When teens confide that they are transgender or unsure of their gender identity, many parents are caught unsure how to offer their support. The role that parents play in teens’ ongoing journey to understand their own gender identity is important. If they do not get the support they need from their parents, they can suffer from depression and anxiety.
But when they are allowed to explore their gender in a non-stigmatizing way, it leads to teens feeling that they aren’t alone in this journey, especially when they are already the target of cruel comments or bullying by their peers at school.
Ways to Express Your Support for Your Transgender Teen
The most important thing parents can do to help their transgender teens is to listen, love, and support them – even more so if they are considering transitioning. This can be a long journey, and transition can take many forms, including social transition (e.g., name change, pronouns, clothing style) and medical transition (e.g., hormones, gender affirmation surgery). Throughout this process, children will learn more about themselves and parents will learn how to express their support for their children.
If you are a parent of a transgender teen considering transition surgery, here are my tips on how to express your support for your child during this time.
- Always respond with gentleness
It’s acceptable if you feel the urge to resist the news that your child is considering transition surgery. Most likely, behind this is a deep-rooted fear in you as a parent that your child will suffer difficulties because of this identity change. So, respond with gentleness and let your teen know that you are on his, her, or they’s side and you will figure out together how to move forward.
- Encourage exploration
When your child first expresses feelings that they may be transgender, give them the freedom to explore those emotions. If they want to change the way they dress or ask that you address him, her, or them with new pronouns, let them explore and have an open discussion to help them decide to consider this change.
- Allow yourself and the rest of your family time to transition as well
Your transgender teen is not the only person going through a big change. All other family members must also change their thinking and understanding. Take the time you need to process the situation and let your child know that you are making a real effort to use the correct pronouns or the new name, even if you occasionally forget.
- Get additional help from support groups and medical experts.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health is a very good source of information for your teen and your family to assist in this process. Transitioning is a long and complicated process, and it will be difficult to do on your own. Not only should you partner with support groups that can help your teen and yourself better understand the journey of gender reassignment, but also with medical experts who can provide you with more knowledge and guidance throughout the process. Also, remember the point at which your teen feels comfortable with the body that they are in which identifies as their gender is the time at which no additional interventions may be sought. That is mental health treatment and hormonal therapy alone may suffice or any form of gender affirmation surgery may be enough to enable your teen to transition and feel comfortable in their gender.
If you are considering transitioning and exploring your options for surgery, it is important to find a plastic surgeon who has experience with transgender teens, is empathetic to your struggles, and is committed to helping you along this long journey.
For over twenty-four years, I have been practicing medicine and specializing in the medical care of transgender patients and gender reassignment surgery. I’m passionate about helping transgender youth and their parents in Miami, FL explore their options for gender affirmation surgery with the utmost care and dedication to giving them the best experience possible. If you would like to know more about transgender surgery, schedule a consultation today or call at 786-627-4601.