Parents & (Chosen) Family

Dealing with you own feelings and thoughts on the topic of trans

If you have found your way here, the topic of trans is probably no longer completely new to you. Maybe you have already looked around a bit, browsed through a book, internet article or personal report. Often, the first step to developing a better understanding is to search with an open heart for sources and information that are supportive of your child’s search for identity.

At the same time, it is important to leave room for your own feelings and thoughts, both positive and negative. Many parents who are new to this topic often feel that they are left alone, as schools and kindergartens as well as medical professionals are not always welcoming when they encounter trans and non-binary children. And what if you are faced with a lack of understanding and ignorance in your own family? Don’t give up! There are many services and support structures that can help you to keep a clear head.

Every Case is Different

Dealing with this “newly” emerging self-image of your child can sometimes be a bit bumpy. However, make sure to take your child seriously and trust that they know best when it comes to their own perception about themselves. Often parents hold on to an image they have had of their child, perhaps since before birth, and find it difficult to let go. It can be enormously helpful to get in touch with other parents of trans and non-binary children or to read accounts of their experiences to get an idea of what your own personal process might look like.

“How could it be possible that I might lose my own daughter? This thought frightened me to no end, I didn’t want to lose my DAUGHTER. I did not want to lose this unhappy, deeply depressed and aggressive daughter. I would never be able to stand it. That’s what I thought. But what did my child think?”
Personal account by Mama Claudia

“I’m afraid to make a mistake.”

The moment you take the step to support your child, things are usually looking up. And this holds true even if you don’t always do everything right. Your child understands your good intentions. Do not blame yourself. This also goes for past thoughts or incidents.

“What if this is just a phase?”

You may have doubts about whether you should leave it up to your child to know what’s best for them. You will encounter this question probably more often than you’d like, privately as well as in public. But the point remains: even if you cannot comprehend how or why your child “suddenly” thinks they know they are trans or non-binary – these kinds of decisions typically take a long time of inner reflection and decision-making beforehand.

Try to understand that your child has thought about their identity much longer than you were aware of. Your child will only feel safe to open up in a safe environment. Trust your child, once they are ready to let you in on their journey.

“He would like for everything to speed up, but he also understands that everything takes its own sweet time. He has grown into a strong personality over the last year and has put the insecurity, the shyness, the self-isolation behind him. His school performance is stable, which gives us a great sense of confidence for the future.”
Report of parents of a 16-year-old trans boy

A relationship offering

Try to understand your child’s candour about everything related to trans identity towards you as a beautiful offer to get in contact with each other, even if you put it off as a whim or a form of rebellion. It is, in fact, a very personal insight that your child is willing to share with you. 

Learn to value positive feelings, too

“‘Mom, I don't care what the other kids think, I'll wear what I want.’ I accepted and admired my child for her great courage. And I continue to do so every day. I cannot and will not protect her from what is nothing less than her own self.”
Personal report by Susanne K.

Even though it may take some time, maybe even a few years, positive thoughts and feelings are of course part of every process. Because if you accept your child as they are with all the different facets of their personality, it will always end well. Feelings of joy that your child is now doing much better, is suddenly much more self-confident, feelings of gratitude that your child keeps confiding in you with very intimate and personal things, should not be forgotten. Be aware of these feelings and nurture them. It is important to be proud of your child, who wants to show their true self to the world with strength and courage.

Where can I find support?

Keep reading and researching. Talk to good friends who you can trust and who are not directly involved. But be careful not to invade your child’s privacy. If you cannot talk to friends or family, since you would out your child without previous consent, try to get in touch with self-help groups or counselling specialised to help family members of trans children.