What is imposter syndrome and how does it affect parenting? And most importantly, why do I feel like a fraud as the parent of a transgender child? Imposter syndrome parenting isn’t anything new and it is not isolated to parenting either.
Harvard Business Review defines imposter syndrome as, “doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud.” In the context of their article, they a specifically talking about women in the workplace. In my life, I feel like I don’t deserve to be in the room when sharing my lived experience. I fear that people won’t like me, and will accuse me of being performative or of saying the wrong thing. It is hard. So, how do we overcome this imposter syndrome parenting? Let’s dig deeper.
Until nearly eight years ago, I did not know anyone identifying as trans, non-binary, or gender diverse. I was a fish out of water for the first time. We all have awkward moments in our lives. Whether it’s being the new person at school, starting a new job, or going to a party where we only know one person. Each time we walk into a new situation and are vulnerable to the group, we open ourselves to being rejected. When you are a cisgender, heterosexual person and you embark on being the parent of a trans child, you are about to understand exactly how difficult it is to assimilate in inclusive spaces.
In his book, Pedagogy of The Oppressed, Paulo Freire describes the relationship between oppressors and the oppressed. I received a book from a friend following a particularly difficult conversation with a group of lgbtq+ community members. Having read this book several times, I believe it offers insight into the precarious position parent advocates of transgender children face. Our laser-focused drive for change, desire for safety, and thirst for understanding make people react. And this can really cause imposter syndrome parenting. Make us question ourselves and our place in this space.
To clarify, many spaces I have entered have been welcoming. I have been grateful for those who have offered me grace and kindly corrected my mistakes. Acknowledging the fact that I am struggling as the parent of a transgender child, does not detract from the struggle of transgender people. Being transgender, non-binary or gender-diverse is hard in 2023.
It is also hard being the parent of a transgender little person and desperately grasping for understanding and change. As a parent who wants to learn from the transgender community, it is hard to walk into conversations with open ears and heart and feel rejection. To be clear, these aren’t my white woman tears. It is just my reality, of my imposter syndrome as the parent of a transgender child.
So friends, have you experienced imposter syndrome parenting? What about in other spaces in your life? If so, let this be an encouragement to us all. Everyone feels this way sometimes and it is NORMAL. And if we are confident in our space, let us be the first to look around the room and find the people who might not be.