40 Essential Tips, Rules, And Guidelines For Parents Of Trans Kids
Absolutely everything a parent needs to know, from those who have been there.
You can judge a society by how it treats its most vulnerable residents. This sentiment offers an excellent way to reframe the heated, chaotic, misinformed cultural and political battles we’re seeing in the United States right now. The target, so often, is the LGBTQ+ community, with especially sadistic sights on transgender kids.
The fact that this community is relatively small — about 300,000 trans kids aged 13 to 17 in the U.S., according to the Williams Institute, with less data available about younger kids — is beside the point. Trans kids are suffering, and so many people in power in the U.S. seem hellbent not just on ignoring the suffering, but on making it worse. Trans kids have high rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidality — and gender-affirming care decreases those rates while discrimination increases them.
We all need to take a step back and to see the world through the eyes of a political ethicist, to hold up the religious, moral, and American democratic ideals to protect the powerless, those in the minority, those without a voice. We can start by giving parents of trans kids the knowledge to make informed choices about their child’s care and the support to access that care, without a hate-based, anti-science political agenda getting in the way of it.
Here are 40 things that parents and experts want every parent of a trans kid to know, no matter the circumstances they find themselves in — to support their kid so they can grow up to be a healthy, happy trans adult.
1. Loving Your Trans Kid Makes All The Difference
“Love your kid,” says Lindz Amer, host of the Rainbow Parenting podcast and author of the upcoming book Rainbow Parenting: Your Guide to Raising Queer Kids and Their Allies. “I think loving your trans kid is the most important, and that is what will feed all of these different things that you can do that are more practical, for and with… your trans kid.”
Studies show that love and support make a huge difference. Being physically and emotionally present in your child’s life and verbalizing your love for them are two of the best things parents can do, trans kids report.
How much more likely trans youth are to attempt suicide than their cisgender peers.
2. Parents Supporting Trans Kids Literally Saves Lives
In the United States, suicide is the fourth-highest cause of death for all teens between the ages of 15 to 19, according to a 2019 World Health Organization study. This same study found that trans teens were four times as likely to attempt suicide as their cisgender peers. The risk is even higher for trans kids of color, according to the Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health. The highest suicide rate in any racial or ethnic group was found in Native or Indigenous trans youth, with a whopping 21% having attempted suicide between 2021 and 2022.
A Trevor Project study, for example, found that different types of supportive parental actions, such as supporting your child’s gender expression and talking with them respectfully about being trans, are associated with a 16% to 42% lower odds of transgender, nonbinary, or gender-questioning youth attempting suicide. Another Trevor Project survey found that trans youth who feel supported by their parents are more than 50% less likely to attempt suicide than than those who don’t feel supported. Support doesn’t just decrease suicide risk; studies also show that trans teens who feel supported by their parents have fewer symptoms of depression.
When Caddie’s youngest child came out as trans, she was so proud of him. “I was honored that my child felt secure enough in me as a parent that they came out to me at such an early age,” says Caddie, a mom in Texas, who is using a pseudonym for safety reasons. A few months later, her child attempted to come out to their dad, with whom they had a decent relationship. “My ex threatened to send him to ‘conversion therapy.’”
Eventually, Caddie’s child locked themself in the bathroom to escape the screaming and cussing. “A few months after that,” Caddie says, “my child attempted suicide. He was in the hospital for nine days. A 12-year-old attempted suicide because his father could not love him unconditionally.”
Thankfully, Caddie’s child is now 14 and thriving on testosterone. “He is happy. He has friends. He laughs. He creates. It has been an honor to support his transition, and I’m excited to see the man he will grow into.”
3. Being Trans Isn’t A Fad
Although many people believe the transgender community is growing at a fast rate, it’s really not. The increased accessibility of the internet means people across the country (and world) are learning more about gender. This means they’re finally being able to put words to how they may have felt their entire lives. We’ve seen an increase in the number of older people who are transgender for similar reasons, in addition to expanded access to health care and HIV/AIDS becoming a far less deadly disease. People within the LGBTQ+ community are living longer than their counterparts in the 1980s and ‘90s, and as being transgender becomes more socially acceptable, more older people are coming out as such, including a disproportionately large number of veterans.
