The Show

Gender-Confused Kids

Dr. Phil tackles the sensitive topic of children who identify more with the opposite sex. What do you do if your son wants to wear dresses and play with dolls? Or if your daughter tells you she wants to be a boy?

The Experts Weigh In




Glenn Stanton is a research fellow with the Christian-based organization, Focus on the Family. He studies gender as a social phenomenon and is currently working on a book that deals with the importance of gender and parenting. He says people are not born this way and parents are responsible for guiding their children into the gender they were born with.

"What we find is that kids start out as kids," Glenn says. "They don't know. Most little boys have never been a man before. Most little girls have never been a woman before. They need help figuring these things out, and it's a job of the parent to come in, as you did, with such a loving heart and care for your child, but to guide them and direct them. The children are not in the driver's seat. They're not the ones who are at the age and the maturity to be able to make these kinds of decisions, so we need to help them move in the right direction."

"So you disagree with what Dr. Siegel is saying, because you talk about 'born as,' but what Dr. Siegel is saying is that it's defined by the brain as well as the external genitalia. How do you respond to that?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I'm actually agreeing with him in a way that there is a spectrum, but there are very few real Pats in the world, where we just don't know what they are," Glenn says, referring to the gender-neutral character named Pat on Saturday Night Live. "We always identify with either a boy or a girl, we can always determine OK, that's girl behavior or boy behavior. For my little boy wanting to go to art museums, for me wanting to go to art museums, is that feminine behavior? For you being interested in ballet, is that a feminine behavior? No. It could be done in a very masculine way."

"Are you saying these parents are wrong?" Dr. Phil asks.

Glenn speaks to Melissa. "From what I understand, you've taken an entry level psychology course in college, you gave your child a test on the Internet about what it means to be transgendered, and your child mimics, really, as I see it, some very adult concepts that she got from somewhere, and so I'm wondering who's leading and who's following?"

"Your idea of thinking " what ends up happening to these transgendered children, is they grow up depressed, they grow up suicidal, they get into drugs, into prostitution, and it's wrong," Melissa argues. "What he's stating is actual fact, it's scientific fact. Where are your facts?"

"There are plenty of facts. I mean, Dr. Kagan at Harvard, who has looked at this issue for a long time, 40 years longer than anybody else, he says what parents need to do with these gender-confused kids is be very directive with them, and be the parent," Glenn says. 

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