Having your child come out to you as transgender can bring up complex and challenging emotions.
1. Listen to them.
Let your adolescent know that you are there to listen and support them, and make sure they feel heard and validated. Approach them with curiosity rather than criticism, even if you do not agree with them. It’s likely they have thought long and hard before coming to you, and it’s not an easy conversation for them to start. Remember they are not coming to your to ask for your permission or approval, they are telling you who they are.
2. Respect their identity.
Respect your adolescent's gender identity, even if it's different from what you expected or are comfortable with. Practise using the pronouns and name that they ask you to use, and correct yourself when you slip up.
3. Provide a safe and supportive environment.
Create a safe and supportive environment for your adolescent, both at home and in public settings. Discuss with your adolescent how you can best support them by speaking to their school, workplace, friends and family members.
4. Educate yourself about transgender issues.
Educate yourself about the challenges and experiences of transgender people so you can better understand what your adolescent is going through.
5. Seek professional support for your child.
If your adolescent is struggling with their gender identity, seek professional help from a therapist or other qualified mental health professional.
6. Seek professional support for yourself.
It is ok to find yourself struggling with your child’s identity. It can be scary and confronting. You might fear for your child’s safety, mourn the child you thought you had, or worry that they will face discrimination throughout their life. Seek support for yourself from a therapist to work through your feelings and concerns around your child’s identity.
7. Don’t assume medical intervention is required.
Talk to your adolescent about what they want and educate yourself on what options are available. Your adolescent may not want any medical intervention, or may be wanting to explore options. Medical consultations can be had without any commitment to treatments.
8. Advocate for their rights.
Advocate for your adolescent's rights and make sure they have access to appropriate healthcare, education, and other resources. There is a lot of stigma around being transgender and your adolescent may experience rejection, bullying, discrimination or even abuse. They need you in their corner.
8. Connect with other transgender youth and families.
Connect with other families with transgender youth or seek out support groups and communities where your adolescent can connect with other trans youth.