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San Diego Transgender Teen Shares Struggle With Gender Identity

Photo credit: Courtesy photo

Sam Moehlig, 14, is seen holding his dog outside their Rancho Bernardo residence in this undated photo.

San Diego Transgender Teen Shares Struggle With Gender Identity


Sam Moehlig, San Diego teen

Kathie Moehlig, Sam's mom

Darlene Tando, gender therapist


Sam Moehlig’s 11th birthday was unlike any he had before.

It was the first time he was addressed as a boy.

Sam, who was born Samantha, had battled depression and anxiety over gender identity struggles.

The Rancho Bernardo teen is now 14. He was the first patient to go through Rady Children’s Gender Management Clinic, and after years of taking hormone blockers, the Moehlig family feels it is time for Sam to take the next step in his gender transition.

“I always knew it from a young age — it was ‘I’m a boy’ but I never had the words to say it,” Sam told KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday. “It was just confusing.”

It was confusing for his parents too.

Kathie Moehlig, Sam's mom, said her son became depressed when he began going through puberty.

RELATED: Clinic Helps San Diego Transgender Youth

“He became extremely depressed and anxious,” said Kathie Moehling who is starting a nonprofit to help other families. “It took us a couple of years to figure out what was going on.”

But when Sam was introduced to the process of changing his gender — he was able to be himself.

“I woke up one morning and I was happy,” Sam said. “I could be proud of who I am.”

The age as to when to change one’s gender is ultimately dependent on each person, said Maya Marinkovich, an endocrinologist from Rady Children's Gender Management Clinic.

“Hopefully with more research and in future years, we’ll have better answers what is the ideal time,” Marinkovich told KPBS Midday Edition last week. “It’s certainly not the same for every patient. We have to understand that families are not at the same level of acceptance, and sometimes, often times, the child is the one pushing and parents are holding because they’re just not ready."

On Wednesday, Midday Edition will interview Vicki Estrada, a woman who came out about her transgender journey 10 years ago in an interview with Tom Fudge on "These Days.”

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