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  • Writer's pictureWill Dempsey

How to Respond to a Child that Comes Out as Trans

When a child comes out as trans, it often feels like something coming out of left field. Chances are that when a child comes out as trans, it’s something they’ve been struggling with internally for a long time. Given the heavily politicized nature of being trans today, it may be a source of anxiety, fear, or even shame for a child. Understanding their feelings, finding the words to name them, and having the courage to voice them takes time. Accordingly, it’s important to approach this matter with care and respect.

In today’s post, we’ll explore how to respond to a child that comes out as trans.

Proceed Carefully

parent and child sitting on couch

Our first impulse when we receive news that shocks us is almost always emotional. Especially if you’re a parent to a child coming out as trans, you may immediately jump to a thousand worries about the future. Your mind might fill in the blanks about the future with fears about bullying by friends and other family members.

Instead of jumping to conclusions, remember to pause, take stock, and proceed with care. A revelation like this can naturally make you feel worried, upset, or overwhelmed. Give yourself time to process those feelings in a safe space, away from your child.

Be Compassionate

Coming out is a scary process. It’s a significant risk, and a leap of faith; it comes with the possibility for conflict, rejection, and heartache. Accordingly, it’s critical for parents and caregivers to handle this process with care. Set aside your own feelings and focus on helping the child to feel safe, secure, and understood.

  • Express gratitude for their trust.

  • Remind them you love & care for them.

  • Avoid expressing negative emotions.

Support & Validation

It’s sadly common for trans children to face bullying and misgendering after coming out — which is why it is so important for others to validate their identity and acknowledge their feelings. Ask your child about their preferred pronouns, and be open to listening to them as they discuss what their identity means to them.

Some of the best ways to show support for a trans child include:

  • Making a concerted effort to use their chosen name and pronouns.

  • Correcting your mistakes when you slip up.

  • Helping them establish a wardrobe that fits their gender identity.

  • Encouraging and supporting them as they explore their gender identity.

Find Community

People with trans children aren’t always sure how to find community, especially if they themselves are not part of the LGBTQ+ community. If your child comes out to you as trans, one of the best ways to help them is by encouraging them to seek out accepting communities that will support them and validate their identity.

Consider some of the following options:

  • Seek out LGBTQ+ support groups.

  • Participate in local LGBTQ+ events.

  • Look for LGBTQ+-friendly activities & hobby groups.

Even if you live in an area where the LGBTQ+ community is not as active, you can still seek out support via online communities and peer groups.

Active Listening

Any child who comes out as trans has almost certainly been struggling with those feelings internally for some time. As a result, it’s important to approach any conversation with respect and care. It’s important to appreciate the depth of that process and listen with care.

Active listening means:

  • Focusing on what’s being said instead of your own thoughts.

  • Providing non-verbal cues to show you’re paying attention, such as nodding your head.

  • Asking questions for clarification without judgment.

  • Paraphrasing to verify you understood them.

Schedule an Appointment

Coming out is a pivotal moment in anyone’s life, and it’s important to approach this process with care. That said, this doesn’t have to be a scary moment; this is an opportunity to explore and grow together. If you know a child who recently came out as trans and are looking for ways to support them, contact us to learn more about LGBTQIA+ therapy and consider scheduling a free consultation.

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