Late in 2014, when my daughter shared that she was transgender with my husband and I, I knew that we would love and support her but I didn’t know how I would help, I didn’t know how I could help. I knew that I would have to research and do lots and lots of homework to understand what the next steps would be, but I honestly didn’t know where to start. I also knew I would get her any and all of the help that she would need and want, I knew I would move mountains to get her that help BUT I didn’t know who to turn to for that help. I knew there were so many things that I wanted to do, I knew there were so many things that I needed to do …. I didn’t know where to turn or who had the answers or who could guide me to those answers. In just six years, there is so much more information available for parents of transgender people, so much more than we had access to when our daughter first told us her truth. I’d like to share some of the things that I have learned as we have navigated our journey into “Transparentcy”
The first thing is simple, just be there, be the person that your child can turn to. Of course this is difficult for you, I know how difficult it is to see your child in pain, to see your child in turmoil, to not know how to make the hurt stop. No family can go through this with ease and not bumps in the road but imagine how difficult it is for our kids, how hard it was for them to share their secrets with you. Let your child know that you love them no matter what, even when you are feeling broken, they need to see your love, even when you don’t know why this is happening, they need to see your acceptance. Put on that brave face in front of the kids and know that we are allowed to break behind closed doors. Somewhere that they don’t see our pain, they are shouldering enough of their own pain, they don’t need ours too. They need us to be their soft place to land, they need to know that our love is truly unconditional.
I think the second thing to support our kids is to educate ourselves. Find out as much as you can, read books, read articles, watch movies/documentaries/tv shows and follow advocates and allies on social media. Here are some things to start you out :
Trans Bodies, Trans Selves
Gender Born: Raising Healthy Trans Kids
I am Jazz
Don’t forget about YOU!!! Get support for yourself and your significant other!! You are going to go through some rough things also. While our kids journey is paramount and should be the first thing we are concerned about, we need a soft place to land also. Find a therapist, find a support group, find friends that are also parents of LGBTQ+ kids, you have to make yourself a priority also. Like they always say when you’re on a place, in case of emergency give yourself the oxygen mask first, you can’t be strong and supportive of your kids if you aren’t being strong and supportive of yourself. Here are some organizations that can help:
Some of the other things that I found helpful for me … I journaled, I journaled alot …. I wrote down every thought and every feeling and every emotion and every memory I thought I would lose and then I shredded that book into pieces because I didn’t need it. But I think that getting some of those hurt thoughts, those painful thoughts, those negative thoughts, those self pity thoughts and yes even those angry thoughts, getting them out and into the universe is cathartic. My daughter didn’t need those thoughts, my husband didn’t need those thoughts, but I needed to rid myself of those thoughts. It’s normal, and it’s okay, but you have let it go, you have to ground yourself and get back to supporting your kid.
I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers, I’m not going to tell you that there is a timeframe and if you follow some guidelines, everything will be fine. I’m not going to let you think that there is an easy way, there isn’t, being a parent is hard and it’s messy. Whether you are the parent of a cis kid, a hetersexual kid, a queer kid or a trans kid … it’s always going to be challenging but it’s worth it, our kids are worthy and worth it. Even on the hard days, just show up!!! Know that you are not alone, you are now part of a very special club …. Transparentcy!