If you are reading this, it likely means that your child (or some other young person important to you) just came out as transgender. This means that the gender your young person identifies with is not the one assigned to them at birth. It is important to note that people usually only come out to family and friends that they trust. If a trans person has come out to you, it likely means they have faith that you can help support them through this meaningful time.
Having a kid come out as trans can be a big moment for your family. Being a parent or support person for a trans child might require some changes in language and behaviors on your part, but you are not alone! There are many parents and support folks out there to help you through this process. Below is some important information on how to begin this part of your caregiving journey.
When a child comes out as trans, non-binary, genderqueer, gender expansive, or any other non-cisgender identity, they might change their name, gender pronouns, and other relevant language, behaviors, and gender expressions associated with their gender transition. While it might require an adjustment to the ways you are used to referring to and seeing your child, these shifts can be essential to showing support.
During this time, it is important to continue to affirm your love for your young person. One of the best ways to show your support and love is to take your education into your own hands. Our website has some educational resource pages about gender identity, transitioning, non-binary identity, and misgendering, which are great places to start. There are more educational resources at the bottom of this article, and we also have answers to FAQs about gender and young people.
Another important way to support a young trans person is to have an open and honest conversation with them about what they need. Not all trans people want to change their name or gender pronouns (either legally or socially), and your young person might want to wait before talking about their identity with more people. Let your young person lead the charge on what changes and conversations they want to initiate. Once you know that your child is ready to talk, here are some helpful questions to guide a conversation:
After some initial conversations with your young person, you might decide together that it would be a good idea for them to see a mental health or medical provider who specializes in having conversations about navigating gender transition, gender dysphoria, or discomfort, or hormones. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) has resources to help you find a provider who might be a good fit for you and your family.
Again, the best bet is to take things as slowly as your child wants. It’s likely that they’ve wanted to have some sort of conversation about their gender before they initially spoke to you about it, so be patient with them and let them lead the pace of things moving forward.
It is hugely important to support yourself as well, even though it is your child who is the one on the gender journey. It takes time and headspace to adjust to a new set of expectations regarding your child’s future, and some parents even report passing through something like the stages of grief as they let go of a set of expectations for the future and gradually form new (equally positive, but very different) expectations. There are many organizations and resources out there to support and educate parents and family of trans spectrum children. One of the most important first steps is to educate yourself, which can help both you and your child. Reading up on resources and practicing language shifts will take some of the burden off of your kid while teaching you some important new skills.
Here are some links to educational resources and support groups for parents and family to learn more about supporting their trans youth:
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