So… you’ve told your parents you’re transgender and they just don’t get it. Don’t give up! You have been thinking about this for a long time while they may be completely clueless. The signs that are so clear to you may be invisible to them. They’ve been happy to think of you as different, unique, your own person, maybe even gay or lesbian, but not transgender. They may not even know anything about the subject, and there’s a lot for them to learn. It’s frustrating to have to get their permission to do something about it when you know so much more about it than they do.
Why are your parents so slow on the uptake? Parents usually are a little slow about these things. It’s in their nature to be careful and worried about things like whether kids will hassle you at school, how grandma will react, and how you could possibly be so sure of something this complicated at your age. They’ll tell you that when they were your age they had all kinds of ideas that changed when they became adults. I bet you’re tired of hearing all of this and just want to move on!
I am a gender identity therapist who has worked with many teens like you, and their parents. I’ve written a book of advice for parents. Here’s my advice for you:
Take Your Time. Learn About Yourself.
Be Safe. Get Support.
Be Patient With Your Parents. Work With Them.
When did you first begin to question your gender identity?
Do you feel sure now, or are you still questioning?
How did you fit in with girls and boys when you were younger?
How do you feel about the male or female aspects of your body?
How do you feel about the changes to your body that come with puberty?
How do you feel when people view you as female or male?
Who have you talked to about this so far and how have they responded?
Would you like to share this information with other family members?
Do you want to let people know at school? In your neighborhood?
Fear that you will be harassed or physically harmed
Fear that you will make changes now that you will regret when you are older
Concern that you are too young to be sure about something this serious
Concern that some event, problem or person has caused you to believe you are transgender but you really are not
Belief that there is no need to transition because anyone can do whatever they want in life, regardless of gender
Feeling that it is shameful to be transgender or to have a transgender child.
Worry about what others will think of you and them
Sadness that they are losing their boy or girl
For Definitions of terms, click here
A workbook -- I think you'll find it helpful! The Gender Quest Workbook by Rylan Testa, Deborah Coolheart and Jayme Peta
Novels about transgender teens:
A Boy Like Me, by Jennie Woods Being Emily, by Rachel
Gold George, by Alex Gino I am J, by Cris Beam If I Was Your Girl, Meredith
Luna, by Julie Ann Peters
Parrotfish, by Ellen Wittlinger
Jazz, by Jazz Jennings
Normal, by Katie Rain Hill
Assembly Required, by Arin
The Trans Teens Online Talk Group is a live, moderated group chat for trans youth ages 12 thru 19, operating each Wednesday from 4-6 pm, pacific time. This program is designed to be a safe place that allows trans youth to talk freely about concerns and issues, with others their own age, providing support for one another, and helping each other know they are not alone.
If you are feeling depressed, can’t cope, or feel like hurting yourself or killing yourself, get help! You can ask for counseling without letting anyone know it’s about gender if that’s the easiest way to get started. Just tell your parents or a school counselor that you are feeling down and need to talk to someone about it.
If you feel like hurting yourself or killing yourself, let a responsible adult know right away! It’s not something to keep to yourself or just talk to your friends about. Get help right away if you are cutting yourself or hurting yourself.You don’t have to see a gender identity specialist to get started. Any therapist who is open-minded about LGBT issues can help you.
If you don’t know how to arrange this, or if you’re feeling suicidal, call the Trevor Project hotline at 1-888-4-U-TREVOR or visit www.thetrevorproject.org.
“Families want the best for their children – even if the way they express their care and concern is experienced by their LGBT children as rejection”
--Caitlin Ryan, Family Acceptance Project