Will my transgender child change their mind?
Seriously, stop talking. Yes, you read that right. As cis, white, privileged people, we talk…a LOT. We have been encouraged from a very young age to raise our hands and are praised for answering. We engrain that we must come up with solutions; we know the right way. I am here to tell you that when your transgender, non-binary, or gender-fluid kid is talking, seriously, stop talking.
I have been guilty of talking over people from marginalized communities and then have gotten my feelings way hurt because I was put in my place. For the first time in history, black and brown people have found their voice and are asserting themselves. We should be listening. Oppressing a person’s point of view or identity is very easy for those in a position of power. We are white; we are likely the majority in the room. If you are talking, you are missing valuable perspective. The same goes for our transgender friends. When they are talking, seriously, close your pie hole.
When your five-year-old tells you who they are, listen. When your 25-year-old child tells you who they are, seriously, shut up and listen. You do not need to fix it; you do not need to problem solve, you need to accept the information and love them through it.
So, will my transgender child change their mind? Here are some thoughts.
Will my transgender child change their mind? This is just a phase. What will my _____ think (neighbors, friends, parents, siblings)? What if they don’t? A study conducted by the Journal of Pediatrics following 317 transgender youths from ages 3 to 12 found that five years after their initial transition, 94% were still living as their trans-identified gender. What about the other 6%? A small percentage re-transitioned, either re-identifying as their birth sex or identifying as non-binary; this most often happened before the age of 10.
Bottom line: when preserving face with your family or community supersedes your child’s needs, it is time to reevaluate priorities.
Is this a psychological problem? No. When my 5-year-old came to me, she did not have gender dysphoria. She simply stated who she was and was visibly more comfortable when we affirmed that identity. She was confused, “Mommy, why do they think I’m a boy?” Having watched this metamorphosis and parent three other children (younger and older than her), I can tell you that being transgender is not a psychological problem. Body dysphoria, depression, and other manifestations result from the transphobic, binary world they must traverse.
Did I do something to cause this? Again, no. You are not that powerful. Gender diversity exists throughout nature. Humans are arrogant to think that the complexities we see in nature do not apply to our lives; it is simply false. Embrace the beauty in seeing outside of the binary; we are all somewhere on a continuum of gender expression (how I present myself to the outside world), gender identity (how I see myself), and sex assigned at birth (male, female, other/intersex). Want to learn more? Visit here.
Does accepting my child’s identity mean we must have surgery or start hormones? No, at least not right away. Parents leading with unconditional love want to ensure they do what is best for their children. When my child came to me at age five, that meant simply loving her and affirming her identity. Medical intervention does not begin until children enter puberty (usually around 12 years old) and starts with blocking cross-sex hormones, a step that can be undone by discontinuing the medication. Surgical interventions are not even considered until the child is closer to adulthood. My advice: take a breath, gather reliable resources, and take baby steps. Posturing your parenting in a proactive rather than reactive stance will allow you time to pause before reacting to your child’s desires.
So, will my transgender child change their mind?
Again, stop talking. Listening with an open heart and unconditional love will lead you down a path of mutual respect with your child. Listening without the intent to respond will enable you to be a person your child trusts, and you will have more insight into their identity and lives. After all, that’s all any of us what, right? Unconditional love is the only path forward.