Ways to support your Trans child
11th May 2021
Children and young people that are coming out as trans or are unsure whether they’re trans may need additional support from you, the parents / carers, with regards to specific support about gender identity. It can be difficult to know how best to support your child, so here’s some advice on how to best support and validate a transgender or questioning child:
Be patient, focus on listening and following your child’s pace
Being transgender can mean many different things for different people. Don’t assume that your child will want to transition or change all aspects of themselves just because they are trans. Follow your child’s pace and listen to them about what being trans means to them.
Ask questions to show your compassion and support
Truly understanding and coming to terms with what your child is going through will take time, but it’s important to make sure your child feels respected and acknowledged by you. Ask questions like:
- What can I do to support you?
- Is there anything I can do to make things easier?
- I’m interested in hearing how things have been like for you. Would you like to tell me more about it?
Use the correct name and pronouns
Using your child’s chosen name and pronouns is key in supporting them and for some, this is all the support they need. If ever you’re unsure of which pronouns someone is using, just respectfully ask. With regards to mistakes with pronouns, it’s best to acknowledge the mistake, apologise for it and move on whilst continuing to be supportive.
Be an advocate for your child
As a parent you should call out transphobia and ask that others respect your child’s identity. Have zero tolerance for disrespect or negative comments regarding your child’s identity. You may not be able to change people’s opinions, but the most supportive approach is to set expectation regarding how people should behave around and speak to or about your child. Their well-being is more important than other’s comfort.
Learn the terminology to improve inclusivity
People often confuse sex and gender, but they aren’t actually the same:
- Sex is assigned to a person on the basis of primary sex characteristics (genitalia) and reproductive functions
- Gender is often expressed in binary terms of masculinity and femininity; gender is largely culturally determined and is assumed from the sex assigned at birth
Here are some concepts and terms related to transgender experiences. Not all transgender people identify the same or define certain terms the same:
- Transgender describes people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth
- Transgender Man is a term used to described someone who is assigned female at birth but identifies and lives as a man. This may be shortened to Trans man, or FTM (female-to-male)
- Transgender Woman is a term used to describe someone who is assigned male at birth but identifies and lives as a woman. This may be shortened to Trans woman, or MTF (male-to-female)
- Dead naming describes calling someone by their birth name after they have changed their name as part of their transition
- Gender non-conforming is an identity under the transgender umbrella that means a person identifies as neither a man nor a woman. Some people use the terms gender non-binary, gender queer, gender fluid, genderless or agender to mean similar or different things
- Cisgender describes a person whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth
- Gender dysphoria refers to a persistent distress with one’s physical sex characteristics or assigned sex. Gender dysphoria is experienced by many, but not all, transgender people
- Passing is if someone is regarded, at a glance, to be a cisgender man or cisgender woman. This might include physical gender cues (hair or clothing) and/or behaviour which is historically or culturally associated with a particular gender