For even the most understanding and supportive parents, your child coming out as trans can be a difficult adjustment. You may feel lost, sad, fearful, and much more. So what do you do when your child comes out as trans?
Since I do not identify as trans and do not have children, I am not an expert on this matter. But trans people and their parents are! After reading countless Reddit threads, like this one and PFLAG’s guide, Our Trans Loved Ones.
I have created a list of the top seven pieces of advice that came up time and time again suggested primarily from trans folks, since they are the experts, as well as their families.
1. Tell them you love and support them.
Your child was likely extremely nervous and worried to tell you that they are trans. The first thing you should do is let them know that you love and support them regardless of their gender identity.
2. Ask your child what they need from you.
This can be a wide variety of things. They may need help finding social support, medical support, or buying items for their transition such as new clothes or a chest binder. Ask them what name and gender pronouns they would like for you to use when referring to them.
Also ask them who, if anyone else, they want to know about their transition and if they would like to personally tell certain people, such as family and close friends, or if they would like you to help tell others when the time is right.
3. Encourage them to seek appropriate and supportive medical care.
This includes medical care regarding their transition and the start of hormones or surgery, if that is something they desire. It may also include therapy if they feel that they would benefit from having someone to talk to as they begin the often difficult process of transitioning.
4. Apologize if you make a mistake or misgender them.
It is likely that you will make a mistake by forgetting to call your child by their new name if they have one, misgendering them, or saying something that you do not realize is offensive.
The most important thing to do in these instances is to apologize to them and learn from your mistakes.
5. Do your research and ask questions.
You may have a lot of questions about what your child’s transition means.
Try to do some research online or talk to other parents of trans children to gather as much information as possible. Remember it is not your child’s responsibility to educate you about everything.
Once you have done some research, it is appropriate to talk to your child about things you are still confused about or questions specifically related to their transition.
6. Take care of yourself.
When your child comes out as trans, you may feel yourself feeling a sense of mourning, grief, anger, and/or fear. These are normal emotions to feel, but they should not be directed at your child.
See a therapist or go to a support group to work through your feelings in a healthy way that does not burden your child.
7. Be an advocate.
There are millions of trans parents around the world fighting for a better world for their trans children. Join these parents and families in creating a world that is more accepting and welcoming of your child!
Much of your fear may subside when you realize you are not alone in supporting your child.