Recently, my child came out as trans and I did not believe him at first. I didn’t tell him that, and in fact I simply told him that I would support him totally – but secretly, I could not believe it. I just did not believe that the person I had loved for 15 years as my daughter was actually my son. Even though I am trans myself.
The thing was, my son did not tick off all the boxes that I (in my arrogance) have set down as being “true demarcators of trans”. He was not a tomboy, for example. And he loved his long hair (until he shaved it all off last year). Even now, my new son wears nail polish and follows boy bands. My new son has had only female friends.
But so what! There are a whole lot of gender non-conforming cis boys out there – and because they had the good fortune to be born with tiny testicles and penis, none of us ever questions whether they are “real boys.”
I came across this wonderful post that basically says:
A person’s identity is their own to decide.
If someone tells you they are a “he”, a “she”, a “they” (which some genderqueer people opt for), use that pronoun. Some people might even refer to themselves as an “it”, but definitely avoid this unless a person has specifically asked. You do not decide a person’s identity, they do, both because it’s their right and because they are the only people that can ever truly know. Respect their wishes without question.
I love this. It gives me my whole response to my son without question or debate. I will respect him as he, because no one but HE can ever TRULY know who he is. So I will respect his wishes and his identity without question. Especially since I have read that some trans kids feel pressured to act stereotypically, so that people will accept their gender.
Hell, wasn’t that what I wanted (but didn’t get)? I was very female for periods of my life. It was only me who knew I was a man. I had to convince the rest of the world, one hard step at a time.My mother NEVER believed or supported me. I had to become the man I am now without any parental support. I will not put my son through that!
My message to parents of trans people out there is simple. Look inside your own head. Do YOU know whether you are male or female? I am guessing your answer will be “YES!” Are you completely certain about your answer? I am guessing your answer will be “YES!”
Well then … respect your child enough to believe that he or she is just as clear and certain about his or her gender as you are. RESPECT that knowledge as much as you respect your own knowledge about your own gender. You don’t start every day wondering if you should act as a man or a woman. You know what you are, and you act accordingly. Your child knows who he or she is, so respect that, and treat him or her as the boy or girl they know themselves to be.
Bear in mind that the rate of suicide among transgendered people of all ages is far higher than the average. Even worst, 51% of trans kids who are not accepted by their parents (or other family members) will attempt suicide. Do you really want to risk a better than odds chance that your beloved child will try to kill themselves? If you reject your daughter who is becoming a son, you may be choosing a dead daughter over a live son. That’s an insane choice, in my opinion. I love my son with all my heart, and would never do anything to jeopardize him. If that means supporting him in a gender transition then – hell yes – I am on board!
It’s comes down to three simple things: faith in your child’s self-knowledge, hope for a brighter future for your child, and love for your child – enough love to support him or her in all their choices. Although raised in a Christian home, I am not a practicing Christian. However, I know my Biblical verses, so I know that the Bible does have a great verse that sums this up very neatly:
Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13.13)
Just love your child .. and show it by supporting who he or she actually is – even if this is not who you want them to be.
Books that May Help Transgendered Teens
I found two great books that I have ordered for my son.
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out – described as a “groundbreaking work of LGBT literature that takes an honest look at the life, love, and struggles of transgender teens”. The link below will allow you to look inside the book and check out the table of contents.
I also ordered The Gender Quest Workbook: A Guide for Teens and Young Adults Exploring Gender Identity.
My son is very smart, and I believe these books will help him find a way to get through. We all know that adolescence is the hardest time of most people’s lives – and I know from experience that going through adolescence as a transgendered teen can be a truly horrible thing.
As parents, let’s help our transgendered teens as much as we possibly can.
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