As a parent, you want to be supportive and affirming of your child’s changes, choices, expressions and identity, but where do you start when your child shares their gender dysphoria or transgender identity with you? How do you make sure you support them through the process?There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to adapting to and embracing your child's newfound transgender awareness. However, there are definitely ways to put you and yours on track towards fulfilling, empowering and family-positive choices as you navigate through your child’s, and now family’s transgender journey. Here are a few pointers to help ease and speed up your adjustment period.
Embrace the transition
You are not at “fault”, because there is no fault to be had. No one has done anything wrong. Your child’s identity is their own and as soon this is recognized, the sooner both you and your child can be on a path towards confidence and a more fulfilling, affirming and richer life. You’ve made a lot of assumptions about your child and they feel differently. Embrace it! Learn from it and build a deeper, more thoughtful and truthful relationship with your child.
Related Blog: A True Transformation: Preparing For Gender Affirmation
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
If you are reading this, it's probably a fairly safe bet to say that you’ve yet to have a child express and realize a transgender identity. And it's pretty much a guarantee this your child’s first transgender experience. Its uncharted territory for both of you and one of the best things you can do as a parent is learn to not be afraid to ask questions and be willing and open to receive answers from your child.
Listen to your child
It’s worth repeating: there is no one-size-fits-all answer to your child’s gender experience and expression. Every person who goes through what your child is experiencing takes a different path, has a different identity and needs different things for their journey. They also need different things from their support network, parents included. The best way to find out what your child needs from you is to listen to them. Its their experience, their journey and you are a supporting cast member along for the ride. Learn to pick up and take queues and keep your mind and ears open.
In choosing to recognize and share their truth, your child is now on a path that will require not just your support as a positive, affirming and supportive parent, it will also require friendship. Whether they ask for it or not, make sure your child knows that you are always there to listen to them, to gossip with them, to vent. True roads are not always the easiest paths to take and sometimes it’s the little acts of friendship that help our most loved get through the tough times.
Be proud of yourself and your child
It takes a tremendous amount of courage to openly identify as transgender. You should be proud of your child, but also proud of yourself for raising a courageous person and for creating an environment supportive of your child’s identity.
You and your child are just beginning your journey and you’re probably going to experience more change now than you ever have. Being prepared for important change is hard because so many of the most significant changes in life happen when we least expect them or don’t expect them at all.
Read up on resources
Fortunately, other people have led the way on transgender identity, setting up a community and system of support that you and your child can utilize to help navigate through your new journey. GLAAD has a great list of resources for you and your family to utilize and PFLAG has developed family support communities specifically for the transgender experience.
Related Blog: Gender Affirmation Resources for Friends and Family
If your child is considering gender-affirming procedures, please contact Dr. Beverly Fischer at the Advanced Center for Plastic Surgery staff. Call 410.308.4700 to schedule a consultation or simply ask for more information about our gender affirmation procedures.