One of the reasons the belief that young folks are identifying as trans at an increased rate is so prevalent is due to a since-debunked paper published in 2018 about rapid-onset gender dysphoria (ROGD). The study’s author, physician Lisa Littman, claimed that gender dysphoria is spreading due to social contagion, particularly among those assigned female at birth. That paper has since been retracted by the journal that published it and picked apart numerous times, including by a 2022 study in The Journal of Pediatrics, in part because of its biased data collection methods, such as by only surveying parents and not interviewing children themselves, and by recruiting those parents specifically from anti-trans or trans-skeptical websites.
4. Trans People Have A Long And Rich History
Transgender and nonbinary people aren’t new. There are numerous examples across both ancient and modern societies that prove this. As early as 5000-3000 BCE, deities were being portrayed as crossing what we see today as the gender binary. Genders outside of the binary have been present historically around the world, from hijras in Asia and Two-Spirit folks in North America to Māhū people indigenous to Polynesia and beyond.
The more we are able to dig into historical documents, the more people we’re finding who were not cisgender, ranging from the 18th century French spy and diplomat Chevalier d'Eon and Civil War Union soldier Albert Cashier to 19th century Black feminist Frances Thompson and gospel singer Willmer "Little Ax” Broadnax. There were trans monks, artists, and even emperors.
5. “Mourning” Who Your Kid Used To Be Isn’t Appropriate — But It Will Take Time To Process
“Do not use language about your child ‘dying’ or ‘changing’ or that you need to ‘mourn’ who they were before they began their transition. Your kid didn’t die, as so many trans kids do. You’re one of the lucky parents,” says Spider, the transgender parent of a trans girl. “This language is so hurtful and upsetting.”
Your child is still the same kid you know and love.
It’s understandable to have a variety of feelings about your child coming out, including feeling grief or loss. But sharing this feeling with your child, even unintentionally, has the power to damage their self-esteem — and your relationship. Instead, focus on working through this feeling in private and in therapy, if possible.
After you give yourself time to process, think through all the things that you can look forward to doing with and for your child that relate to their true gender. Take joy in the gender euphoria they may experience trying on clothes that match their true gender when you go shopping together, for example. And remember: Your child is still the same kid you know and love.
6. How To Advocate For Your Child At School
Parents have to take charge when it comes to making sure their trans kid is being treated equitably at school. But it’s also important to ask your child for any and all input they want to share, whether that’s in meetings with school staff or at home. Some topics that may come up include the ability to use a different bathroom, participation in gendered activities such as sports, and using a new name or pronouns.
The principal at Chris’ school claimed they couldn’t adjust his name on the roster without it being legally changed. Patty investigated and found this wasn’t true. She “wrote a very long letter detailing what our state board says about this issue and explaining why being called by his correct name can support his mental health,” she says. The principal called the day after receiving the letter to share that Chris’ name had been changed in rosters. Because of that, he’s gone through high school without being deadnamed or misgendered by any teachers in class.
Patty suggests reaching out to your state’s parent training center if you need free help with school-related issues. “They normally help with school disability issues, but they can also help with bullying, civil rights issues, and trans issues,” she says.
Gender Spectrum, Welcoming Schools, and Trans Youth Equality all have amazing resources for working with your child’s school regarding their transition. Gender Spectrum’s website even features a Gender Support Plan, a form that staff, family, and a child can work on together. This form goes through confidentiality, safety, using locker rooms and other facilities, and more.
7. Self-Harm Is Common For Trans Kids
Rates of self-harm are nearly 15 times higher in transgender and nonbinary youth compared to their cisgender counterparts, according to a 2019 study. Many people know cutting as a form of self-harm, but self-harm can also include pulling hair, self-inflicting burns, drinking or eating harmful substances, and more.
How much higher rates of self-harm are in trans and nonbinary youth compared to their cisgender peers.
Engaging in self-harm doesn’t necessarily mean that someone wants to or will attempt suicide, but that they need better ways to get their emotions out. Thankfully, recovery for self-harm is possible, and a therapist can help with it. The key is to find another activity that helps your child cope the same way self-harm did, whether that’s helping the child feel more in control, escape numbness or sadness, or release anger.
8. Your Child Has Social, Medical, And Legal Transition Options
There are three main types of transition: social, medical, and legal.
Social transition can include coming out, using a chosen name and/or new set of pronouns, and changing gender expression, or the way someone shares their gender through their appearance. There are a number of gender-affirming ways to align with one’s gender identity, such as getting a haircut, wearing makeup, or binding, packing, stuffing, and tucking.
