I have two children, and three years ago my older child transitioned to be his true authentic self. A year later, my younger child transitioned to be her true authentic self. So, I was the mom to a daughter and son, and now I’m a mom to a son and daughter. I’ve learned a lot on this journey, as our whole family transitioned with our children’s transitions. Here are 10 easy steps to take to support your child or loved one as they step into their authentic selves.
- Remember back to the beginning, when all you wanted was a healthy child.
- Realize that your child’s gender journey isn’t about you, it’s about your child being their authentic self.
- Get educated. Read everything. Get curious. Ask questions, and really listen to the answers.
- Build a community. You are not alone. There are online and in-person groups ready to welcome you and all of your feelings. Check out the organization Gender Spectrum if you haven’t already.
- Share your feelings in those safe spaces, with a therapist, or with your nearest and dearest. Anywhere you need to but where your child will not overhear. Your feelings are valid, but they are separate from your child’s feelings. Your child does not need to deal with your feelings when they have their own to focus on.
- You might be feeling grief, confusion, fear, anxiety, and disbelief. Remind yourself that you still have your child. In order to hold on to them and your relationship, you must love, support, and accept what they are telling you.
- The word “they” can be used as a singular pronoun.
- You didn’t make your child trans or non-binary. You can’t “fix,” “cure,” or change who they are.
- This is real, because your child said this is how they feel. Believe their truths. If you listen and believe, they hopefully will keep sharing with you.
- No parent to a young child knows who will love or bully their child. No parent knows if their child will want to or be able to have children. No parent can see into the future, so don’t worry about those tomorrow issues today. Focus on what is in front of you right now. A beautiful child, who is sharing with you who their inner person is. Look at them with love, speak with love, and lovingly accept them completely. You can do this. You were born to be their parent.
Sara Kaplan is a proud mother of two transgender children, who lives in Berkeley, California. She has battled a lifetime of food addiction, obesity, shame, and self loathing. By taking her journey public, through her blog publicdisplayofselflove.com, she gained self worth. Sara now coaches others and teaches classes to children and adults on the trans-formative potential of acceptance, self- love and gratitude. Sara’s families journey has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, Fast Company, Woman’s World magazine, Lucia, Prevention, Better Homes and Garden, Yahoo, and MSN. Sara’s own articles have been published on Education Post, Elephant Journal, Motherly and Kveller.