My Child Is Transgender, How Can I Support Them? | Tips And Advice For Parents
When your child comes out as transgender, the first thing you can and should do is to express your love, show your support, and accept them as they are.
While parenting a teen is never an easy task, it can be a little challenging when it comes to raising a transgender teen. In times, where being transgender is met with prejudice and discrimination, your support to your trans child can mean a lot.
More often than not, transgender teens are subjected to bullying and bias in school as well as socially. When they are not supported and accepted, they might struggle with depression, anxiety, self-harm, and even an increased risk of suicide.
With the right support, care, and love, a transgender child can lead a healthy and happy life. In this blog, you’ll read what it means to be transgender and how you, as parents/guardians/siblings can support them when they come out or if they haven’t come out yet.
What Does It Mean To Be Transgender?
Before we explore more on what it means to be trans, let’s understand the basics i.e., sex and gender. Sex is the biological attribute assigned to a person at birth based on their genitalia. Gender is a person’s sense of identity such as woman, man, transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, etc.
People who identify as transgender often describe feeling dissatisfied with the sex assigned to them. Identifying oneself as trans can be scary as a person feels disconnected from their sex and gender identity. Some people might even feel disgusted by their own bodies. These feelings can make it difficult for someone to navigate their life.
Such feelings can also lead a person to develop gender dysphoria or feeling extreme distress and discomfort over their mismatched sex and gender identity. Not all transgender, however, experience gender dysphoria.
It is imperative to understand that being transgender is not an illness but many transgender people do experience mental, emotional, and physical health problems, often because of the discrimination and bigotry, they are faced with in general.
Transgender children – teens and young adults – experience rejection and abuse at home, at school, and even in their community.
My Child Is Transgender, Now What?
If your child comes out as transgender, the most important thing you can do is provide emotional support. At that moment, your child is fearing rejection and shame but the best thing to do then is to assure your kid that your love for them is the same as before and that they are accepted as they are.
Please remember that LGBTQ children fear rejection, negative comments, and emotional abuse from family and friends more than others. This fear can make coming out a little difficult. In such cases, you need to show them and reassure them that, with you, they are in a safe space and will be validated.
If your child has come out as trans, here are some ways you can show your support to them:
1. Listen To Them
As I’ve said, when your child comes out as trans, the first thing you should do is show your support. Listening to them is one of the best ways to show your support. Instead of saying “It’s a phase.”, “Are you sure?”, or something along those lines, try listening to them and understanding their point of view. Do not push your child to listen to you rather listen to their experience.
2. Encourage Them To Explore
When your child comes out saying that their sex and gender identity are mismatched, what you can do is help them explore their gender. If your son comes out saying they feel like a woman inside, give them a safe place to explore their identity. For example, let them put on makeup, switch their wardrobe, try out a different name, etc. until they feel comfortable. Exploring their gender can help them understand themselves better before they consider transitioning.
3. Educate Yourself
The next step here is to educate yourself about gender identity, expression, and rights. As parents, it is understandable that you might be worried about your child’s legal protection and rights. There are many resources such as APA (American Psychological Association), GLAAD, and other online websites that can help you understand more about your child’s transition.
4. Create A Safe Space
One of the most important things as a parent you can do is to communicate openly and honestly with your transgender teen. Transitioning – social and medical – can be a difficult journey for the teen as well as their family. In such cases, as parents, you need to provide a safe space for your trans teen to discuss their feelings about their transition.
Encourage and support your teen to share their experiences with you. This step might go a long way in helping them feel protected, accepted, and loved.
5. Give Yourself Time To Adjust
Your child isn’t the only one going through a transition. Their family also needs to shift their thinking and understand the trans teen. Parents, specifically, might go through a phase where they might feel disappointed. In that case, give yourself some time to adjust and process.
Spend time with your child and learn their correct pronouns. Let them know that there might come a time when you might forget to use the correct pronouns or their new name but despite that, you are making an effort to accept their change and will get there, eventually.
If Your Child Hasn’t Come Out…
If you suspect your child of being transgender and want to express your love and support, you can try creating a safe, non-judgmental space for your child. Let them know without being direct that it is okay to explore genders and accept the one they feel the most comfortable with.
Do not force or pressure your child to come out, though. Coming out should be done at the pace your child is comfortable with.
The most important thing to remember here is to give your child some space to explore different genders instead of trying to label them.
Finding Support For Transgender Teens, Young Adults, & Their Families
These resources can help you and your trans child get the right support you need:
- Mermaids – support provided to trans teens up to the age of 19
- Mindline Trans+ – emotional support helpline for transgenders, non-binary, and genderfluid
- Gendered Intelligence – support provided to transgenders aged 8-25
- Switchboard – offers support to members of the LGBTQ community
- Stonewall – provides support to young LGBTQ members
- GLAAD – support provided to LGBTQ teens, adults, and youths
- The Trevor Project – provides support to LGBTQ teens and adults
I hope the above information helped you understand how you can support a transgender child. Parents’ support of a transgender child can mean a lot. If you require additional information on supporting a transgender child, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We support all sexualities and gender identities.
You are valid and you are loved!