Parents: Ways to Support Your Transgender Youth
One of the biggest questions I get from parents is regarding how they can support their transgender child. When a child comes out as transgender, it can be a confusing time for parents and you might feel as though you are getting an overwhelming amount of information. You might feel that you are doing everything wrong and have worries about how to best talk to your child. Many parents feel that they are unsure how to react, what to say and some report feeling fear for their child and if they will be accepted. Please know, you are not alone in these thoughts and fears! Thankfully, there are things you can do immediately as a parent to let your child know you support and love them.
In the last twenty years the research has grown as the transgender community becomes more visible. We know now how big the impact of a supportive community is on transgender youth. According to the Family Acceptance Project, “LGBTQ youth from highly rejecting families were more than 8 times as likely to try to take their own lives by the time they were young adults.” Those children who came from highly rejecting families also had a higher risk of illicit drug use and HIV infection. On the flip side, youth who are in families that are accepting and supportive experience higher self-esteem, are more likely to believe that they will live a full and productive life and are less likely to be depressed or consider suicide.
So, what can you do as parents to support your child? The following are a few easy things that make a huge difference in your kids’ lives.
- Always use your child’s preferred name and pronouns
- Ask that others use your child’s preferred name and pronouns
- Recognize your child’s bravery in coming out and verbalize that to them
- Learn what schools can do (and should be doing) to support your child and get involved to help advocate for your child.
- Help connect your child with transgender spaces, resources, allies, organizations etc. to help them build community.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but even the few things listed above will make a huge impact on your child. Remember, if you are not sure what to do or say, ASK! Allow your child to tell you what makes you feel comfortable.
The research in this blog came from https://familyproject.sfsu.edu/