessment prior to any possible treatment for the requested gender treatment?

Luckygirl Wed 26-Oct-16 17:56:17

The problem here is that this person is 19 and an adult. Clearly a mental health assessment is needed, but no-one can make him/her do it, just encourage.

It all sounds a challenge.

vampirequeen Wed 26-Oct-16 18:21:24

When Alex goes to his appointment at the transgender clinic he is in for a nasty shock. There will be many psychological tests and prior to surgery he has to live as a man for at least two years before he can start on hormones (at least that's what someone I knew had to do). If they think there is the slightest doubt about him being true transgender then he won't get the operation.

Like others have said, I think he sounds as if he's on the autistic spectrum. They will pick this up at the transgender clinic.

live7 Wed 26-Oct-16 18:27:58

As I read your post, it sounded like autistic traits. I have a daughter (17) with some similar sorts of issues - she is high functioning/mildly autistic with depression and very challenging behaviour - refused school from year 10, defies anyone telling her to do anything (teachers, parents), rarely washes (so smells), won't have sheets on the bed, no friends, been arrested, promiscuous. She loves to shock people and is very inappropriate in what she shares with thers. Someone told me about ODD (oppositional defiance disorder) and when I read it, it seemed to apply to her. However, when I spoke to her psychiatrist at CAMHS she said that it's only recognised in USA and not here.
We find every day tough and have been told that she will probably be able to have a place in supported lodgings when she is 18. We find talking to her when she wants to talk is best, putting little demands on her, praising if she is helpful and not engaging in arguments as it escalates so quickly. If she doesn't get her own way she destroys anything she can get her hands on. Money is the motivator for her - she does not get any pocket money/money for clothes etc. if she does not do what we ask - tidy her things away, attend an appointment.
Please don't listen to people who say it's a parenting issue, some people's brains are wired differently and the things that most of us cope with fairly easily can be overwhelming and crippling for others. You are obviously a very supportive wider family and this will be so important as you can share the burden of this. It has helped us to come to accept that our daughter is different from her siblings and peers and to acknowledge that there is only so much we can do to help. I really hope things improve for you all.

phoenix Wed 26-Oct-16 18:29:15

BlueBelle the poster is deliberately not assigning a gender to Alex because of the "issues", hence "they". Also see the reference to being born female and periods.

Anyway, apart from that, professional help is required, and although if the person is 19 years of age, you cannot force them to go to the doctor, one can go to the doctor and explain the problem and how it is affecting the life of the others in the family.

The post about referral :*Alex never expressed anything until very recently about wanting to be male. Alex has been referred to the Gender ID clinic and seems to believe that as soon as they get to the appointment they will immediately be take in for surgery.* would indicate that Alex hasn't done their research, as there are incredibly strict criteria to be met before surgery is even an option. Hormone treatment, spending time living as the other gender etc.

One part of me thinks, yes, probably on the spectrum, the other thinks learned behaviour, Alex wants, Alex screams/throws a tantrum, Alex gets.

Be interesting to see how the first appointment with the Gender I.D clinic goes!

GillT57 Wed 26-Oct-16 19:28:26

Like others have said, this behaviour sounds like the teenager is on the autistic spectrum. You cannot, as you say, force him/her to go to the GP but the appointment at the gender re-assignment clinic may hopefully bring these mental health issues to the fore. You sound like a very understanding and supportive family and I hope you all get the help you need, not just Alex. From what you have said, Alex may be using this as yet another weapon to harm the family, but as you are not acting shocked it has back fired. From my limited knowledge of this, a desire for gender re-assignment is not a reason or an excuse for atrocious behaviour, and bleeding all over the house when menstruating is disgusting. Alex is in need of help, but is intelligent enough and articulate enough to know what is right and what is wrong. I wish she/he would realise how lucky they are to be within such a supportive family

rosesarered Wed 26-Oct-16 20:25:17

Well said Live7 you have got it exactly right.Our DGS is the same and he has high functioning autism and ODD.A real challenge!!