Legal transitioning can include changing from a given name to a chosen name and changing sex or gender markers on legal and/or identifying documents, such as a driver’s license. The National Center for Transgender Equality provides a great rundown of federal and state-by-state requirements for legal changes. Other resources on legal changes include the Transgender Law Center, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, and local organizations.
Your child may or may not ever want to engage in medical transition. The first step would be getting on puberty blockers at the first signs of puberty, which generally starts between the ages of 8 and 14. Around age 14, they may consider gender-affirming hormone therapy. Beyond that, other options include hair removal or transplants, vocal therapy or surgery, body contouring, facial surgery, fertility preservation, and top surgery. When they become an adult, bottom surgery will also become an option.
9. Kids Develop A Sense Of Gender Early
A child’s sense of gender is usually solidified between the ages of 3 and 5. This is the same for all children, regardless of whether they’re cisgender or transgender. After that age range, they begin to see and interpret rigid gender lines, feeling shame and guilt if they don’t match society’s expectations of their assumed gender.
One study found that 73% of trans women and 78% of trans men first experienced gender dysphoria by the age of 7. And according to a recent investigation from The Washington Post, 32% of trans adults say they began to understand their gender at age 10 or younger, and an additional 34% began to between ages 11 and 17.
The percentage of trans adults who said they began to understand their true gender by age 17.
For example, Zaya Wade, the trans daughter of actor Gabrielle Union and former NBA star Dwayne Wade, knew she was a girl as a toddler. It was nearly a decade before she came out. But not everyone knows they’re trans at a young age, like Zaya. Whether it’s because they didn’t have the language to describe their feelings or didn’t recognize gender dysphoria for what it was, didn’t examine their personal idea of gender until later in life, or any other reason, people can realize that they’re trans at any age, from childhood up through their 90s.
10. Your Child Knows Their Own Gender
By the time your child comes out to you, they’ve probably thought about their gender identity for a while. It’s likely they weren’t sure how or when to share this with you. One of the best ways to show love to your trans child is to “believe them when they tell you something about themselves,” Amer says. Trust them and center them in any and all decisions.
What this means practically could look different for each family, depending on what your child feels fits them best. For example, they may want to cut their hair or style it differently, which is often an easy change to support. You can and should still have a conversation about it beforehand. Let them know that it might take a few months for their hair to grow back if they don’t like it, or that they may have to deal with bullies. Above all else, though, express that you support their decision and will help affirm them in any way that you can.
11. Detransition Is Extremely Rare
Princeton University’s Trans Youth Project found that 97.5% of youth who came out between the ages of 3 and 12 continued to identify as transgender or nonbinary five years later. Other studies have found that most people who detransition usually do so because of family pressures, societal factors such as fear over safety, temporary financial stress, or difficulty accessing health care.
Patty’s son Chris came out as trans once, only to go back into the closet before coming out again later. “I think it was partly that we hadn’t fully prepared for coming out,” says Patty, who wants other parents to know that “this does not mean it was a phase or the kid doesn’t know what he wants. It could be that they feel pressured to live up to some standard set by family, friends, society, etc.” She suggests continuing to keep lines of communication open and let your child know you support them no matter what. “I also read and researched on my own, and our family counselor helped us come up with a comprehensive plan for coming out safely.”
12. How To Build Up A Trans-Inclusive Home Library
Build up a library of books to help you, your child, and your family learn more about and discuss gender.
Many books marketed towards parents are written by cisgender people, which can be a drawback as centering trans voices is key. However, some books that are regularly recommended include The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals, The Gender Creative Child: Pathways to Nurturing and Supporting Children Who Live Outside Gender Boxes, and The Gender Identity Guide for Parents: Compassionate Advice to Help Your Child Be Their Most Authentic Self.
Of course, having books that are more geared towards children is important, too. To that end, Amer recommends books by Kyle Lukoff, an award-winning writer and transgender man. They also highly recommend books from Flamingo Rampant, an LGBTQ+ and feminist publishing company, and from the First Conversations series. You can also check out the Fatherly list of 5 Great Children’s Books About Trans Kids.
Your kid coming out to you means they love and trust you.
13. It’s Scary To Tell Your Parents You’re Trans
If your child has come out to you as trans, they see you as a safe person to confide in. “Our family is a super queer and queer-friendly family, and it was still scary for our daughter [Cat] to come out to us,” Spider says. “Cat grew up surrounded by queer people and she was still scared. Your kid coming out to you means they love and trust you.”
