Five Ways to Support Your Transgender Kid
March 31st is Trans Day of Visibility. The MOB Nation supports LGBTQIA+ and is open to anyone who claims the title of “mom”. You can view our Statement of Inclusivity here.
This guest post is by Kaleigh Boysen-Quinata, LMFT. Learn more about Kaleigh at the end of the blog post.
Family support is critical for trans children. Trans kids have a higher risk of suicide and depression than their peers. They experience higher rates of bullying. Having a parent who is supportive and safe can make a huge difference in a child’s life.
Many parents of trans kids aren’t sure how to best support their child or may still be learning to understand their child’s gender identity. As a family therapist who has worked with many trans children and teens (and their parents), here are some ways that parents can provide support:
Respect your child’s identity and pronouns and ask others to do the same
Affirming your child’s identity shows that you respect them. It’s OK if you mess up – you might be very used to referring to your child by a certain pronoun or name and it may take time to change. Just catch yourself, quickly correct and move on. Same if a relative or friend misgenders your child or teen – just gently correct and move on.
Stand up for your child by calling out transphobic behavior or language
Kids don’t always know how to navigate potentially painful or challenging situations when relatives, friends, or strangers make transphobic comments. Don’t be afraid to correct others or provide some education, and have a conversation with your child ahead of time about how they would prefer to handle it.
Learn more about the transgender community
Organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and PFLAG have great resources for parents. (A list of resources can be found at the end of this blog post)
Advocate for your child or teen at school
Make sure that they have access to a bathroom they can comfortably and safely use. Help your child make a plan for how to communicate their pronouns and preferred/chosen name with teachers. Talk with teachers and school leadership about how they can be more inclusive in their policies and language.
Many parents express concern that their child or teen’s gender identity is “just a phase” or that they are “too young” to identify as trans or understand gender.
Research shows that children develop an understanding of gender from preschool age. Some children identify as trans from a very young age and some come out as trans in their teen years or later.
Your child’s gender presentation and expression may shift over time as they learn more about themselves and feel more comfortable sharing their identity publicly, and that is OK – it doesn’t mean that they are confused or that it’s a phase.
Your role as a parent is to support your child’s process and to trust and accept them when they share their identity with you.
Transgender and Non-Binary People FAQ (a good place to learn terminology and basic 101 information)
PFLAG – Opportunities to connect with other parents of transgender youth
Family is Still Family Campaign from National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
Mom, I’m Not a Girl – a short film about raising a transgender child
Kaleigh’s mission is to help parents understand their young children’s frustrating and challenging behaviors and teach them new tools and skills to connect with their children and foster the social and emotional skills needed to succeed in life.
She is trained in Child-Parent Psychotherapy, a counseling method focused on attachment and healing parent-child relationships after exposure to trauma or violence in children ages birth-6.
Connect with Kaleigh at Family Roots Therapy.