notanan Wed 26-Oct-16 21:43:31

I don't think that all transgender people are born that way, some people are gender fluid or gender queer etc

although that's just a small point I can't help with the whole picture it sounds very hard all round x

Deedaa Wed 26-Oct-16 21:57:09

The food issues definitely sound like autism. GS1 has a very limited diet and different items MUST NOT touch on his plate. Faced with a 7 course Easter lunch in Italy he ate some plain spaghetti. When we had a very nice lunch (at Chessington - courtesy of Gransnet!)we commented on how nice it was not to be faced with dried up cheese sandwiches and his reply was "I could have eaten dried up cheese sandwiches!)He has also attempted running away from school several times.
As everyone else has said the Gender ID clinic will be inetresting.

Christinefrance Thu 27-Oct-16 08:31:28

This must be so hard to deal with namechange, it's always a problem with young adults as they need so much support but Adult services are often not equipped for this.
Alex needs professional help clearly but in the meantime you need to prioritise your own needs. Your mother needs your help as does your husband and you say your own health is not good so maybe it's time to distance yourself a little from Alex's problems. You can't be all things to all people without it impacting on your own well being. Wish I could be more help to you.
Trueblue your comment was a harsh.

NameChange2016 Thu 27-Oct-16 10:12:38

Thank you very much for all your helpful words and advice. I must admit I don't think anyone has ever suggested Autistic spectrum. The mental health trust I work for doesn't support any over 18s with Autism so I haven't encountered anyone with it. I will have to do some serious reading!

In the mean time my sister has finally put her foot down and found a room in a shared house for Alex and they have moved out! I'm not sure how long my sister will pay the rent for but it's definitely time limited so Alex will be forced to either claim benefits, go to the GP to get signed off or get a job!

Thank you so much for all your help and support. Feeling the GN love <3

Bobbysgirl19 Thu 27-Oct-16 10:42:43

Sorry to hear your problems. How is your sister (Alex's Mum) handling the situation with her 19 year old, who is now an adult. It must be so difficult if Alex is refusing to see a doctor, but my understanding is that she would have to undergo extensive counselling etc before she would be accepted for a sex change, or gender reassignment I have heard it called

In answer to Please can someone reassure me that this is all going to be okay?
Unfortunately I can't do that but I do think Christinefrance has given you good advice above.
Best wishes

Bobbysgirl19 Thu 27-Oct-16 10:45:13

Sorry problems getting my post through so yours wasn't there when I posted.

TriciaF Thu 27-Oct-16 11:01:01

What a complicated problem, NameChange! No wonder you don't know where to start.
Your grandchild sounds similar to the daughter of some friends of ours - she was very "strange", from being a young child, and in her late teens decided to change gender. The last time we saw her she had started hormone treatment and had a small beard, voice starting to break etc. Very confusing, I still call her by her girl's name, which upsets her Dad, with whom she lived at the time. I think she has her own flat now.
Sadly the rest of her family and the few friends she had have broken ties with her, but she gets a lot of support from the small transgender community in the town where she lives.
Basically, it's a new life starting, with few guidelines.

TriciaF Thu 27-Oct-16 14:41:36

This is for one part of the country :
I think there's one link for advice to families.

LumpySpacedPrincess Thu 27-Oct-16 16:08:57

Sex is a physical reality, gender is a social construct. The trouble with the transgender movement is that it confuses the two, girls must like pink and princesses and boys must like blue and soldiers, this is all harmful rubbish which society enforces.

Unfortunately now if a girl like Alex likes things that society has deemed suitable for boys she has to change her sex. We should be getting rid of gender, not reinforcing it. Boys and men should be able to wear dresses if they like without having to become a woman

There is no such thing as girl brain or boy brain, just brains.

BlueBelle Thu 27-Oct-16 19:06:30

Well personally I think you are quite wrong Lumpy and I think men and women think very differently Quite agree that they should be free to make their own minds up without being pushed one direction or another