14. Your Child Might Not Tell You What They Need
Even if your child sees you as a safe person, they may not feel empowered to speak up at all times or about all subjects. It’s OK to ask them questions about various issues and situations, so long as you do so respectfully. “If you ever have a question about whether or not you should do something, or what the right approach is, remembering that your child is the center of this situation will help you look in the right direction,” Spider says.
“Be as sensitive as possible to how the gender dysphoria might be showing up for your kid,” Patty says. Her trans son Chris had recently come out and seemed reluctant about going on family vacation, something he normally was excited about. Patty thought this might be because of the swimsuit he had at the time and asked. “Sure enough,” she says, “it was. So, we went to the store and bought swim trunks and he picked out a cool swim shirt and was so relieved and happy.” The biggest takeaway from this interaction? “The more often I talked to him and asked him what he needed, the more he began advocating for himself.”
15. How To Find Gender-Affirming Health Care Providers
Ideally, your child’s doctor will be trans-competent and have a network of affirming specialists they can refer you to when needed. If not, directories such as OutCare Health, the LGBTQ+ Healthcare Directory, and Trans in the South can help you find providers. Your local PFLAG chapter or LGBTQ+ center will likely have recommendations.
Finding providers that affirm your child isn’t just a nice thing to have — it’s critical to your child’s well-being. Gender-affirming care in the form of puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy can drastically decrease rates of depression and suicidal ideation.
In addition, interacting with health care providers can be difficult for anyone, but that’s especially true for the transgender community. According to a report by the Center for American Progress in 2021, nearly half of transgender folks in the U.S. have dealt with discrimination or mistreatment at the hands of health care providers. These experiences lead to avoiding care out of fear or self-preservation, which can easily lead to worsening mental and physical health.
16. You’re Probably A Bit Transphobic
One of the most vital things parents of trans kids can do is to acknowledge our heteronormative and cisnormative biases. Therapy, connecting with community, and reading/watching/listening to trans creators can help with unpacking any gender-related stigma, gender roles, or even transphobia that you may hold. It’s OK for this to take a while, especially as these are complex and multi-layered issues — and unpacking transphobia often means addressing a variety of other harmful beliefs, such as racism, too.
At minimum, ask yourself what myths and misconceptions you hold or used to hold about the transgender community. How can you combat them?
Take what you learn about those myths and misconceptions you previously held and apply it in your interactions with others. But know that it will be important to pick and choose these battles. If you overhear a one-off transphobic comment from a café as you walk by? That could slide. A neighbor saying the same thing? That’s definitely a moment you should speak up.
17. Names And Pronouns Do Matter
Trans kids may want to use a different name than the one you chose for them, or different pronouns than the ones associated with their gender assigned at birth. If they do, it can take a while to adjust the neural pathways in your brain accordingly. There are tools that can help you, such as Practice with Pronouns, Minus 18’s Pronouns Practice Tool, or Show Your Love’s Pronoun Practice Worksheet.
Only 41% of trans youth respondents to a Trevor Project survey said their parents used their name and pronouns correctly. However, that survey also found that using the child’s name and pronouns correctly is one of the best ways parents can support their trans kid, and doing so reduces the risk of their child attempting suicide. Another Trevor Project study found that nonbinary youth whose pronouns are never respected attempt suicide at 2.5 times the rate of youth who are surrounded by people who all or mostly all respect their pronouns — 27% of the former had attempted suicide in the past year compared to 10% of the latter.
Your child is on a gender journey, and they may change their name or pronouns again at any time. Chels, a nonbinary parent of a nonbinary child in Ohio, works to keep lines of communication open at all times. That started with Chels thanking their child for sharing something so intimate when their child came out “and that I was excited that they told me… I reminded them that, if their pronouns ever change, please let me know, because I always want to call them what they want to be called.”
18. Beyond Pronouns, Words Matter
Appropriate terminology to refer to the transgender community is constantly changing, which can make it difficult to stay up to date on the latest language to use. But it’s important to try. A Trevor Project study found, for example, that parents educating themselves about LGBTQ people and issues is linked to a lower risk of their trans child attempting suicide. One way to educate yourself is by learning what terms trans people like to use to refer to themselves and the care they receive. For instance, transmasculine people generally prefer to refer to themselves as “assigned female at birth” or “afab” rather than saying they were “born a girl.”
