The conversation can be hard to start – but not impossible. Here’s some things to know about your transgender child
Ideally, parents want to love and support their kids more than anything. When your child comes out as transgender, it can be hard to know how best to do this.
As someone who is transgender, and also has parents, there are a million things I wish I could tell them. But it can often be hard to bridge the gap and start these conversations. The same is true for parents – it’s hard to know how to talk to your child about their transition, or how best to help. But without these conversations, you may lose that sense of closeness and understanding that makes all this stuff ok.
Whether you don’t know where to start, or think you understand their transition completely… here’s a few things your transgender child may want you to know.
You’re not losing your child
Finding out your child is transgender can come as a complete shock to some. One minute you were picking up your little girl from school, and now they aren’t a girl at all. Maybe you didn’t see any signs, maybe you had built an image of their future in your head. Maybe you aren’t ready for all the changes that could follow that initial coming out.
But you aren’t losing that child you knew.
They may not be the gender you once knew them as, but that’s all there is to it. They still love all the same things, have the same laugh, and the same silly habits you know and love. None of the important stuff has changed, they’re just growing into who they always were.
The medical side isn’t everything
One of the big things that infuriated me when I came out was immediately being asked about the medical stuff. Did I want to take testosterone? Did I want top surgery? Bottom surgery? Puberty blockers? To use the men’s toilets?? (OK – that last one wasn’t medical, but still annoying!)
My personal answer to all of those questions is, “Who cares?” If your child wants to take hormones, they’ll tell you. If they want bottom surgery, they’ll say, “I want to have bottom surgery.” But especially in the initial coming out, suddenly getting bombarded with these kinds of questions can feel invasive.
And none of that is the first step. You’ve taken the cart a mile away and left the horse in the stables. Maybe all those things are what your child wants eventually, but usually things like new clothes or, you know, how to refer to them come first. It’s great to be open to discussing the medical side – just be careful that you don’t skip the first conversation for one that may be months or even years down the line.
Stop with all the warnings!
We all have to live with the unfortunate truth that transgender people are going to experience some kind of bigotry in their life. But trust me when I say that we, as the people actually transitioning, are very aware of this already.
You don’t need to remind your trans kid of horrific hate crimes seen on the news, or suicide rates, or generally shitty stigmas. We know. We aren’t thrilled about it either.
But transitioning is a necessity. It’s something we need to do, to truly know and love the person we are. To feel comfortable in the world and in our own skin. We don’t need warnings. We don’t need to be reminded of the dangers. We need your support, especially if any of these awful things do come to pass.
Listen to us
A lot of what we want to tell our parents boils down to just listening. When your child tells you they’re transgender, listen to what they want from you. Don’t bombard them with medical questions, or the dangers they may face, or your own fears of losing your child…
Find out what they’d like you to do. Ask what they want their first steps to be and how you can help, and figure out where to go from there together. Your child needs to be the leader on this one, but you can be by their side to support them.
And remember, everyone’s transition looks different. You may have experience with a transgender friend, for example, but your child is not that friend. As with anything, different people have different wants and needs. Go into your child’s transition without assumptions or preconceived ideas of what being transgender means, and let them decide how their life will look.
Being transgender is a wonderful thing
For a lot of trans people, transitioning is amazing. We can finally look like ourselves, sound like ourselves, feel like ourselves… it’s liberating. It’s a time of blossoming into a happier, more confident self.
And as our parents, all we ask if that you’re by our side through it. You don’t need to understand everything at once, just stick by us and listen. Lending an ear and keeping an open mind is really the best thing you can do.
We need parents who are willing to listen, and learn. Parents who will stand by us. Parents who love us no matter what.
Aiden is an editorial and production intern at Title Media whilst also studying for their English master’s degree. He’s constantly looking for opportunities to have fun and get creative, whether it be art, baking, storytelling… you name it!
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