So, your child just came out to you as transgender.
If you’re reading this piece, chances are that you’re heading in the right direction. One of the most important things you can do is search for information from other transgender people and healthcare professionals that work directly with transgender people.
Unfortunately, trans youth face unique challenges compared to their cisgender peers. With higher rates of suicide and recent legislation targeting trans youth, your kid is up against a lot. If they're coming out to you, most likely they need support while navigating this experience.
In this post, we will go over immediate steps you can take to show your child that you're in their corner.
If your child has come out to you, it means that they trust you a lot, which is cause for celebration! One of the easiest ways to support them is by reciprocating that trust.
Don’t ask questions like “are you sure?” or “but how do you know?” While these questions undoubtedly come from a place of concern, these questions can suggest you don't trust their perception of their own gender.
They’ve wrestled with the timing, tried to figure out how you’d react, what it would mean for them, and now they are sharing something very vulnerable.
Ask what they need.
There’s no one set of steps or a guidebook for transgender individuals to follow.
Even if you and your child know other trans people, your child’s journey may not look anything like that person's.
Asking them what they need from you not only lets them know that you support them, it also is the simplest way for you to get an answer.
Some trans people will elect to change their name or go by different pronouns. This is one of the easiest ways to show support because you can start right away without knowing anything else. Studies show that family support has a direct positive impact on transgender people's quality of life.
Here are some easy questions that will help both of you find common ground:
- Do you want to go by a different name or use different pronouns?
- Do you need any gender-affirming clothing?
- Are there any other steps you may want to take in your transition?
- Is this something you would like to keep between us for now or would you like support in coming out at school/with the rest of the family?
- Is there anything else I can do to support you?
Not all trans people transition the same way(or at all). Some trans people, youth included, know right away what they want to do while others may spend years considering what steps they want to take.
While the prospect of transitioning can be intimidating for any parent, they will know when they are ready to speak to a medical professional and there are many different types of treatment available to ensure they are safe and healthy.
Advocate for them.
You are your child’s best advocate. If they decide they want to come out at school or to family, be vocally and actively supportive. Be in contact with teachers and extended family, letting them know your child’s name and pronouns and expectations you have about how they are treated.
There are many misconceptions about trans youth - sometimes those you're speaking with may bring those points up. Take a look at our post here on myths about trans youth help to dispel inaccurate information.
If you get pushback, don’t be afraid to stand firm in your support of your child. Transgender individuals who have their family’s support and acceptance have far lower rates of suicide, depression, and other mental health issues.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
This is a major change for you as well as your child.
You aren’t alone; many guardians have felt the same way you’re feeling right now.
You can do a quick search of trans support groups near you to see if there are organizations offering services. You can also check to see if there are any LGBTQ+ clubs or programs in your district.
If not, the Internet can be a great place to connect with others who have gone through similar experiences.
Trans Family Support Services is a great organization run by a parent of a trans child that offers support groups and community events. They also offer a mentorship program called Kyler's Konnections where trans youth can work with mentors who can help them navigate the transition process.
Gender Spectrum is an organization that hosts online support groups and has links to other resources.
If this is a little overwhelming at first, that's okay. The most important part is letting your child know that you will do your best to help them and show them you care no matter how they identify.
Henry Aceves, writer & theatre artist
As we develop things here at Team Pride Worldwide, we will expand our list of available online resources. If you have a question or concern, please feel free to email us at email@example.com.