Some young people who eventually come out as LGBT show gender identity issues at an early age – a girl being a bit of a ‘tomboy’ or a boy who likes to dress up as a girl. Most parents reported no gender identity issues with their young children. Rosie is the only parent who reports significant gender identity issues in her two sons. Both were more likely to have friends who were girls. (Rosie’s younger son only ever had one male friend as a child, and he has now come out as well). Both Rosie’s sons had what might be considered unusual interests for boys. She says: ‘Their difference was apparent in their play, the choices they made – even in the books they read and the pictures they drew. One loved ballet and the other, to this day, has an abiding interest in clothes and fashion.’
Maya says: ‘I had my suspicions when he was very young and one of his primary school teachers made reference to her own son being gay – hinting to me that my son was. It wasn’t until he was 14 years old that he came to me and told me. He has only ever had female friends from an early age – finding the company of other boys too boisterous and rough. I worried that he wasn’t boisterous enough and would find himself an easy target for bullies’.
Mercedes: ‘I can say with the benefit of hindsight that there were some early indicators. He was happy to play with girls at primary school, when many boys of that age shied away from this. He did not mind dressing up as a girl for a school play. When he was young (prepubescent) he copied girls; singing, dancing –putting on high heels – on a couple of occasions. He was not into the stereotypically male sports like football and cricket’.
Other parents reported less significant differences: ‘He was never interested in sports. He said he wasn’t a ‘boyish’ boy. He loved drama, ballet, had a lot of friends who were girls – but not exclusively’ (Eliza and Tom).