Advice to parents

If your child says they are transgender-

Hello. I am trans. I have transitioned and not reverted, so I feel transition is an option which may improve someone’s life. I won’t say it is the answer to all problems. I am not a parent, and I don’t know what you are going through. But I want to give a friendly perspective. I understand if you fear the thought of your child transitioning, and I agree that it may be wrong for them. If it is wrong for them, you want to protect them from the harm it could do, and so do I. But how?

Say your teenager objects when you call them your daughter. (Do you mind if I use neutral pronouns?) They want to bind their breasts and use a male name. They want to take hormones, and have surgery. Don’t worry too much yet. Getting surgery is a long road. They can change their mind right until the moment the anaesthetist starts the gas. What matters is what they do today. You need to know what they are doing.

My advice is to support your child’s decision. That means they can’t rely on you to protect them from it: if transition scares them, they have to protect themself. If you treat them like an adult you force them to behave like one. If you are cautiously supportive they will talk to you. They won’t transition as an act of teenage rebellion, and regret it later, because you don’t give them something to rebel against. You might persuade them not to get hormones over the internet- you don’t know what is in those pills- but seek proper medical evaluation.

If your child wants to bind their breasts, buy them a binder. The advantage of this is that it confronts the child with the reality of their decision. It is like a very tight sports bra: it does not do permanent damage, but is uncomfortable. If your child wants to transition to expressing female, you might even suggest facial electrolysis. That is painful, and takes a long time before the beard is significantly damaged.

Use of a different name is not much more extreme than the ordinary teenage exploration of their world, testing boundaries, discovering their feelings. Unless unhealthily constrained, teenagers play with identities and responses to find what works for them. Teenagers have always shocked parents. Let them play. You can’t protect them forever.

Please consider the possibility that transition is right for them. Of course it is completely wrong for most people. They will be unable to have children. They might never pass completely as the expressed gender. You can discuss these disadvantages with them calmly and without fighting, if you admit the possibility that transition might be right for them.

Of course girls should be supported if they are natural leaders or if they want to study engineering. Not every girl who kicks a ball or climbs a tree is a trans boy. Where it does not fit their personality, boys should be protected from macho culture- they can be feminine men. But for a tiny minority, transition is right. You do not want them to be miserable and directionless in their twenties, then transition in their thirties, and find it was right for them all along.

Giorgione, Judith with the head of Holofernes

15 thoughts on “Advice to parents

    • I post on 4thwavenow tomorrow, and another blog a commenter showed me, which is on the same lines. A commenter there said excluding from toilets is not about us, it is about her right to express her feelings.

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  1. I know today’s CBC is disagreeing but I can’t. What you’ve written is excellent and eloquent. I’m not a parent, I’m not sure if I will be, but this post really helped with my ideas. My parents had the same attitude with a lot of my decisions (nothing along these lines though) they felt that if they didn’t disagree I’d give it up faster, and it worked really well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • -I want to go swimming in the loch.
      -It’s too cold.
      -I want to go swimming in the loch.

      So I find myself standing, shivering, on stones looking at grey water. Um. It’s different from “I want to have my breasts cut off” but having top-surgery is considerably more difficult.

      What about tattoos??

      Liked by 2 people

      • Tattoos are another thing my parents don’t have much of a care about. I have two (getting my third Saturday). When I got my first one I didn’t think my parents would be happy but they didn’t really care. I’ve never been an a ‘I want to have my junk cut off’ scenario, but I know that if I had they would’ve supported me the way you suggest in your post. My uncle’s been with his (now) husband since before (or shortly after) I was born and his gayness was known before then and neither my mum (his sister) or my grandparents treated him any differently. I think the thing is, yes there is a risk that it’s teenage rebellion or a ‘phase’, but chances are its not. And do you really want to be another person siding against your kid/sibling/family member/friend’s happiness? If the answer’s yes then you’re kind of a douche.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s funny that you mention tattoos, because I got one a couple years before I transitioned. I grew up in a very, VERY repressive house and actually really wanted to be seen as good, not a typical rebellious teen. But I did like how tattoos and hair dye looked on other people. Even though I didn’t stick with that look, getting a tattoo was a way of reclaiming my body as something I needed to be comfortable in, rather than something that others had to be comfortable with.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you.

      And- it works if it is just a phase, too. I am not saying, Come on in, the water’s lovely! The adjustment is minor, and everyone will love you for it! I am saying parents should maintain communication, and make sure they can be heard; and not worry about what might happen in two years’ time, just about what the child can do today.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Absolutely. It’s about damage limitation too, all round. For the children and ultimately the adults they will become, and also for the parents, who, if they consider and understand that it isn’t black and white human development, will be happier in themselves and help their offspring to grow with care.

        Esme upon the Cloud

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sensible advice that sits well, and the most important thing a parent can do is support, support, support – for that they often need to lock away from sight their own ideals or expectations and just consider the “child” …

    Like

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