What Parents of Trans Kids Should Know

What Parents of Trans Kids Should Know

Right now, we’re seeing a revolution of sorts for people who want to openly live their lives as who they truly are. In the political sphere, there’s been a lot of hurtful and targeted language that’s hidden under the cloak of “identity politics.” Regardless of where you stand in these conversations, there’s no denying that many people are living the reality of being transgender or gender fluid and must face the incendiary remarks every day.

The LGBTQ+ community is made up of people from many walks of life. They are still fighting for respect and representation in the U.S. as people debate their rights and their identities. For parents, it can be jarring to have their child inform them that they identify as transgender themselves. This can leave you trying to quickly research what this means for your child, your relationship with them, and what’s to come. Let’s explore some of the answers you may be seeking.

They’re still your child

The child you’ve known for years just informed you they no longer identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, and they may even suggest changing their name. So, who is this child standing in front of you?

Ultimately, the answer lies within the shared experiences you’ve already had with one another over the years. Your child is the same person they’ve been each and every day of their lives. Sure, they may go through some physical, emotional, and personality changes – but what child doesn’t? Your child is not defined exclusively by their gender.

They may want to distance themselves from certain habits or activities they’ve been a part of, but it’s important to be open to the new opportunities they want to take advantage of. They’re not going to get support from everyone on this new journey, so you should be someone they can rely on.

Your child may need time and space

Your child likely told you because they trust you and are seeking your support. However, just because they told you doesn’t mean they want everyone else to know. So, let them go at their own pace, and don’t rush to talk to your family, your friends, or your neighbors.

If they ask you to let this process play out in private then you should give them that space. A larger support circle may seem like the right answer, but it can also create pressures from more angles than your child is ready to take on.

This isn’t a new “trend”

One of the biggest misunderstandings is that trans people came about all of a sudden. The facts of our history dispel this, establishing a deep and consistent history where people sought affirmation of their true gender.

Simply looking from an etymological perspective, the outdated term “transvestite” originated back in 1910 with “transsexual” coming in the years that followed. Each of these terms has been used to describe the same thing as the more modern term, “transgender” – which originated in or around 1965. So, even from this perspective, we’re looking at over 100 years of history… but we don’t stop there. Texts from 4500 B.C. (over 6,000 years ago) show evidence that historical cultures accepted sacred individuals who showed traits of gender fluidity.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if people started discovering their true gender thousands of years ago or yesterday – it’s important to give everyone the respect and representation they deserve.

Will my child need surgery?

The quick answer here is “no.” Not everyone who is transgender goes through gender-affirming surgery or medical care. Some people only do hormone treatments while others don’t do anything at all.

There are certain insurances and organizations that will help pay for these surgeries and hormone therapy if your child does make that decision, but it’s a decision that should be left up to them.

Will they regret surgery?

You also shouldn’t worry about your child “regretting it” if they decide to go through with the surgery. Studies show less than 1% of people who go through with gender-affirming surgery end up regretting it.

How can I better support my child?

Your role in their lives shouldn’t change all that much. It’s important to be a supportive and accessible parent to our children no matter what.

Your best option to find more to this answer is to listen to your child. They’re being open with you right now, and it’s likely because they want your support or at least want you to be aware so you can become more supportive as you learn more. Unless you’re transgender, you aren’t going through this experience and won’t have the understanding that they do – let them guide you in that sense.

If you’re struggling with this news or your child is struggling with their mental health as these changes happen, it’s important to seek out experienced and inclusive therapy. At Integrated Therapies, we support people and families no matter what their situation is. Contact us and let us go on this walk with you.