By Liana Jacob
THIS FIVE-YEAR-OLD with gender dysphoria who wears dresses CRIES EVERY NIGHT about her body and was left heart-broken when she was told she could NEVER HAVE CHILDREN, but her mother has made it her mission to raise her as a girl.
Five-year-old, Lanu-Skylar, who was born biologically male, first began showing an interest in wearing dresses when she was just two-and-a-half-years-old. Her mum, Talitha Kriebel (29) from Amsterdam, The Netherlands, didn’t think much of it and agreed to buy her first dress, which she would wear outside in their garden.
Just a year ago, Lanu-Skylar showed signs of gender dysphoria, a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress due to a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity.
She began to hate wearing clothes designed for boys out in public but fearing she would get bullied or teased by strangers, Talitha made her wear boy clothes publicly in the beginning.
It wasn’t until summer of 2018 that she allowed her to dress the way she wanted and with the help of her mum and her school teachers, Lanu-Skylar was free to dress feminine.
It wasn’t until she started primary school in November 2018, when Talitha would convince the teachers and school staff to use female pronouns when referring to Lanu-Skylar and she was officially welcomed as ‘one of the girls’.
A few months later, as Lanu-Skylar’s hair grew longer, Talitha felt it was easier for her to wear dresses than before when she was ‘the boy in the dress’.
“She showed a big interest in wearing dresses when she was two-and-a-half, however at that point I didn’t think anything of it,” Talitha said.
“I bought her first dress around that time, and she just loved wearing it. I used to find her in bed in the morning, with the dress pulled over her PJ’s.
“About a year ago she wasn’t happy wearing boy clothes out anymore and I made her wear them, because I was too afraid of her getting teased or bullied.
“Then over summer break I allowed her to dress however she wanted, and we soon had to expand her wardrobe.
“At the beginning of the new school year she went to school as a boy in a dress, which was very difficult for other kids to understand.
“One morning in November 2018, while I was dressing her, she looked at me and said, ‘mum, please tell the teacher that from now on I’m one of the girls’.
“I wasn’t that shocked, and both the school and I started using the right pronouns and she started using the girls’ bathroom etc.
“I wasn’t more concerned about her being bullied than I was when she was ‘the boy in the dress’. But of course, I felt and still feel a lot of concerns for her in the future.
“I’m not going to lie, she did lose a lot of friends during her transition, but that’s mostly due to parents, not understanding and not wanting to take the time and explain to their kids that Lanu is still Lanu.
“In school she has a hard time focussing, because there is a lot going on in her little life. Just a couple months ago the school theme was ‘your body’ and she came home crying every day, because she didn’t have the girl parts, the teacher was talking about and that she couldn’t have a baby because she wasn’t born with a female body.
“I always tell her that she may not be able to have a baby grow in her belly, but she will be able to be a mum and that there are lots of kids who would be the luckiest kids in the world to be adopted by her.
“I tell her that she has a healthy body, and that we should be happy with that, and that if she feels this way about her body later in life, mummy will do everything in her power to help her get the body she so desperately longs to have.”
Talitha says that the transition has been tough particularly when other people started to notice. While it has been difficult, she has tried her best to make the process as painless as possible for Lanu.
She mentions the various misconceptions of trans kids and says that due to the number of mental health problems that arise within the transgender community, she has made it her mission to fill Lanu’s world with love and acceptance.
In 2018, a US study found that about 30 per cent of trans female teens have attempted suicide at least once, as well as 28 per cent of adolescents with gender identity disorder.
Talitha wants her daughter to feel accepted to avoid her developing depression, anxiety or any other mental health illness in the future.
“I couldn’t hide it from friends too long, so when she started wearing girl clothes after school and in weekends my closest friends knew,” she said.
“One of them said she was fine picking her up to play in a dress, but she wouldn’t want to be seen with her in public, so she didn’t want to take her to the soft play area they used to go to – that was heart breaking.
“Others were saying that they didn’t allow their four-year-old to pick out their own clothes, so why should I?
“That made me upset, because they weren’t forcing their little one to wear clothes of a gender that didn’t match with the way that their kids felt inside.
“I also never understood why I shouldn’t allow her to be who she wants to be, just because society sees that as being different.
“What message are we sending kids, if we say, fit in this box, you can be yourself as long as you don’t stand out too much?
“When she still had extremely short hair, people would leave the playground when we arrived, and even adults would be rude and ask their kids, ‘do you think that’s a boy or a girl?’
“I always tried to stay friendly and asked them not to discuss this in front of my children. If they were respectful about it, they could ask me anything they wanted, but not in the presence of my children.
“It’s confusing enough for her as it is, feeling like she’s born in the wrong body I mean, she doesn’t need to hear ignorant opinions.
“She has always been very outgoing and confident. However, she would always get herself in trouble, and as a toddler she would throw huge tantrums over everything. Her behaviour has changed a lot for the better when she could finally be herself.
“People think that every trans person has a gender reassignment surgery, or hormones in order to be transgender. That’s not the case at all, some people who are transgender have dysphoria.
“My daughter right now is suffering a lot from her dysphoria, but there are people who don’t. I don’t think that medical treatments such as hormones is something that I should be too concerned about for now, she’s just turned five.
“She is going to a gender specialist, who is giving her psychological support, working with her body image, because right now she hates her body a lot and cries about it every day.
“The therapy is also to make her even stronger verbally so that she knows how to react when people, or kids are being mean.
“I get comments like, ‘you just really wanted a daughter, didn’t you?’ This one angers me the most. I wanted two healthy babies, and that’s exactly what I have.
“Most of my friends are very supportive, they are really amazing and open, and always stand up for her.
“People that don’t know her just assume she’s a girl, which is exactly what she wants. The first time someone she didn’t know called her a girl, she was very happy and asked me ‘how do they know I’m a girl mummy?’ It was very moving.
“People often say a child isn’t old enough to know their gender identity, but when you ask a child without gender dysphoria about their gender, nobody is surprised to hear the answer.
“I’m not a doctor, or a scientist, my only job as a parent, our only job as human beings, is to listen to a person when they say, ‘this is who I am’.
“By accepting them for who they are, and supporting them through this journey, we can prevent a lot of issues later on, such as depression, and high risks of suicide those are huge issue amongst transgender people.
“To the people who say, ‘what if it’s just a phase?’ It honestly shouldn’t matter if it is a phase or not, all that matters is that she is supported in how she feels now, and always.
“I will love her for her kind-hearted, emphatically, caring, funny soul, no matter what gender.”
For more information visit: https://www.instagram.com/talitha2win/