Parents of children who identify as other than their gender at birth might wonder if they should talk to other parents about their child’s transition. For example, parents might worry about how other parents will feel if a child born as a boy is spending time alone with their girl, and vice versa. In addition, parents of kids identifying as gender-fluid, trans, or of another identity might worry about their kids being shunned if other parents feel they are dishonest about their child’s gender.
Unfortunately, kids in the LGBTQA+ community face a negative stigma that other kids do not. Other parents might hold damaging preconceptions and prejudices about their child. Often, these parents do not accept that children can make decisions regarding their gender identity. They might believe that kids can only be either male or female and must identify as their gender at birth. They might falsely think that trans or gender-fluid kids are seeking attention or otherwise mentally disturbed.
Why Do Other Parent’s Opinions Concern Us?
We accept and love our children unconditionally, no matter who they are. Our child might identify as male one day, then female the next as they attempt to discover which gender feels right to them. Our child might be in the beginning stages of transitioning—changing their name, clothing, or even beginning hormone therapy. None of these things are problematic or a sign that a mental illness or other defect is present. Instead, our children are discovering—and becoming—who they are.
The issues surrounding the LGBTQA+ community often revolve around acceptance by other people. Belonging and feeling accepted is crucial to us as human beings. We are social animals and thrive when we have a community to feel safe within. Therefore, mental health and addiction issues within the LGBTQA+ community are not a direct result of their gender or sexual orientation. Instead, depression, anxiety, trauma, and addiction are due to a lack of understanding and acceptance.
The opinions of other parents concern parents of gender-fluid and trans kids because parents can spread misinformation and prejudices to their kids, causing further hostilities towards our kids. Other parents might cut our kids off from friendships or further ostracize our children. So, should we be open and up-front about our child’s gender at birth?
Letting Our Kids Navigate the Social Landscape
As parents, we want to be sure that we are protecting our kids. However, parents of kids in the LGBTQA+ community might feel even more vulnerable to protect their children in a world that may or may not accept them based solely on who they are. As such, we need to allow our kids to take the lead on approaching social situations and decide what they are comfortable with. After all, our kids are the ones who understand their thoughts and feelings best.
Children may choose to tell their friends about their journey in self-discovery and their gender at birth. They might also decide to identify only as the gender that feels right at that time. As kids transition, they might feel more like a boy or girl one day than the next. They might feel like both at the same time and refer to themselves as “they.” Kids experiencing these transitions might not feel that their gender at birth is relevant to their identity. As far as they are concerned, they have always felt that their assigned gender never felt “right.”
Being an Ally
Parents of kids transitioning in gender or fluctuating between identities do not need to understand what is occurring. Some parents might question their kids about their identity, nearly demanding an explanation or why they feel this way. They do not need to explain themselves to us. What they need is for us to accept them.
People often believe that to accept others, they need first to understand them. When meeting someone transitioning, they might not be open to their identity because they “don’t get it.” Understanding is NOT a prerequisite to acceptance. Instead, accepting our kids for who they are will lead to understanding their experiences.
Being an ally to our kids means accepting them and overcoming our thoughts that we need to understand everything first. We can let our kids explain their experiences to us. They can teach us about what they are going through and how they feel about their gender identity. Allying ourselves with kids in the LGBTQA+ community means that we ask them to teach us about who they are and what we can do to support them.
Parents of children transitioning might wonder if they should tell other parents about their child’s gender identity. Do other parents need to know about our child’s gender at birth? Are we dishonest if we do not talk to our kid’s friend’s parents about our child’s transition? What if they find out anyway and then cut my kid off from their friendships? These are questions that parents of kids in the LGBTQA+ community might ask themselves as they want to support their children and also protect them from harm from others. We need to allow our children to decide how they tell their story to others. Though our concern is about their safety and emotional well-being, accepting them for who they are and learning from them can be the best way to ally with our kids as they transition. Kids in the LGBTQA+ community are at a higher risk of addiction and mental health challenges due to negative stigma and a lack of acceptance. Call Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center today at (303) 443-3343.