If you are parenting transgender teens, it might be difficult understanding what they want from you and what makes a better parent-child relationship.
The situation becomes trickier when the teens are unsure about their gender identity, and the parents are unsure about the support system they should offer.
Many have the misconception that transgender people are sure about their gender identity and sexual orientation from an early age. But, in reality, it takes time. Their sudden changes in self-expression, and preference for pronouns, become difficult for parents to understand.
So, how do parents of transgender teens support their children? What do they need from their parents? Here are some simple things parents need to understand about supporting transgender teens.
Is My Child Transgender?
It is often common for children to engage in behaviors related to other genders. Sometimes girls might want to play with water guns, action figures, and trucks. Boys, too, may want to play with barbie dolls and play house. Girls often hate girly clothes, and boys love to pick up girly clothes. Such behavior is called gender non-forming behavior.
Showing gender non-conforming behavior does not mean that a child is transgender. However, it is a clue of how a child is feeling about their behaviors. However, we can follow a general rule to find out whether your teenagers are transgender teens or non-binary. It is possible to find out their gender identity when their gender non-conformity is persistent.
In simple words, if your four-year-old son wants to wear a skirt, then he might not be a transgender. However, if your son, who is male by birth, insists on wearing girls’ clothes then there is a chance of them being non-binary or transgender.
Since children have unpredictable and variable ways of self-expression, it is hard to tell if there is transgender/non-binary. However, if you feel confused, you can try taking help from the experts or gender therapists.
When children come out as transgender teens, parents often overreact or panic. Many feel the urge to push back or reject their children after discovering their gender identity.
Some are struck with fear since they cannot imagine their children’s difficulties due to their identity change. However, once parents shake off this fear, they only worry about their children.
Parents, once they find out that their child is transgender, should not panic or overreact. You feel nothing but love for your children, and you should show that through your actions. Since your child has expressed their feelings to you, you should start to accept them instead of overreacting.
Help The Explore And Express
Once you have accepted their feelings, you should encourage them to explore their identity. This includes allowing them the freedom of self-expression. They would try to express their feelings instead of matching to the body they were born with. Transgender teens would often want to try crossdressing.
Your son might decide to wear mini skirts, or your daughter might want to try a short haircut. Whether they want to change their wardrobe or they want you to call them by a different name, you should offer your teenage child the freedom they seek.
Get Gender Education
This experience is new to your child, just as it is new to you. But, as a parent, you want to ensure to offer the best support to your child. But, it may seem extremely difficult if you do not have the necessary knowledge. Once you arm yourself with the necessary education regarding gender identity and gender expression, helping your child and accepting the situation will be easier.
Many parents are under the impression that being transgender is a mental disorder which it is not. It may also not be inextricably connected to their sexuality. Transgender teens may choose to be straight, gay, or bisexual.
Give Them A Safe Space For Discussion
Transitioning for transgender teens may take a long time. However, their parents and the loved ones should help them through the process by keeping the line of communication open. They require support from their close ones before anything. Social transitioning, like clothing, preferred activities, and their preferred names and pronouns, takes a longer time.
Also, hormone and gender reassignment surgeries are more complex and take a longer. Transgender teens need consistent help from their loved ones and parents during their transition phase. Only acceptance and a safe space for communication help a lot.
Allow Yourself Time
A revelation like this makes a huge change and causes a shift in the family. When a child is born, parents start creating an image around them and dream about their future. However, when the child suddenly comes out as transgender, their world becomes upside down.
The whole family has to adjust to this change, and the parents often go through a sense of loss. However, parents need to allow themselves time for this sudden shift. It will take time to adjust to their favorite pronouns, preferred belongings, and names. But, if you give it time, it will become normal.
Seek Professional Help
Understanding transgender teens may still be difficult. Understanding their gender identity, sexual orientation, and overall social transitioning is complicated, without a doubt. So, if you feel overwhelmed by all of this, you can seek help from professionals.
It would be wise to wise to consult with medical health experts and mental health specialists for certain confusions. Many gender therapists and experts are ready to help you understand transgender teens and other non-binary genders.
Do Not Misgender Them
Use the gender pronoun and name your child prefers. You might think of it as a trivial matter but for them, it might be something very big. It is important for the psychological health of the teen. It affects their mental health in such a way, that if the pronoun they want to choose for them is not respected, they often take the decision to commit suicide. There have been instances proving this statement.
Allow Them To Take The Lead
Do not assume about the sexual orientation of your transgender teen, or do not interfere with their plans of transformation. Let them explore their own expression and gender identity and be supportive of them.
If your daughter comes and shares the fact that they feel like a guy inside, suggest them a different hairstyle, or help them dress some other way they prefer. If they want you to call them by some other name, try that. Show them your support and let them know that your love for them will never change no matter who they choose to be.
Seek Help Outside From Support Groups
The perfect source of information about your trans teen and to get assistance for your family is the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. Transitioning doesn’t happen overnight. It is a long and complex process. You should seek help from these groups, as it becomes difficult to go through the process alone.
It will help you smooth the journey of reassigning the gender. Not just that, it is better to seek help from a medical expert, so that they can guide you through the process and also provide you with the appropriate information.
The point where your teen starts feeling comfortable with their body is the time you should stop intervening with them in any way. For some, mental health therapy and hormonal therapy might do the work, but for some gender affirmation therapy might be required to make your teen feel more comfortable with the transition and be comfortable with their gender choice.
And it is better to do proper research if your child is looking for the option of surgery. Find an experienced plastic surgeon who has experience with trans teens, and can be empathetic towards them and commit to helping them throughout their journey.
Transgender teens might choose to be gay, lesbian, or straight. The word Transgender describes one’s gender identity, not their sexual orientation. They can be pansexual, queer, asexual, or have other sexual orientations. Self-understanding one’s gender identity is a complex process.
So, as a parent of nonbinary or transgender teens, it is your responsibility to accept and support their transition. Reading the different points explained in this article should help. However, if you have any further queries, you can leave them in the comment box. We will answer as soon as possible.
- What to Know About a BPD “Favorite Person” Relationship
- A Guide To Planned home birth 101 – Benefits, Risks, More
- Adult Breastfeeding : Here Is How Breastfeeding Your Partner Leads To A Great Relationship