When my child first told me he was transgender, I had so many questions going through my mind. I didn’t know where to start looking for answers. I put together this transgender F.A.Q. to help provide the basic information a parent needs to start understanding their transgender child.
You may be thinking this just may be a phase that your child is going through and that they will outgrow it. It’s possible, but not likely. Only time will tell.
The concept of insistence, consistence and persistence will help to determine if your child is truly transgender. The longer and more insistently your child has identified as their preferred gender, the easier it becomes for you to know.
The mental well-being, self-esteem, and overall health of a child relies heavily on receiving love, support and compassion from parents regardless of the outcome. Depending on the age of your child, you may not know the answer for a long time.
Is my child’s life going to be more difficult?
Yes and no. Your child’s life has probably already been difficult in many ways, such as being teased or bullied, feeling different from their peers and experiencing social isolation. But no, your child’s life will not be more difficult.
Many trans people report feeling more comfortable, confident, and happy as they find an identity that fits with who they truly are. Life is much more difficult and stressful pretending to be someone you’re not. If your child felt they could live happily with the way things were, they would.
The greatest outcome is that the process of transition typically resolves a lot of the distress transgender children feel. Thus, many trans children and youth go on to live happy, fulfilling lives.
How do I tell my family and friends?
This is a highly personal decision. Some people write a letter to family and friends informing them of their transgender child’s transition. Some prefer personal conversations.
Whichever method you prefer, it’s important to let them know what has been happening while providing them with as much information as possible. Then give them time to absorb the information and adjust.
Do not expect people to accept this within one or two conversations. It took you time to process the information and it will also take them time. Time and patience are an integral part in the transition.
What is transition?
Transition means many things to many people. For some transition begins socially, changing their name and pronouns. It can also involve changing the way they dress and otherwise present their gender using various aids to minimize or enhance different areas of the body.
Some people go through the legal process of a name change. Some begin hormones or hormone blockers. Some have a goal of sex reassignment surgery.
Every transgender person has their own preferences and their own choices to make. There is no prescribed checklist that has to be followed to transition.
There are 3 types of hormones available for transgender children.
For pre-pubescent children, hormone blockers are available which delay the onset of puberty and prevent the development of secondary sex characteristics. These hormones are beneficial because they allow extra time for your child to explore their gender before making any big decisions. They also free your child from the stress and fear of further physical development.
Hormone blockers have few long-term effects. Once the child stops taking the hormones, the body’s natural hormones kick in and continue normal sexual development.
Two types of cross-sex hormones are also available. Rather than block a hormone, they introduce a hormone in much greater amounts than naturally exist in the body. Transgender males are offered testosterone. Transgender females are offered estrogen, frequently with a testosterone blocker.
Cross-sex hormones are only partially reversible in their effects. Some effects are reversed when people stop taking them, but some are permanent, even if people stop taking them.
How can I support my child to express their preferred gender without medical intervention?
There are many products available to help your transgender child feel more comfortable without medical intervention. These products are particularly useful for those transgender children who are too young for hormone blockers or hormone supplements or those who are unable to take them for some reason.
For transgender females, the following options are available:
• Padded bras
• Breast prosthetics
• Gaffs or underwear to minimize
• Padded underwear to enhance curves
• Specialized swimwear
For transgender males, the following options are available:
• Chest Binders
• Corsets (some have the added bonus of a six-pack)
• Packers (penis prosthetics)
• Stand to pee underwear and devices
• Specialized swimwear
What if my child wants sex reassignment surgery?
First, don’t panic. Not all transgender people are interested in surgery. For those who are, there are very few doctors who will accept a patient under the age of 18 for sex reassignment surgery. Furthermore, any reputable doctor will expect the patient to live as their preferred gender for a minimum of a year.
You have time. Time to discuss. Time to decide. Time to plan.
What will my transgender child’s dating life be like?
Regardless of gender or sexual orientation, dating is a concern for all parents. We all hope that we have raised our child with sufficient self-esteem and self-confidence to make wise choices in whom they choose to date.
We also hope we have instilled good decision making skills and values in terms of appropriate sexual activity. It’s important that your child is comfortable enough with their own identity to make good relationship decisions and avoid dangerous situations.
What if my child wants marriage and children?
Your child will be able to build loving, long-lasting, and honest relationships if they are comfortable with who they are, just as in any other relationship. There are many options for infertile couples to have children, including:
- Artificial Insemination
- Donor Sperm
- Donor Eggs
- Donor Embryos
With your support and the support of their partner, friends and extended family, the answer to this question is ultimately up to your child.
Personally, I don’t care if my child loves a boy or a girl (trans or otherwise). I just want him to be with someone who is good and kind and treats him well. I want him to have a good partner. I want him to love and be loved.
If you have any other questions you would like to see added to this transgender F.A.Q. for parents, please contact us and we’ll be happy to incorporate them into this page.