When your child comes out as transgender, many parents go through feelings of loss of the son or daughter you once had. "When my son came out, I felt a deep grief that I had lost my little girl. When I realized, though, I was interpreting my son's coming out as a switch, when really, Jude had always been transgender. The only thing that has changed is my vision of who Jude would be, not who Jude is."
Will my child be safe? Will our community turn away from our family? Will we be OK? Fear is normal for all parents, as we all want nothing more than our kids to be safe and happy. Statistically, the trans community is less likely to be safe or happy. That's terrifying. Working though our own fears will help you help your kid be happy. Understand that we all will have your own process.
1. There’s nothing wrong with our children.
2. Younger kids generally handle the idea of transgender children well...
3. And “adults” are the worst.
4. Access to care experienced with transgender youth is spotty, but nearly universally supportive.
5. Schools are getting it right (most of the time).
6. Having a transgender child isn’t always the hardest part about having a transgender child...
7. Trans-feminine children get the worst of it.
8. Don’t judge us when you haven’t walked a mile in our shoes.
Gender is more complex than most of us have been taught. Gender is made up of three parts: (1) gender biology (our bodies or biological sex – our sex assigned at birth based on appearance of genitals), (2) gender expression (how we dress and act), and (3) Gender identity (how we feel inside). For most kids, these three facets of gender line up and the kids are typically gendered boys or girls (cisgender). For other kids, however, these three facets of gender align differently; these kids are Gender-expansive, which includes transgender kids.
It’s begun to edge into the feminist mainstream that gender isn’t everything we always thought it had been. New words and terms seem to be popping up out of thin air, like “ambigender” and “agender” and “gender fluid,” and they crop up so fast that it’s hard to keep up!
What do all these terms mean, anyway?
The countersuits being brought by the federal government and states such as North Carolina over the use of bathrooms by transgender individuals encompass many complex issues on federal versus states’ rights. But they also highlight a critical, common and incredibly damaging misperception: that gender and biology are two separate things. A letter writer to my local paper notes with respect to the Obama administration’s actions dictating bathroom policy, “Strangely enough, it seems to be predicated on the idea that one’s gender is a matter of choice rather than biology.”
Recently, a video about a transgender child in California named Ryland Whittington went viral. It is beautiful and moving and shows the power of unconditional parental love:
When Julia was 7 years old, she had a life-changing conversation with her mother. She told her mother she felt like a boy trapped in a girl's body. For 14 years, Julia lived as a female, but then, after discovering the meaning of transgender, she told her family she wanted to transition into Jake. "I wanted to be the dad. I wanted to be a positive male role model in someone's life," Jake told Oprah in 2007. "That's when I knew that there was a difference between being a lesbian and who I was."
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Through her own parenting experience, Christy Hegarty has become an advocate for families with transgender children. During her talk at TEDxBloomington, Hegarty shares what she has learned as the mother of a transgender child. She explores the concept that we should be able to accept that our children may be different than we expect them to be and that we should not be afraid to allow them to express themselves.
A Mormon mom's story of unconditional love for her transgender son. The Transgender Awareness Project is a broad based public education campaign. It's purpose is to help elevate, empower, and humanize the real lived experience of transgender Utahns and their families.
Puberty is an awkward time for just about everybody, but for transgender teens it can be a nightmare, as they grow overnight into bodies they aren't comfortable with. In a heartfelt talk, endocrinologist Norman Spack tells a personal story of how he became one of the few doctors in the US to treat minors with hormone replacement therapy. By staving off the effects of puberty, Spack gives trans teens the time they need.
Experts in 12 states -- including law enforcement officials, government employees, and advocates for victims of sexual assault -- have debunked the right-wing myth that sexual predators will exploit transgender non-discrimination laws to sneak into women's restrooms, calling the myth baseless and "beyond specious."
Surprise: There are zero reported cases of this happening. Several states, including Arizona, Florida, Texas and Kentucky, have considered or are considering enacting so-called "bathroom bills," which restrict transgender people from using the bathroom in line with their gender identity, and are framed as "protective" measures against "sexual predators."
For many allies, familiarity with lesbian, gay, and bisexual peopleâand the issues that they faceâis increasingly common. And yet, when we discuss inclusion of our transgender friends, that level of familiarity is very different. Continuing your ally journey to become an educated, out, and proud trans ally takes specific resources and support…and this is where you can start.
Books For Parents
Linda Gromko MD is a Board Certified Family Physician who has worked with the transgender community for years. She explains the basics of gender identity, sexual orientation, puberty, puberty blockers, hormone treatments, and gender affirming surgeries. She shares years of her patients’ wisdom and practical information on getting through every day in the best way possible—from coming out to parents, to school issues, to coping with depression, to love and sex.
There is no one way to be transgender. Transgender and gender non-conforming people have many different ways of understanding their gender identities. Only recently have sex and gender been thought of as separate concepts, and we have learned that sex (traditionally thought of as physical or biological) is as variable as gender (traditionally thought of as social).
A 2015 Stonewall Honor Book. A groundbreaking work of LGBT literature takes an honest look at the life, love, and struggles of transgender teens.
Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference. Portraits, family photographs, and candid images grace the pages, augmenting the emotional and physical journey each youth has taken.
"Being a girl was something that never really happened for me."—Rae Spoon
Ivan E. Coyote and Rae Spoon are accomplished, award-winning writers, musicians, and performers; they are also both admitted "gender failures." In their first collaborative book, Ivan and Rae explore and expose their failed attempts at fitting into the gender binary, and how ultimately our expectations and assumptions around traditional gender roles fail us all.
Despite growing awareness of gender variance, books on the topic largely ignore the needs of families who struggle to understand and support their gender nonconforming loved ones. Now What? A Handbook for Families with Transgender Children offers a comprehensive approach to the concerns and challenges that families must face. Dr. Butt explains options, provides resources, defines terms, lays out the history of transgenderism, and offers guidance through the myriad issues that confront families with a gender-nonconforming child. Practical in approach and thoroughly researched, this handbook provides information and support for families with transgender children of all ages, ranging from the pre-school child who shouts, “Stop calling me a boy! I’m a girl. Tell them, Mommy!”, to adolescents and adult children who transition later in life.
Books For Children
A blue crayon mistakenly labeled as "red" suffers an identity crisis in this picture book by the New York Times–bestselling creator of My Heart Is Like a Zoo and It's an Orange Aardvark! Funny, insightful, and colorful, Red: A Crayon's Story, by Michael Hall, is about being true to your inner self and following your own path despite obstacles that may come your way. Red will appeal to fans of Lois Ehlert, Eric Carle, and The Day the Crayons Quit, and makes a great gift for readers of any age!
The story of a transgender child based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, who has become a spokesperson for transkids everywhere.
"This is an essential tool for parents and teachers to share with children whether those kids identify as trans or not. I wish I had had a book like this when I was a kid struggling with gender identity questions. I found it deeply moving in its simplicity and honesty."—Laverne Cox
Dyson loves pink, sparkly things. Sometimes he wears dresses. Sometimes he wears jeans. He likes to wear his princess tiara, even when climbing trees. He's a Princess Boy. Inspired by the author's son, and by her own initial struggles to understand, this is a heart-warming book about unconditional love and one remarkable family. It is also a call for tolerance and an end to bullying and judgments. The world is a brighter place when we accept everyone for who they are.