Making Things Easier for the Next One...
New pronouns. New name (one you didn't pick out this time). New clothes. New everything, really. What are you supposed to do now? Who do you tell? Who don't you tell? Do you have any say in this? There are so many questions. Hopefully, we can help.
Getting Our Ducks in a Row
When you find out you are the parent of someone who is transgender, you will react. The hope is, armed with information, you will think before speaking (we hope you've had an inkling somewhere that "something" is going on with your son/daughter, although that might not be true in your case). Here are our suggestions for making the best of things at the beginning.
- Remain calm. That's the first thing.
- Don't say ANYTHING you will regret. That's number two.
After that, the best advice is to love first, listen second, and learn from the first two.
It Really Is The Same Person
While the clothing, name, and pronouns may change, THIS IS STILL YOUR CHILD. The one you cared for all these years. This is your dear one - whom you have seen through all of the scrapes and perils and joys and wonders of life. This is who you may have helped more times than you can count, to have prayed for and worried over. This is the one who made you proud every moment, or maybe they tweaked your every nerve from time-to-time!
How many times have you said "I'll love you, no matter what" to someone? Did you mean it? Really mean it? It's not always a practice run - sometimes, we have to actually follow-through! This is your "no matter what" moment. Will you face it with love and gentleness?
Yes, A Grieving Process Happens
Somewhere in the midst of transitioning, parents do often feel like they "lost" their child. The truth is, people who have actually lost a child too soon - those who are no longer earth-bound - they will say to you "But, you can still hug your child. I can't." They are quite right.
We state emphatically that we know this grieving process is not the same, but we have no other context of life to compare it to, so we hope the benefit of the doubt is given and understood. You might start grieving over questions such as:
- I always imagined her Dad walking her down the aisle. Now what?
- What do we do with the pictures of him all over the house?
- How do I parent a girl? I have no background in this now!
- Why didn't I figure this out a long time ago? What kind of parent doesn't see this?
- What do I do with the anger I feel towards all those who have cast my child aside since coming out as transgender?
Doubtless you can add a long string of other questions. We will, as parents, grieve for what we dreamed of for so many years. It's a natural thing to do. Don't beat yourself up. Just do whatever you can to throw those feelings and emotions into making life new! Find ways to take what you thought would happen and re-imagine how it will be from now on.
Believe it or not...one day, you really will realize it all worked out just as it should have. Just stay in the picture, love your child or family member unconditionally, and involve yourself in learning more about how to educate others. You may be surprised at how your example of loving becomes the one people want in their lives, too.
See our Frequently Asked Questions first. If you have a question or issue, please feel free to contact us so that we can help, and we will include them in the list as well. Your name will be anonymous. Simply send an email to:
Take time to privately share your feelings with your spouse, partner, or very close friend. If you have a vulnerable son or daughter, don't add to their troubles by sharing your personal "unfulfilled dreams." They have been fighting internally all this time and need to focus on their own issues. They will possibly lose friends and will be dealing with a lot of physical and personal changes. What parents/family go through is secondary, but important. Just be kind and don't burden your trans son or daughter with your own stuff.
What do we mean by that? Well, you may be disappointed when you think of all the "could have been" moments YOU planned or expected for your child. Walking a daughter down the aisle, for example.
Adding personal guilt to your child for "robbing you" of a pleasure you dreamed of is not a loving response. It may be human, but it is also counterproductive.