Schuyler Bailar, a transgender swimmer and activist, has a fantastic primer on key terms to know. If you’ve heard a term from your child or someone else and want to know more about it, the PFLAG glossary has a wealth of information too.
19. You’ll Make Mistakes — And That’s OK
Whether that’s with your kid directly or talking with others, you will make mistakes, even after practicing using the correct name and pronouns. That doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent or ally. “Be gentle with yourself,” Spider says. “Don’t make a big deal of your mistakes. Misgendering happens sometimes, for example. Just apologize and move on.” Spending a lot of time on apologies can put your child in the position of having to comfort you for unintentionally causing harm.
20. How To Connect With Trans Community Members
With so much news about the transgender community focusing on the adversity individuals constantly face, it’s crucial for kids to connect with and see older trans people thriving. Spaces that make room for celebrating trans joy are revolutionary and powerful in a world that only highlights trauma. Joy and rest lead to developing resilience, an essential skill for trans kids. And connecting with community can help with processing feelings, accessing resources, and getting support for you, your child, and your family.
Some great options for finding community include PFLAG, your nearest LGBTQ+ center, Gender Spectrum, Out & Equal, and Trans Families. Caddie also recommends a Facebook group called Mama Dragons, saying “They offer suicide prevention training and unending support.” Amer recommends Galaxy Community Circle, a site focused on trans kids ages 4 to 12. You can also look to connect with folks fighting back against discriminatory legislation. Equality Ohio is a great example of this, as they host regular virtual advocacy and support events.
21. Your Child May Not Be Ready To Come Out To Everyone
Coming out is a lifelong process, and your kid may not be ready to share their gender with the world yet. So check in with your child about whether there are specific people they want to get that information — or not get that information. “Your kid may not feel comfortable with Dad or Mom or Stepdad or Grandma knowing intimate details about their feelings or their body,” Spider says.
If they do want to come out to family, have a conversation about how much they want you involved in the disclosure process, as well as if they want you to take point in correcting people when they use the wrong name, pronouns, or gendered terms. Chris, Patty’s son, felt most comfortable with Patty handling aspects of informing family members. That allowed Patty to “answer questions and deal with any awkward things family could say … Next time they saw Chris, they had most of their questions answered and could be supportive without bombarding Chris.”
The national organization Gender Spectrum has tips for these kinds of conversations as well as sample letters families have sent to their loved ones to inform them that their child has come out as transgender.
22. You May Have To Cut Family Out Of Your Life
Holidays and other get-togethers with extended family can be difficult for trans kids. Keep in mind that these people may or may not be supportive of your child’s trans identity. It’s OK to set firm boundaries and put them in place quickly, such as asking someone to leave your child’s birthday party if they’re misgendering and deadnaming them or loudly making a fuss about not understanding transness. Have conversations with your child about whether this is something that your child might want you to do ahead of time, when possible.
“What you do now demonstrates to your child how they should expect to be treated by everyone else for the rest of their lives,” Spider adds. “You are their first, best example, and they are always listening, always watching.”
“The last thing your child needs is to feel like their transition inconveniences, hurts, bothers, or upsets you.”
More than asking someone to leave a party, you may have to entirely cut people out of your life to protect your child. This may be temporary or permanent, but it’ll hurt either way. It is, however, necessary for your child’s wellbeing, and it’s probably what’s best for you too. “If they don’t respect your kid’s autonomy,” Spider says, “they don’t really respect you, either.”
23. You’ll Have A Lot Of Feelings To Process… Away From Your Child
Kids worry about adding to their parents’ stress much more than they let on. “The last thing your child needs is to feel like their transition inconveniences, hurts, bothers, or upsets you,” Spider says. You don’t have to shield all of your feelings from your child, but you should take care of your emotions, worries, and fears away from them.
Patty’s son “was always so worried that we were grieving the loss of our daughter,” she says. “I honestly wasn’t, but I did have some feelings about his safety and other issues that were things I needed to work through so I didn’t make him feel like he was letting us down.” Patty did this by finding an LGBTQ+-friendly counselor.
If, like Patty, you decide to look into therapy, websites such as Inclusive Therapists, Open Path Collective, and National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network may be helpful. Local parent-centric groups such as PFLAG likely know of great therapist options in your area, too. Check whether you’re eligible for an employee assistance program to help cover the cost of therapy and to find local mental health providers.
If therapy isn’t in the cards, Spider suggests finding your own spaces to process, which can include journaling, taking your own gender journey, turning to affirming religious leaders, and talking with close friends or other parents of trans kids.
