Too often a teen will upfront and unexpectedly drop the bombshell of coming out transgender to his or her parents. The parents’ first responses are generally to challenge the veracity of what their teen is saying, and then communication breaks down completely.
For most parents who need the face the unexpected reality of change, might have to deal with a lot based on this type of revelation . There are numerous fears and concerns most parents experience when a teenager or young adult is transgender. You have just learned that your child is transgendered. You're experiencing self-blame, grief worry religious confusion and stigma. Then follows the questions accompanied by the revelation of your child’s position in life.
a) Did I do something wrong?
b) The child I thought I knew and loved no longer exists!
c) Will my child be beaten? Discriminated against? Get AIDS?
d) Is my child damned to spend eternity in hell?
e) What will people think of my child? Of me?
and you might also be experiencing relief.
So now what should you do?
Well, first, take a deep breath. Second, tell yourself you will get through this. And you will. As a matter of fact, you might someday look back and find that you are grateful for the experience of having a transgender child.
Yes, you read that right, grateful. How is that?
How do I know? I am glad you ask.
I found that some parents get to the point where they believe that the experience of having a transgender child actually made them a better person--more open minded and sensitive to the needs of others, particularly those in other minority groups. Others grew to be proud of their children's sexual orientation. Yet others found that their relationships with their children grew to be closer, stronger, and more honest than ever before.
If you just found out your child is transgender, you are probably thinking that such ideas are preposterous, right?
Well here are some steps you can take that you will likely find helpful:
1) Find someone to talk to-but not just anyone, a trusted friend, relative, co-worker, or even a casual acquaintance. These trustworthy confidants let them vent but who also corrected some of the misperceptions they absorbed from society, such as transgender people are lonely, unhappy, promiscuous, not family oriented, unable to have children, and destined for an unhappy life. They also reassured parents that they and their child would be ok. So, look for someone to share you painful feelings with, make sure they are open-minded, progressive, and accepting of LGBT people.
2) If you do not have someone like this within reach, consider a professional therapist such as a social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist. Members of each of these professions follow a code of ethics that requires them to be knowledgeable, respectful, and tolerant of LGBT people. However, for good measure, before you begin ask the therapist his or her opinions of LGBT people and lifestyles.
3) Contact Parents, Family, and Friends of the LGBT community such as PFLAG. This is a national support and advocacy group primarily for parents of LGBT people that has hundreds of local chapters, so there is likely to be one near you.
4) Get education. You can find links to literature-books and articles that tell the truth about LGBT people. Education is the key towards understanding eliminating the fears you might be expecting due to the lack of understanding.
5) Let your child teach you. Know that your son or daughter came out to you, most probably because they love you and are seeking a more open, honest relationship. They may have something to teach you about LGBT people and also about acceptance and love.
The fact that you have read this far means that you are willing to take the initial step to reach out and get yourself information-and this is a good indication that no matter how badly you feel now, you will eventually feel better. Keep in mind that you have begun a journey and like all journeys, it is important to keep moving. But most importantly, you are not alone.