Words of Advice from Parents of Trans Young People
11th June 2021
It can be very challenging trying to navigate information and resources that are best suited to help you, as a parent / carer, support your children. Sometimes it’s very difficult to find people who best relate to your situation. In order to help, here’s some advice from parents of Trans young people:
How would you advise a parent who thinks that their child being Trans is just “a phase”?
- “Whether it is or isn’t, a parents role is to support in every way we can. Not to judge or decide what we think is best for our child. To help them explore the world on their terms, not to tell them what they are or aren’t”
- “Love your child no matter what, they’re not being bad”
- “Well, it might be, but acceptance is key. If you understand and accept them for who they are or think they might be, giving them a safe space to explore how they feel. You, the adult, need to be open with your child/young person”
- “Listen to them and support them. Educate yourself and talk about things with your child”
What advice would you give to a parent who’s struggling to accept their child’s gender identity?
- “Their child’s identity is not a reflection on them personally. To remind them that we help them grow and the decisions they make may be tough ones, but we, as their parents, have to support that by putting aside our own feelings”
- ‘To look for a support group where they will realise, they are not on their own”
- “Give yourself time, it will all slot into place”
- “If you, the adult, love your child, it shouldn’t matter what gender identity they identify with as long as they are safe and healthy”
- “You need time to accept the situation. Cry if you need to, it’s natural to experience a sense of loss. Your child is still your child. Don’t drive a wedge between yourselves. You both need each other’s support to cope with the change in your lives”
How would you advise a parent who thinks that their child is too young to know anything about their gender identity or sexuality?
- “To seek support and guidance in how to help them manage their own feelings”
- “If they are young, then do everything you can to support them as there is nothing that can be done before they are 18 that can’t be reversed (change name/hair/clothing), which would give them all the time they need to work out who they are”
- “Listen to your child. Don’t judge and don’t dismiss their feelings. Join a support group and speak to others who share your situation”
How would you advise a parent to best support their child with their gender identity?
- “To discuss options with school, find support groups such as Brunswick, visit GP’s, support with change of pronouns and name. Help them to live the life they want to in the gender they want and need to live in”
- “Listening, being patient, compromises, being there for them”
- “Talk to them”
- “Educate yourself with help from your child. Listen to them, support them, be there for them. Encourage patience and help them cope with the wait for treatment, etc. Do what’s right for your family, not necessarily what others are doing”
- “Be strong”
What advice would you give to a parent who’s scared of misgendering their child?
- “To not be afraid to have open conversations with your child about this but at the same time to accept that they need you to get it right”
- “Explain to your child that you might not always get it right, you’re only human and that you love them even when you do get things wrong”
- “Don’t worry, do the best you can and apologise when you mess up. The child needs to understand you’re learning too”
- “It happens quite a lot at first. Make sure you tell your child it’s not done on purpose. Ask them to call you by your first name instead of Mum or Dad for a few days. They may realise it’s hard to get used to”
What advice would you give to a parent about helping to support their child’s mental health?
- “Access a GP as soon as you can to discuss potential concerns. To have conversations with schools for additional support in school and to help you identify issues”
- “Encourage them to do activities they enjoy”
- “Join a support group, there’s lots of breathing, relaxation techniques and apps that can help”
- “Talk to them, but not in a “Sit down we are going to have a talk” way, normalise it by going for a walk or watching a film together or even at the dinner table, make time when they come to you, prioritise them, it will make all the difference”
- “Listen to them. Get support. Never stop fighting for them”
How can parents encourage their child to explore and express their identity at their pace?
- “Allow them the freedom to explore. Not to rush the child but not to hold the child back either”
- “Explaining each step may take time, patience is key”
- “Allow them to shop for clothes from the whole shop, not just the gender they were born in or just the one they wish to be. Then the way they dress will not be an issue, they are just clothes”
- “Make sure you discuss your concerns but not impose your worries on your child. Some kids want to charge forward, others are a little slower, so try to strike a balance. When they are ready to take the next step, let them do it and be there to support. Some days will be hard as they face up to the questions from others. Remind your child how strong they are and how proud you are of them”
Any other tips?
- “Love your child unconditionally”
- “Gender identity is not black and white, men can be feminine, just as women can be masculine, so don’t expect your transgender child/ young person to be any different”
- “It’s ok to feel like you are grieving and to hate your child’s new name. It ok not to be ok. As long as my child is happy, that’s all that matters to me. It gets easier, I promise”