It’s International Transgender Day of Visibility today and so I thought I’d give some top tips to parents of trans kids. Visibility is really important. It inspires people, offers support and helps change attitudes in society. Transgender people still experience shocking rates of violence and discrimination, especially trans women of colour. Transgender day of visibility is a day to show your support for the trans community and fight transphobia.
“You can search through the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Gautama Buddha
Here’s my top tips for parents of trans kids… You’re welcome 🙂
- So, your kid tells you they are trans. Don’t freak out. Your kid is going to be in bits right now. Pull yourself up to your full adult height and get yourself on the internet to find your nearest gender doctor. There will be one. If you cant find one then hit me up with a message and I will find you one. Do not say “Are you sure?”. Say, “This sounds like you are going through a lot at the moment, let me help you as much as I can with that. I love you and it’s going to be okay” … Do say this. Then get on the internet.
- Don’t worry for a second about anyone else at this stage. Your extended family don’t need to know anything at the moment and sometimes peoples reactions before you’ve sorted out your own might be a negative impact on this situation. Just think you and your kid right now. If you are going to speak to anyone then talk to your kid, they might want to speak for themselves first. This ain’t your party.
- Don’t misgender your kid. Like ever. Don’t do it. It’s an act of violence. And if you do.. apologise.
- Don’t use your kids dead name (that’s the one you gave them at birth), It’s not their name anymore. It is deeply hurtful to use someones dead name. If someone asks you at some stage what their name was, don’t tell them, and explain why you won’t… basically it’s a shitty thing to do.
- Not everything is about being trans. People have shitty days and its nothing to do with the trans. It’s just life. Remember that your kid isn’t just trans, they might be smart, funny, an ace athlete, an animal lover or a whole host of other things. They ain’t just trans. Remind them of all the other beautiful things about them too.
- Sometimes your kid might be difficult. Maybe in the teens. They might push some boundaries. Be there like the Rock Steady Crew. Plant those adult feet on the ground and stay with them. They might end up sobbing in your arms and saying it is so shit. Let that happen. Sometimes things are shit. Don’t be tempted to say that everything is okay. Sometimes it’s not. Hold that kid and let them be acknowledged. I can’t stress that enough, acknowledge your kids pain, zip your lips and don’t say what you’re feeling. Then go to the store and buy all the sweeties and crisps and cheese and hang out with them. Or go and eat Thai food in the park. Just be there. This is a gift, trust me.
- Don’t make it about you, because it’s not. This is not your journey, not your identity. It’s theirs. It belongs to them. You will have some sort of journey to go through yourself for sure but it’s really important to do your job. The solid supportive parenting role. Please don’t be hysterical or make it all about you, I’ve seen this so often and it must be shit for the trans kid. Stay in your role. But DO go and seek counselling for yourself if you are finding it hard. There is nothing wrong with doing that and it could prove to be really helpful if you need it.
- Do read lots about it but avoid right wing Christian sites 😉 There are a heap of educational resources on the internet. Don’t go on about it heaps though, like you know everything, you’ll have a kid with a face like a smacked arse 🙂 Do celebrate the happiness!!!! Gawd do!!!! Don’t get caught up in the doom and gloom and negative stories around transgender issues all the time. These stories are so important and we should pay attention to them, but it is also really important to see the positive. YUP.
- Do take your kid shopping for clothes they want, or to the hairdresser. Do cut all the labels out of the clothes that have the dead name on, do scrub their name off their lunch box. Do make an appointment with your kids school and talk to the principle about it and their teachers. Do try and get their ID changed when you are able to.
- Just love your kid. They also might be non binary, have a read about that. Non binary is just as valid.
And finally, DO celebrate this amazing remarkable human being you have brought into the world. Do stand up and speak out and be the proud parent of a trans kid. Do challenge people who may have ignorant ideas, do challenge hate speech, do let your kid know that they are the ‘shit’ and do help your kid to thrive.
As Lavern Cox said,
“It is revolutionary for any trans person to choose to be seen and visible in a world that tells us we should not exist”.
I am the proud parent of a trans kid. My kid is totally the ‘shit’ and my kid is thriving.