Parents: The Road to Affirmation for your Transgender Child

As a parent, I understand the levels of hesitation, fear and grief other parents might have when they find out their child is transgender. I have heard, that there is an initial period of shock and even the most supportive parent might be grieving the loss of their sex assigned at birth child.

Parents may immediately jump to the level of safety their child may have while walking down the streets.  Parents may feel what their child is experiencing is just a phase or they will grow out of it.  Parents may feel it’s just happening a lot at school and that’s why their children are telling them they are transgender.

What your child wants from you

When a child hears all of this from their parents, especially if their parents have told them they are supportive, it can wreck them.  I see children who want nothing more than for their parent to tell them, they might not understand, but they are trying and want to learn.  Children need for their parents to use their correct gender and pronouns, which means often changing how you refer to your child.  Instead of daughter, they may want to be called person, or son.  Instead of he, they might want to be called they or her.

I have also heard from children that they know mistakes are bound to happen.  But, when a mistake becomes an insult and mean is when a parent laughs about it, or never makes an effort to change.  That upsets children, no matter how old they are.  I believe that children want nothing more at the root than to be loved and accepted by their parents.  For their parents to tell them “I am proud of you for you, no matter your gender”.

How will being affirming help my child?

How will affirming your child’s gender affect your child?  Your child will have the avenue to explore who they are as a person freely.  Your child will have a level of protection and gain a sense of resilience from the envelope of love and understanding they are placed in when their parents affirm their gender.  You may be the one to get those first phone calls if your child changes their name or decides to take hormones.

Where do I, as a parent get support?

As a parent, who supports you during your child’s transition?  Who is in your corner for all this?  If you have a friend or spouse you can confide in, that’s a wonderful place to start. There are meetings throughout the country for PFLAG, which is an advocacy and support network for parents and families of the LGBTQ community.  PFLAG offer support groups throughout Georgia.

There are many books such as The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals and The Transgender Teen: A Handbook for parents and professionals supporting transgender and non-binary teens, both are guidebooks for families to learn to raise their children in an affirming household.

Reaching out to a therapist

In time, you might find that it is best for your child and for your family or yourself to have a trusted person to talk to and explore emotions.  You may decide to look for a therapist for your child or family.  As an affirming therapist for children, teenagers and young adults, I am available to answer your questions for a free brief consolation about working together. You can contact me at 404-948-6186 or through email using the contact forms on this website.

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