24. Mental Health Support Is Essential, Especially For Trans Kids
Your trans kid will probably need therapy. Trans kids are three times more likely than cis kids to have depression, anxiety, and neurodevelopmental conditions such as ADHD, according to a study published last year. And trans kids as young as age 9 are six times more likely to have suicidal thoughts.
Stigma, discrimination, minority stress, and internalized oppression are all known to contribute to mental health issues.
Even if your child doesn’t have a mental health disorder, coming out and transitioning can be stressful, and they could probably use an extra listener who is outside of their daily life. The prevalence of transphobia in the news and of anti-trans laws in general, regardless of where they live, can also cause distress. Stigma, discrimination, minority stress, and internalized oppression are all known to contribute to mental health issues. Additionally, health care providers or insurance plans may require a certain time period in therapy before they’re willing to assist with some aspects of medical transition, such as gender-affirming hormones or surgery.
The same services you sought out to find a trans-inclusive therapist for yourself can also help you find one for your child.
25. Crisis Numbers That Deserve A Place On The Fridge
Crisis numbers should have a place in the home where everyone in the family can find them. Not all numbers are created equal, so keep that in mind as you decide which ones may be best to have on your fridge. Trans Lifeline is the only number listed below that promises to not involve police in situations of suicidality, something that can lead to police-caused violence, especially to BIPOC trans folks.
- The Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386
- The GLBT National Youth Talkline, serving youth through age 25: (800) 246-7743
- The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline: (888) 843-4564
- Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
- Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741
- 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 988
26. How To Find A Trans-Inclusive Religious Community
Faith and religion can be difficult topics when it comes to gender. Many places of worship in the United States don’t welcome transgender individuals or their families. However, a Trevor Project survey found that finding a faith community that affirms and respects their child’s gender identity is one of the best things parents can do for their trans kids, and even reduces their risk of attempting suicide. Because although many LGBTQ+ people have had traumatic experiences tied to religious institutions, many have also found that being a part of an inclusive faith community can be incredibly healing.
If you already have a place of worship, meeting with a leader in your religious space can help determine if you and your child can safely continue to be a part of that community. If your place of worship is looking to learn more about gender inclusivity, the Human Rights Campaign has a congregational guide. Gender Spectrum also hosts regular conversations with religious leaders about trans inclusion. The Human Rights Campaign has a number of other amazing faith resources for continued learning, as well.
If you’re seeking a new religious space, start by checking with your local LGBTQ+ center, PFLAG chapter, or other trusted members of your community.
27. Your Child Is Brave When They Stand Up For Themself
Standing up for yourself is no easy feat. “They need to hear from you that it is not only OK, but praiseworthy,” Spider says. “Don’t go overboard. A simple, ‘Hey, I saw you correcting someone on your pronouns. That seems pretty stressful, and I’m proud of you for sticking up for yourself,’ goes a long way.”
28. Regular Check-Ins Will Keep You On The Same Page
Setting up regular check-ins with your child that happen at a certain time each month can help make them feel like less of a big deal. You could even make them fun by having a special brunch and one-on-one time. Ask your child about school, extracurriculars, friends, mental health, and more.
“I just check in sometimes with my kid,” Chels says. “I’m like, ‘Hey, how are you doing? How are you feeling about your pronouns? Are we still using they/them pronouns?’ It’s something that’s fluid, that can change. It’s also something that I want to stay abreast of.”
You can also use this time to see if they have feedback about how you’ve handled the past month, too. If they do give you feedback, try to reframe it as a teaching moment by asking more questions, including, “How would you like for me to handle that situation next time?” You’d be surprised at how insightful even the littlest of kids can be when you solicit their feedback.
The percentage of trans students who enduring bullying at school regularly.
29. Bullying Is A Massive Problem For Trans Kids
Transgender students face higher rates of bullying in school, with 61% enduring bullying regularly. These days, cyberbullying is happening more and more in school-related electronic spaces and social media. Bullying increases trauma and stress in addition to making it more likely that a child considers attempting suicide.
There isn’t a federal law that specifically addresses bullying. However, bullying counts as discriminatory harassment when it’s based on sex/gender identity/sexual orientation, and federally funded schools have an obligation to stop discriminatory harassment. If your child has been subject to discriminatory harassment due to being LGBTQ+, you can file a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and report a violation of your child’s civil rights to the Department of Justice.
