When your child is transgender…. gosh, how many times have I kicked off a sentence with those words in the past (nearly) seven years? I have lost count.
When your child is transgender:
- it gives you an entirely different perspective on what it means to support the LGBT community. It puts a face on it that is so closely linked with your heart and your life that you feel a fierceness and protectiveness as a parent reaching an entirely new level. And you don’t have to be out waving the flag or wearing the colors. (Disclaimer: Not all parents will feel like this and some will hit the ground running and others will come around. Everyone’s experience is unique.)
- you will learn what acceptance means at its truest form. You will be forced to look at your child in a different way, one you might not have dreamed, and you will have to face what’s inside your heart.
- all your beliefs of who you are as a parent will be put to a test. Your “unconditional” love will be poked, prodded, pushed and stretched. Wait for it.
- all of your beliefs regarding LGBT people will be put to a test. Your child is one of this group and the worst thing you can do is “accept” your child as LGBT but not accept other. It instantly invalidates your acceptance.
- you have to be prepared for battle at any time. Especially the surprise attacks- because you will have more of those unexpected encounters than the ones you planned on. You have to be ready to fight for your kid, regardless of their age. You will need to be flexible at all times. Sometimes you might be needed to take the lead and stand up to someone. Other times your silent presence will be enough. And there will be times when you only need to stand in the background and watch….at the ready, just in case you are needed. There is nothing more powerful than unwavering, solid parents standing with their trans kids.
- you will find that not everyone can be trusted- and some might be people you thought you could trust.
- you might find yourself putting your trust in “strangers” who become the most solid people in your life.
- you will discover a whole new world, filled with unfamiliar terms, from acronyms to clothing to medical.
- you might need to educate yourself on a few things. Cliff notes- It’s not a choice. No two transitions are alike. Acceptance, support and love are a must!
- seeking out others who are going through the same thing can be very helpful! Other parents can be priceless in terms of support and resources.
- you will need patience. With everyone. And everything.
- there will be good times and bad times.
- you need to remember that regardless of your child’s name or gender, they are still the same kid you always had.- this is just another part of them.
- don’t sweat the small stuff. So much of it is not permanent. (We are on our 3rd name and 4th pronoun change over here. And gender expression? Well, it’s fluid so it’s …..fluid.)
- you will be having conversations you never imagined you would have with your child.
- you will become an expert on the difference between gender and sex.
- if you are struggling, it will get better. It really will. Your kid is so lucky to have you as a parent!
- and you are not struggling, that’s awesome- your kid is so lucky to have you as a parent!
- remember to take care of yourself. It’s really easy to let this consume your life. You need to be in a good place yourself to help your child.
- if you are past all the sticky stuff and you see a newbie parent trying to make their way through, remember how you felt in the early days and reach out. There is nothing worse than feeling helpless to help your child and feeling like you are alone. If you can give back a little, please do. If you can do nothing else, a kind, encouraging word is priceless to someone who is floundering a bit.
Wishing you all good things!