Many parents may be unsure what to do or say when their child comes out as transgender. First and foremost, you must show your love and support for them and their identity. This article will explore how to talk to your trans child and your actions to support them and make them feel loved and accepted.
You can do many things to convey your acceptance, love, and support for your trans child. In addition, there are things you will want to avoid saying and doing. Here is a crash course on how to go about supporting your transgender child.
What to Do When your Child Come Out as Transgender
Do: Encourage their exploration.
Gender exploration is an essential part of child and youth development. When your child comes to you and discusses those feelings about their authentic identity, give them the freedom to explore everything you’re feeling. If your child wants to express their gender by wearing different clothes, cutting their hair, wanting to be called by a different name, or other gender-affirming behaviors, be sure to support and encourage these acts.
Do: Educate yourself.
The best way to support your child is by learning everything you can about topics regarding transgender identity. Many resources are available online for parents of transgender children, including our super helpful and informative articles at LGBTQ and ALL. Be sure to remember that gender identity is who your child actually is. Being transgender is not a mental disorder and has nothing to do with their sexual orientation. Your transgender teen or child can be of any sexual orientation no matter their gender identity.
Do: Create a safe environment for open dialogue.
Keeping communication open with your child and being understanding can go a long way during their transition. Transitioning can be a challenging road ahead, including in a social setting (like clothing, name, and pronouns) and medical transitioning (hormones and gender-affirming surgery). In essence, encouraging your transgender children to talk about their feelings honestly and being non-judgmental in return can help them feel safe and accepted.
Do: Give yourself time to adjust and know you will likely make mistakes.
When a child transitions, each family member has to change their perspective and adjust to the situation. By processing the information and adapting, you will be better equipped to say and do things that will affirm your child. However, there will be times where you might forget to use the correct pronouns or new names. As long as you correct yourself, apologize without making it about yourself, and practice using the proper names and pronouns, you will show your child that you are making an effort and support their true selves.
Seek advice from qualified mental health professionals.
Transitioning can be a complex journey for the trans child and your family. One helpful idea is to seek out an LGBTQ+-friendly mental health professional who can help you and your loved ones navigate the situation. They can assist your child in finding ways to be more affirmed in their gender. You can also find allies in the school system and other community settings so that your child knows where they can go for support if they run into a situation where they are bullied, discriminated against, or excluded.
What Not To Do When your Child Come Out as Transgender
Don’t: Reject your child.
When your child tells you that you are transgender, be sure to avoid any push back against your child or say or do anything that will make them think you are rejecting them. Be sure your child understands you’re on their side and that you will navigate everything together. Keep in mind that your child felt safe enough to share these feelings with you, so they see you as a supportive person and are secure in your relationship.
Don’t say: “Are you sure this isn’t a phase?”
It is essential to avoid asking this question because it questions your youth’s understanding of their identity. Even though gender identity can be fluid, many transgender people might shift in their identity throughout their lives. However, none of them would ever view those previous times where they identified a different way as a “phase.” Transgender people are aware of their own identities, and asking them this question just invalidates their feelings.
Don’t say: “Shouldn’t you try dating a person of X gender first?”
This question can be confusing for the child because it is mixing up gender identity and sexual orientation, two entirely different concepts. Unfortunately, many parents may not understand the difference between these two, which can create a situation where you misunderstand what their child is trying to tell you about their gender identity.
Don’t say: “Aren’t you too young to know?”
Many parents may think that some children are too young to know their gender identity. However, kids as young as 2 or 3 years of age have the capability of being aware of their own gender identity. This awareness can look like not wanting to wear certain clothes or liking a style that doesn’t align with their assigned sex at birth. So, for example, instead of assuming that your daughter is just going through a tomboy phase, it is essential to be open to the idea that your kid might be figuring out their gender identity. All in all, it is necessary to listen to what they are saying and to stay open-minded.
What Famous People Have Supported Their Transgender Children?
There have been many celebrities in the media that have shown their support publicly for their transgender people. These people are shining examples of what to do when supporting your trans child. Be sure to look into their stories for any ideas and advice on what to do when your child comes out as transgender.
These famous people include:
- Colin Mochrie
- Dwyane Wade & Gabrielle Union
- Cynthia Nixon
- Charlize Theron
- Ally Sheedy
- Annette Bening and Warren Beatty
It is essential to support your child and make them feel affirmed when they come out as transgender. For extra support, you can always find an LGBTQ+-friendly counselor who is trained in helping trans individuals and their families, caregivers, or loved ones.