State or local laws may also prohibit bullying based on gender identity.
If your child is facing bullying for being trans, you can also contact GLSEN or your state ACLU group for help. It’s also worth reaching out to other parents of transgender and nonbinary children at the school, if applicable, to see if they have struggled with bullying, and how they dealt with it.
For more resources, check out The National Center for Transgender Equality.
The number of anti-transgender bills that have been proposed in the United States in 2023 alone.
30. Trans Rights Vary By State — And Are Changing Fast
Although it may be difficult at the moment to keep on top of what rights you still have in your state, it’s important to do so. Not only will that help you know when you need to speak up about anti-transgender bills, but this will help you give your child the best possible care. Your local LGBTQ+ community center, PFLAG chapter, and the Trans Formations Project are all valuable resources.
As of publication, 493 anti-transgender bills have been introduced in 47 states this year alone, of which 26 have passed, 43 have failed, and 424 are actively being worked on. A further 19 bills have been introduced at a federal level, from banning medical transition for transgender youth to barring transgender girls from participating in sports from kindergarten through college.
Importantly, some states are adding and protecting trans rights. Last year, for example, California became the first sanctuary state for transgender people and their families; if a family moves to California to escape prosecution for breaking an anti-trans law in another state or if they travel to California to receive gender-affirming care, the state will protect them. Minnesota is poised to become the second trans refuge state, and several more are considering similar bills.
If trans kids’ rights are being attacked in your state, you may consider moving. This isn’t an option available to many families for many reasons, but if your family is considering it, activist Erin Reed’s legislative risk map can help you determine where to move to keep your trans kid protected.
Get educated on current and proposed policies that affect your family, whether that is at a municipal, county, state, or even national level. Chase Strangio, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, is a great resource. Both the National Center for Trans Equality and the Trans Formations Project do a great job of tracking legislation.
31. Great TV Shows With Trans Characters
Books aren’t the only way to start a great conversation; TV shows have a lot to reflect on too.
Options for trans kids include:
- She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (Netflix)
- Steven Universe (Hulu)
- Danger & Eggs (Amazon Prime)
- Muppet Babies (Disney+)
- Blue’s Clues (Nickelodeon)
- Ridley Jones (Netflix)
- The Owl House (Disney+)
- Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts (Netflix)
- Star Trek: Prodigy (Paramount+)
Options for teens include:
- Pose (FX)
- Supergirl (CW)
- Heartstopper (Netflix)
- The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)
- The Umbrella Academy (Netflix)
- Star Trek: Discovery (Paramount+)
- The Fosters (Hulu)
As you watch with your family, ask your kid what the show did well and what it could do better. When you encounter things that bring up discomfort, talk through them. What hurt? Did something hit close to home? Did it bring up fears? Don’t only focus on the negative, though. What happy things did it make you think of? What brought affirming or validating feelings? Watching and processing together can help you all be on the same page.
32. Why It’s Important To Document Moments Of Oppression
Keep a log — you never know when you will need to show a pattern of discrimination. Write down as much as you can about instances of oppression. Who was involved? What happened (or didn’t happen)? Where did it take place? Were there witnesses? Were people in positions of power informed, and, if so, what actions did they take?
Keeping these notes in a binder that also allows your child to record their feelings can help if you ever need to show how these moments cause distress. Taking these steps will help if you ever need to approach your child’s school about ongoing bullying or harm your child is facing.
33. 10 States Have Banned Gender-Affirming Care For Trans Youth
These states are: South Dakota, Iowa, Utah, Arizona, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. Alabama has even made it a felony-level crime to provide best practice medical care for trans youth. Arizona currently prohibits gender-affirming surgical care but still allows for other forms of medical care. West Virginia lawmakers have successfully passed a bill banning gender-affirming medical care for trans youth that is waiting to be signed into law.
The percentage of all trans youth aged 13 to 17 in the U.S. who are at risk of losing access to gender-affirming care in their state.
Several other states are attempting to pass bills this year targeting transgender youth’s access to health care. Data from the Human Rights Campaign shows that half of all trans youth aged 13 to 17 in the U.S. are at risk of losing access to gender-affirming care in their state.
34. 19 States Have Banned Trans Kids From Sports
Although the particulars of the laws vary, 19 states have banned trans kids from playing sports on teams that match their true gender, and more states have introduced bills with trans sports bans. The bans cannot currently be enforced in Idaho, West Virginia, Indiana, and Utah due to injunctions.
