Briefly describe how your child first came out to you and your initial reactions.
Although we didn’t realize what was happening at the time, our son was coming out in moments since 3rd grade. First, it was no pink or purple clothing; then it was no skirts or dresses; then it was boy’s track shorts and t-shirts; then it was cutting the long hair into a boy cut. Our son first told us that he was agender and wanted to present masculine but about 6 months later told us he was transgender. Our son is extremely terrified of needles and syringes; one day on a car ride home our son said:
“I know how to get over my fear of needles”
“Great, tell me about it!”
“Well, you know I’m trans so I’ll just have to get over it to get my hormone therapy”.
What concerns did you experience over the first weeks or months? How did you deal with them?
One of the first feelings was relief because as parents we finally knew what our child’s true gender identity was and we could figure out how to best support him.
And then, we were overwhelmed. How do you parent through this? Are there resources? What do I need to know? What does my kid need? Being able to have access to other parents going through the same process has been immensely helpful in figuring out how to navigate this journey and identify resources for ourselves, our family and our son.
Finally, there is an extra level of fear our son’s well being and safety beyond normal parenting boundaries. Not everyone in this world is going to love and accept our son for who he is.
Has your child come out to other family members over time?
Yes. With transgender children that are transitioning, there is a physical appearance component so we were very open with the immediate family as the moments occurred. Everyone has been very accepting and is working hard to have a grandson instead of a granddaughter; a nephew instead of a niece.
What is the hardest thing about knowing their LGBTQ identity?
That I can’t truly relate to what they are going through. I can relate on what it’s like to have a little brother, survive middle school but I don’t have any personal experience and never will with gender dysphoria.
What are some challenges have you faced concerning your LGBTQ child? How did you deal with these?
When we had to sign the consent form for hormone therapy we went through a grieving process as we “lost” our daughter.
We’ve had to align all our family photos, family stationery, correspondence, etc. to reference our son and his name instead of our daughter and her name.
Wondering how people would react and treat us after they found out that our daughter is now our son.
What is the best thing about knowing your child's LGBTQ identity?
That he is now living his life as the person he is and wants to be!
Having tons of respect for the courage that it took him to come out!
That his school community and friends still love him and include him in everything!
Knowing what you know today, would you want your child to “stay in the closet”? Why?
Absolutely not! Nobody has any right to tell someone who they are or aren’t! In Oscar Wilde’s words, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”
What would you say to other parents learning the LGBTQ identity of their child?
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your child! It took them a lot of strength and courage to come out to you and they will need your love and support to stay strong. You will become stronger too as you face all these new challenges.
What would you say to youth coming out to their families?
Be who you are! Be strong! Know that there are resources for you and your family to help guide you on the process; you are not alone!
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