The Lebanon Enterprise, which under Editor-Publisher Stevie Lowery has a recordof tackling sensitive subjects, broke new ground last week with a story about a 19-year-old transgender woman.
The story by reporter Emily LaForme is mainly about the experiences of Crystal Stine Hahn, 19, and started out by calling her “smart, honest, kind, bold… brave.”
But it touches on some health aspects, and is an example of how to report and write about a sensitive subject, as some health topics are. It gets to a key point very quickly:
Born in a male body, Crystal, formerly known as Christian, always knew there was something wrong, but it took years to put those feelings into words. And, it took nothing short of fate to place the right champion into her life to answer her cries for help – her stepmother, Lebanon native Jeri Stine Hahn.
“She came to me and said there was something wrong with her, and that she needed to go to the doctor,” said Jeri. “I asked her what was wrong, and she wouldn’t say right away.”
Crystal eventually professed that she didn’t feel right in her body.
“She finally told me there was something wrong ‘down there,’” Jeri said. “I asked her if she wanted the doctor to make it bigger.”
Crystal said no.
“I finally said, ‘Do you want the doctor to take it away?’ Jeri said. “And, she said ‘yes.’”
|Hahn at 11, then named Christian
Crystal Hahn began her transition, which is still continuing, in the fifth grade in Lawrenceburg, LaForme reports: “Most of the staff and students were accepting, she said, but there were still lingering tensions between the community and extended family, so they opted to move to Lexington for a fresh start.” At first she told no one but “a select few teachers” that she was transgender, but “keeping such a big secret was weighing heavily on her and her relationships with classmates, so she came out to her entire school in the ninth grade.”
Hahn explained to LaForme, “I can’t date a boy without disclosing that to them, and I was tired of lying to my friends and not being true to myself. My parents were worried it would make my life harder, but I felt like my life was harder by lying to myself and to everyone else.”
|Jeri, Crystal and stepfather Marty Hahn
The Enterprise shows it knows its audience with this paragraph: “Wrapping your head around the existence of transgender people is still not easy for everyone. However, thinking about the idea that some people are born with an extra finger, or no hands, or even conjoined with their twin, makes the idea that someone could have been born with the wrong sexual organ not seem so outlandish.”
And the weekly paper, published by Landmark Community Newspapers, lists eight “important terms to know, from glaad.org and transstudent.org,” and Jeri Hahn’s tips for parents of transgender Kentucky children. Here they are:
Transitioning: Altering one’s birth sex is not a one-step procedure. It is a complex process that occurs over a long period of time. Transition can include some or all of the following personal, medical and legal steps: Telling one’s family, friends, and co-workers; using a different name and new pronouns; dressing differently; changing one’s name and/or sex on legal documents; hormone therapy; and possibly (though not always) one or more types of surgery. The exact steps involved in transition vary from person to person. Avoid the phrase “sex change.”MTF: male to female
FTM: female to male
Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth
Top surgery: Chest surgery such as double mastectomy, breast augmentation, or periareolar (keyhole) surgeries.
Bottom surgery: Genital surgeries such as vaginoplasty, phalloplasty, or metoidioplasty.
Gender dysphoria: Anxiety and/or discomfort regarding one’s sex assigned at birth.
Body dysmorphia: A disorder characterized by persistent and intrusive preoccupations with an imagined or slight defect in one’s appearance.
Tips for parents
* Educate yourself by reading as much as you can about the transgender diagnosis.
* Allow your child to dress in a way that he/she is comfortable and not in a way that makes you comfortable.
* Also allow your child to play with opposite-gender toys if they enjoy them.
* Call Cincinnati Children’s Hospital‘s gender clinic to make an appointment with a gender specialist if your child is displaying insistent, consistent and persistent cross gender play or dress. This consistent behavior is usually not a “phase.”
* Health insurance plans are beginning to cover cross-gender surgeries.