“These are kids. I think that people forget that. People talk about these children as if they are threats to women’s sports, but they’re not.
It’s clear that these bans harm trans kids. Trans students in states with inclusive sports policies are 14 percentage points less likely to have considered suicide in the past year compared to students in states that don’t have such policies. Activist and swimmer Schuyler Bailar previously told Fatherly, “These are kids. I think that people forget that. People talk about these children as if they are threats to women’s sports, but they’re not. They’re just kids who want to play soccer and run around the track … For the most part, we’re literally talking about people playing with their friends.”
35. You Need A Safe Folder
Safe folders should hold records of anything you may need to show your child’s gender journey. That includes “letters from friends, drawings that the kid does of themselves that are like their gender expression, letters from doctors, just like stuff that you would need if the worst were to happen and like someone were to, like, come to your house,” Amer says. Any notes from doctors or therapists confirming your child’s gender identity should be included too. Although it’s unclear how effective safe folders would be in case of challenges from officials over your child’s gender identity and ability to live as their true gender, they recently became popular as Texas and Florida began their anti-trans crusades.
36. How To Celebrate Pride
According to a Trevor Project survey, taking your trans kid to LGBTQ-related events or celebrations is one of the best ways to show your support, and it decreases their risk of attempting suicide.
Check out our guide to taking your child to a Pride Parade in June, or whenever your hometown hosts Pride. Also be on the lookout for local Pride events that are specifically geared towards families.
If you buy Pride clothing or gear, consider doing so directly from LGBTQ+-owned brands. That way, the money stays in the community and has an opportunity to help out queer and trans people amidst oppression. Etsy can be a great option, with stores like Meg Emiko Art, Many Moons Ago, and Pride Flag SD. Other great options outside of Etsy include Bye Gender, Flavnt, Bianca Designs, Beefcake Swimwear, Fluide, NerdyKeppie, and Heckin Unicorn.
37. There Are Summer Camps Specifically For Trans Kids
Thankfully, many traditional summer camps are welcoming and willing to make adjustments as needed to ensure that trans kids are as safe as possible. Many of the resources provided above for getting your child the support they need at school can help at summer camp, too. But if you’re worried about your trans child’s summer camp experience, you could consider camps specifically for transgender and nonbinary kids, such as Harbor Camps. Additionally, the Trans Youth Equality Foundation hosts two youth retreats each year if you’re looking for a shorter experience.
38. You’ll Become The Safe Parent For Your Kid’s LGBTQ+ Friends
“You will probably end up with a lot of scared trans teenagers whose parents don’t support them who ask you for support or advice. It might make you sad sometimes that those other parents don’t support their kids,” Spider says. “Give yourself space to feel those feelings.”
Queer and trans people tend to find each other even before they’re out, so your child may have a lot of trans friends as they grow up.
Once it’s clear to your child that you’re supportive of trans people, it’s quite likely that their friends may come to you for love and support that they aren’t receiving at home. Queer and trans people tend to find each other even before they’re out, so your child may have a lot of trans friends as they grow up. And according to a Trevor Project survey, being welcoming and kind to their LGBTQ+ friends is one of the best ways to support them, and decreases their risk of attempting suicide.
39. The Milestones Are Worth Celebrating
“Celebrate the smaller milestones,” Patty says. “Let your kid know how happy you are for them.” Her family, for example, got cake to celebrate Chris starting hormones. “It was fun for our whole family and showed Chris that we were happy for him. We also celebrated the bigger milestones like name change, one-year anniversary of starting testosterone, etc.”
Spider adds that enjoying these affirming moments “will carry you through every scary time. I hold so close in my heart the first time that my daughter wore a skirt and had her hair braided and makeup on. That smile lights me up every time I’m ground down by transphobia in the world.”
40. Have Fun!
Be silly. Laugh. Show lots of affection. Figure out the best ways that you and your family can engage in fun activities, especially when life is hard. For example, you might create a jar with ideas of ways to be silly together. Including everyone in the family when you brainstorm means you’ll find more things to do or try together, strengthening those bonds that build resilience.
Although navigating transness in the current era isn’t easy, remember that this is still the same child you’ve been raising. Most importantly, they are still a child, and children need to laugh and have fun. This is part of how they not only learn about the world and themselves, but improve their emotional, physical, and cognitive well-being. Play also eases and releases stress — something all kids need, regardless of their gender identity.