Parents: Supporting Your Transgender Child

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Gender Odyssey conference in Los Angeles. I also had the opportunity to speak and educate others at the conference about teaching clients to use positive self-affirmations and be kind to themselves through gender dysphoria.

Advice for Transgender and Non-Binary Adolescents

One of my favorite presentations was a youth panel where five brave transgender and gender fluid preteens and teenagers spoke about themselves and took questions from the audience. My question to these transgender and gender fluid teenagers was what advice they had for other kids who may run into people who are unkind and bullying at their school. Across the panelists, they all said something that kids that are being bullied because they are transgender need to remember that the problem is not you. The issue is with the people that are mean to are mean to you. Knowing that sometimes makes it hurt a little less.

I also heard about how painful it can be when family members aren’t supportive of transgender and gender non-conforming kids and teenagers. What seemed to be helpful though was when parents are willing and happily able to give their children unconditional love. When parents can give their children love that isn’t dictated by their gender presentation and that isn’t dependent on what pronouns or name they have. What seemed to help was when parents were supportive to their children in front of and to the children’s family members that weren’t supportive. The children and teenagers really seemed to appreciate their parents standing up for them.

What Happens in Therapy?

In my practice, when I work with kids and teenagers who are either transgender, gender non-binary or have questions about their gender, I try to involve parents when it makes sense. And, sometimes it makes sense to involve parents in therapy a lot. Other times, children want their own space to be able to talk and process their emotions and thoughts and feelings about gender without their parents in the room yet. If your child asks you if they can see a gender therapist or come to you with an announcement about their gender, it’s a promising idea to give them that safe space to process their gender with a therapist.

As a gender therapist though, I don’t just talk about gender identity with children and teenagers. Sometimes that’s just a little of what goes on in therapy. Children and teenagers who are transgender or gender fluid can have other concerns like anxiety or sadness and depression. They could feel lonely or have feelings of dysphoria that keeps them fully enjoying their lives. They can also be happy well-rounded children who are just discovering themselves. They can be both and it’s important to fully support them and allow them to express themselves and learn and grow. That’s why when children and teenagers who are transgender, non-binary or questioning their gender come to therapy, it’s important to learn about them as a whole person, not just focus on their gender.

During the conference, a lot of the information covered was directly about working with children and teenagers. As a gender therapist that regularly sees adolescents in my practice, I feel like it’s important to always be learning and seeking knowledge how to better work with children and adolescents and support them in their journey.

Reach Out For Support

If you have a child that is transgender, non-binary or maybe they have come to you though text or a letter or even sat you down to let you know they are questioning their gender, I am available to help. You can be certain that I am an affirming therapist and I will support your child in their journey, whatever the destination. You can reach out to me at 404-800-7586 for a free 15 minute consultation or email me through the contact form here.

 

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