When your child comes out as trans, you may feel lost, not knowing how to help. However, supporting them, affirming their gender and showing compassion are the best things you can do for your transgender child.
My child came out as transgender
We wanted to provide you with some key information on how to support your transgender child. This is for you to navigate their gender journey with more compassion and understanding.
Transgender and gender diverse people have existed since the beginning of time. However, it is only recently that more trans people are feeling safe to come out. If your child has come out to you, that is the first indicator that you are doing something right. It means they felt comfortable enough to confide in you about their gender.
For many parents who are not surrounded by LGBTQ+ people it can be overwhelming. However, we are here to help. If you do not know what to do, supporting your child is the first and most important step.
What can I do to support my transgender child?
There are many different ways you can support your child when they come out as trans. You can start by helping them socially transition. Your kid may want to start using a different name, pronouns and words to describe themselves. As reintroducing oneself can be a very overwhelming and scary process, it is important you as a parent or carer facilitate this process as much as you can.
Love them unconditionally
The first thing you can do may seem obvious but love your child unconditionally. Love them even if you do not fully understand what they are going through. They need a supportive environment to grow. Research has shown that having at least one supportive parent can reduce the possibility of a young LGBTQ+ person attempting suicide by 40%.
Loving your transgender child also means standing up for them when they experience discrimination. It is very likely your kid will be bullied for being who they are. However, you can support them by stepping in if you see such discriminatory behaviour happening.
Help them choose a name and pronouns
Your child may want to change their name. While names do not have a gender, social gender norms have assigned a gender to them. Therefore, your child may feel like their name is too masculine or too feminine. This is certainly not the case for every trans kid and your child may never want to change their name.
However, if they do decide to change their name, it is a great opportunity for you as a parent to help in the process, with your child’s consent of course. If your transgender child already has a few potential names in mind, make a list. If they have no idea yet, do not worry, this is their process, and they can take as much time as they need. You can try looking together at names of different celebrities or fictional characters your child likes or go through online lists of baby names.
No matter what their gender is, there is a wide range of pronouns they can choose from for you to use when referring to them. They are also free to have no pronouns at all, being referred to solely by their name. Even if mistakes are made at first, try your best to never misgender your child as this can have negative impacts on their mental health.
Keep in mind that gender identity does not equal pronouns. For example, your child might identify as a woman, however, this does not mean that they have to use ‘she/her’ pronouns. There are countless existing pronouns. Asking and respecting your child’s pronouns is the best way forward.
Affirm their gender by using the correct language
Your trans kid might also want to hear what their new name sounds like and whether someone else refers to them as such would feel gender affirming. Ask your child if they would like you to try out different names in order to see which one feels the most comfortable.
Once your kid has decided on a name, do not misgender or deadname your transgender child. Mistakes can happen, but always correct yourself. It is important you validate your child’s name and gender identity.
Your child may wish to use certain LGBTQ+ terms to describe themselves. For example, they might identify as a transgender man or a transgender woman. Some people do not identify with any labels as they can feel restrictive. We have created a list of the most important LGBTQ+ terms relating to gender identity and sexual orientation. Read through this blog piece to understand the difference between gender and sexuality.
Offer mental health support and counselling
Transgender children often need mental health support. The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ+ Mental Health found that trans and non-binary youth are a higher risk of depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide. This is due to the dysphoria and low self-esteem they may be experiencing. But your kid’s discriminatory environment and anti-trans legislation are also contributing factors.
Therefore, if you can afford it, make sure your transgender child has access to counselling and other mental health support. Check in with them to see how they are feeling and discuss potentially seeking a gender specialist counsellor with them.
GenderGP also offers counselling sessions for young people which you can book via SimplyBook. All our counsellors are either trans themselves or have extensive experience working with the transgender and gender diverse community.
You may have a million questions you want to ask your child when they come out to you as trans. Make sure to educate yourself first before asking inappropriate or triggering questions.
Educating yourself can also help you better understand your child and their community. You may confuse gender identity and sexuality, however, the two are not the same. You can watch films, TV series, documentaries or read books about and by trans people on how to navigate your relationship with your transgender child.
Essentially, make sure that you are your child’s biggest supporter, ally and advocate. Celebrate them for who they are. If other people misgender your kid, correct them and set boundaries with unsupportive family members to protect your child’s well-being. Let your child know they are not alone.
Resources for you and your transgender child
Your child may wish to start gender affirming healthcare. Therefore, besides supporting them with their social transition, you may also want to get in touch with doctors and other healthcare practitioners to help your child access this care. Work together with doctors who can guide you through your kid’s gender affirming healthcare journey.
If you would like to know more about what gender affirming healthcare is, please check out our blog. We explain everything you need to know about trans healthcare in order to better understand what your child may go through in their transition journey. For more information on how to support your transgender child, visit the Human Rights Campaign website and read through their very informative guide.
We offer counselling sessions for transgender people as well as parents of transgender children. During these sessions you are free to talk about your child’s gender journey as well as any other struggles you both may be facing. You can book a counselling session with GenderGP via SimplyBook.