Support Your Trans Child

Hello Thrivers!

This month, you’ll be hearing more from us as we are introducing a new blog!

Our intern, Gavin Hannegan is an undergraduate student at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo supervised by Dr. Hannah Roberts. He’ll be sharing some weekly blog posts that we think you might find helpful regarding queer identities (LGBTQIA+) and queer-affirming therapy, which is a special passion for us here at Thrive SLO. We’re so glad to have you join us for this conversation!

Support Your Trans Child: Best Practices

“I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels

to finally love who I am enough

to pursue my authentic self.”

-Elliot Page, actor

Coming out as trans is not an easy thing to do. For many transgender children, they have been planning to tell their parents for months, years, or even decades. If they come out to you, that means that your child trusts you with personal information. They want to share with you their true, authentic self. Knowing that you want to support your child is an important first step, but how best to do that? With all of the prejudice against LGBTQ+ people occurring around the world, can your support make a difference? Yes it can!

Here are 5 practices to help you best support your trans child.

#1: It’s Okay to Give Yourself Time to Process

It is totally normal to feel unsure or confused about your child’s trans identity. That does not make you a bad parent! One strategy that other parents of trans children have found helpful is to allow yourself some grace as you adjust what you may have expected your child’s life to be like (Sansfaçon et al., 2019). Through this reflection, you can better attend to the needs of your child. It is also okay to be honest with your child and let them know how you are feeling, but don’t let your grief dominate your relationship. Tell them that you are supportive but that you need time to process. Chances are that your child also needed some time to come to terms with their identity.  

#2: Find a Support Group with Other Parents of Trans Children

There are plenty of other parents who have gone through similar situations. Reach out to any parents in your community with trans children and ask for their advice. These parents can validate your feelings and direct you to resources to help support your trans child, including where to access gender-affirming medical care. Or, if you don’t know anyone with a trans child, join a support group online. Support groups have been found to improve parents’ understanding of their child’s gender identity, strengthen the relationship between parent and child, and foster a sense of empowerment (Dangaltcheva et al., 2021). Building connections with trans allies is an especially important tool for combating systemic prejudice.

#3: Engage in Open Conversations With the LGBTQ+ Community

These conversations can seem intimidating, but they are important to have. Enter these conversations with a desire to learn and a willingness to change your perspectives, if needed. You can watch videos made by trans individuals on platforms such as YouTube or TikTok. You should also give your child a safe space to talk more about their experiences as a trans individual. It’s possible that you may say the wrong thing or not know how to respond–and that’s okay! The goal here is to support your trans child by letting them feel heard. 

#4: Help Your Child Seek Out Gender-Affirming Medical Care

While not essential for everyone, many trans children seek out medical care (when age and developmentally appropriate) to help them physically transition into their experienced gender identity. This can include, but not limited to, hormone therapy, top surgery, or speech therapy. With parental support, trans and gender non-conforming youth report feeling more confident accessing and utilizing gender-affirming medical care (Pflugeisen et al., 2023). Your child should determine what type of care they need, although be sure to have you and your child consult with a medical professional throughout the process. Your support can include financial resources, researching gender-affirming medical practitioners, or accompanying your child to appointments. 

#5: Love Your Child for Who They Are!

The most important resource you can provide for your trans child is love. Their trans identity is just one part of who they are. The core human being that you’ve loved for all of their life has not changed. By continuing to accept and love your child, the relationship between you two may become even stronger (Sansfaçon et al., 2015). Also, remember that this is your child’s journey, not yours. Don’t let your anxieties keep you from showing your child the respect and appreciation that they deserve. Even if the process towards acceptance is longer than you would think, the hard work that both of you put into this relationship will pay off.

Have more questions or feel like you need more support in life? Schedule a session with one of our therapists today! You can schedule online here!

We hope you enjoyed this blog post! Have more topics you’d like us to blog about? Contact us and we’ll be sure to include your topic in a future post!

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