by Shadra Bruce
When your child comes out as trans, your first feeling may be cautious surprise. You’ve lived with this person for their whole lives, and you never noticed a thing. Yet, if you want to support your child, it’s possible to respect their newfound identity while navigating what – if anything – that means for you and your family.
Lately, it seems the world’s in the middle of an identity revolution. Queer and trans people are feeling more emboldened to live as themselves and be loud and proud about it. It’s no wonder kids are starting to become curious about such things themselves – and no, they’re not learning it in school or from drag queen story hour or from their LGBTQ+ teacher. This is really just your child trying to come to terms with who they are, no different than any other child.
Your Trans Child Is Still the Same Person
An important thing to remember is that your child is still the same person they always were. They are the same person, likely with the same interests, quirks, and personality. For most families, the only thing that’s changed is how the child presents themselves physically and socially. No, this doesn’t mean you should immediately rush to the gender clinic.
First and foremost, it’s a social transition. In essence, it’s changing how the world sees them to align how they see themselves, whether that’s experimenting with new names or new clothes. Yes, it all seems like something brand new to adjust to, but at the end of the day, they’re still the same child you’ve been raising.
It Is a Privilege that Your Trans Child Trusts You Enough to Tell You
Your child likely has been thinking about this for a long time – months, or even years for some. Especially in a world where being transgender is a hot political debate, no one comes to this decision lightly. Know that this is a vulnerable moment for your child and treat it with the gentleness such moments warrant. Even more probable is that your child isn’t even finished navigating their identity themselves. They offered up a new name and pronouns that they want to use, but they’re not even finished with puberty yet. The indecisiveness and impulsivity that reigns during adolescence doesn’t stop with gender identity, and patience is crucial in times like this.
You Don’t Have to Be Perfect, But at Least TRY
Above anything else, make sure your child knows that their voice is being heard. Even if you don’t understand and even if it seems sudden, your child is offering you a chance to be a part of their journey with them. More than anything, they need to know that you’re listening to them and that you are still there for them during this transition. You can learn the proper terminology as you go along. Despite the clamoring you might hear on the internet, many trans people will be patient with you as long as you can prove that you are trying.
Being Trans Isn’t a New Thing
The language may be new but the people have been here for ages. If your child has come out to you as trans, take that as a sign that they feel safe enough to do so. It’s an educational experience for everyone involved. Adolescence was always going to be an unpredictable experience, and this is no different. Keep an open line of communication with your child and let them know that no matter what changes, your love for them will not. It doesn’t need to be a battle, and a transgender child with the proper support can eventually turn into a happy transgender adult.
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