Why it’s important to educate parents of transgendered children
Posted by mandyf on July 29, 2011
It is essential to the health of a transgender child as well as to their physical safety that their parents be educated on all the issues that surround the life of their trans child. The first cardinal rule of parenting a transgender child is to remember that this is something important to them ad they do take it very seriously so you should as well. It is no secret that being a transgender person is difficult, but the period of life when a transgender person is still a child or teen is even more complicated, therefore it takes extra effort on the part of the parents to do all they can to provide their child with the resources they need.
The parents of transgeneder children who take the time and put in the effort to educate themselves as to what transgenderism is and is not greatly increase the odds that their child will develop into a well adjusted adult. They understand the necessity of providing their child with the proper medical care, that this is not just a phase the child is going through, and they are well armed with all they need to face any challenge that arises. There will be many challenges which fall under the umbrellas of medical, social, and in far too many cases the legal arena as well. A parent educated on all this as early as possible is rarely caught off guard when these situations must be faced.
Transgender children do require special care. They need parents that understand what their child is going through is okay, that this is a part of natures design. They don’t punish their children for expressing who they are. Transgender persons that have committed suicide have often intimated to friends, counselors, or through their parting words that having an unsupportive family was a major reason why they chose to end their life. How parents treat their children does matter, and kids do remember hurtful things. In some cases transgender children that have parents whom are uneducated on the topic are given so much negative feedback for expressing them self that they feel unwanted and unloved. They begin repressing something so basic as individual identity that eventually in most cases they wind up dealing with actual serious problems regarding their mental and emotional health. The trans children of parents educated on this tend to have fewer emotional issues growing up.
It is further important parents understand transgenderism because under that umbrella term their are variations. The child may develop to feel that their sexual development is completely wrong for them and fall under the transsexual category. They may feel in between desiring some physical modification but not all, or it is wholly possible the child is emotionally transgender in which they identify to the male and female within them self, but neither strongly enough to pursue any physical modification, but rather the freedom to express each. By understanding the many variations of transgenderism a parent will not push a child towards a path that is not right for them. They will allow the child to explore them self and make their own choice when they are ready, not when someone else tells them they are.
An educated parent understands the necessity of not only providing the child with the increased medical care they will need, but the proper medical care. Not all therapists are created equal. There are gender therapists who deal specifically with this issue and are the best choice to help not just the child, but the family as a whole understand what the child is going through. This in no way means other therapists and psychiatrists are unqualified in the least, it simply means a parent that does their homework will know this when the time arises and be prepared with the best options available.
Furthermore depending on what the child decides is the correct path for them the administration of hormone blockers may begin before puberty so that cycle may be delayed long enough for the child to have the best possible odds of developing a a more male or female body as is their preference. By doing this a transgirl will not be saddled with large hands, feet, developing male styled muscle growth, or a drastically deepened voice. In a transboy menstruation and the development of female secondary sex characteristics like breasts may be delayed. An educated parent will understand the reasons for this, how traumatic puberty is for most transgender persons, and the importance of the necessary blood work, administration of their medication, and increased need for physical checkups and plan accordingly.
The prepared parent will be ready for the emotional care of the child at home when the inevitable teasing begins. In general, the earlier the child identifies their gender and is allowed to express it, the earlier this ends. It will not end forever though as often it will resurface at some point if the family remains in the same location. Therefore the educated parent understands that at some point perhaps moving where the child starts fresh with new people unaware of their past is a viable and perhaps necessary option to ensuring their child has better odds for healthy development. They will help their child prepare for any conflicts so they whether confrontation be verbal or physical, they know what they need to do to maintain their safety as best as possible.
The knowledgeable parent realizes that there are going to be certain legal challenges the child may face and does everything they can, in advance when possible, to be prepared. They allow the child to choose the name that fits them, and understand this is for the child’s benefit and safety. A boy named Sue is cute in a song, in real life a boy named Sue may be a terrible cross to bear. The parents realize that the child may have many obstacles at school ranging from where they use the bathroom, what locker room they change in, what sports or clubs they may join, and even at times what clothes they may wear. Not all schools or employers are tolerant and may raise challenges even when contrary to the law in states which have protections for the transgender. A parent that understands all of this in advance greatly increase the odds a child will be able to socially integrate them self.
Most of all the parents of transgender children need to be educated so they understand their child as best as they possibly can. They understand their child did not choose to be born this way. They understand their child doesn’t need special treatment or undeserved punishment, but rather to be treated as their siblings or any other child would. They reward and punish as appropriate. They love unconditionally and show no shame in their child being transgender because they understand there is no reason for it. Most of all, a parent who is educated on the issues is the best ally and support system a transgender child has in the world. They will need all they can get, but none will ever be so important as their parents, they hold the child’s future in their hands. It is therefore their responsibility to learn all they can, just as if their child were born with any other condition.