Parenting is difficult is difficult as it is and more so when you’re raising a child who is figuring out their identity.
Learning that your child is transgender can bring on a range of emotions — from confusion and grief to anger and fear — and will likely leave you with many questions. Will your child be safe? How will this change the dynamic of your family? Many parents arrive at this uncertain juncture knowing very little about what being transgender entails. But this is the time your child needs your love, support and acceptance the most.
Unfortunately, when trans kids receive near-constant reminders that their body and mind are not in sync, it becomes difficult for them to feel secure and comfortable with who they are and resulting in depression, anxiety, and even an increased risk of inflicting self-harm.
However, the good news is that they can accept it and live a healthy life if their parents will support them.
The first step is to support is to trust what your children say about their gender identity
Sometimes, parents respond to a coming out by saying the child is too young to know that their gender identity doesn’t match what was assigned at birth. Instead, these parents may try to convince their kids to conform to societal expectations of gender. But it’s a misconception that trans children are “too young” to fully understand their gender identity.
Giving them the acceptance they need and allowing them to socially transition can validate them and also reduce their risk of depression and even suicide.
Moreover, it’s important to realize that coming out from this thing is not over in one conversation but will likely involve a long series of talks over the coming months, and sometimes years, depending on development and growth.
Initially, the process of coming out begins with the feeling that their sexual orientation or gender identity does not match up with what their culture may be telling them it should be, or with the sex, they were assigned at birth. And to understand it more clearly, involve in a conversation with the queer community.
It is also extremely important to find a safe space to process fears about your child’s transition without projecting onto them. Parents might have negative feelings come up about their child’s transition, including confusion, mourning, or grief about the difficulties being trans can present in a world filled with transphobia.
In addition to support from a family member and close friends, parents may find it helpful to seek mental health services for the entire family to guide everyone through the journey.
Normalizing gender diversity in your home can have very positive results. While society may place expectations of binary gender onto your child, you can do your part to expose them to as much gender diversity as possible.
Transphobic bathroom policies at school, bullies, and teachers who misgender or use the wrong name are just a few of the hardships trans children may face once they come out. Parents need to be there in support of their child. It is very important for your child that you be an advocate for them outside the home environment.
It’s normal to be scared and have some confusion and loss. But what matters is at the end of the day, showing your unconditional love to your child and you are proud that they are so brave to come out to you and choose to live authentically will deepen the bonds between you and give them hope for a good future. The thoughts of the world are secondary but for now, you need to be your child’s fiercest advocate.
Don’t think about the problems you have to face with society in the future. Just listen to their voice and understand them deeply. Ultimately, the most important thing you can do for your child is to celebrate and love them for who they are.