What does it mean for them?
Does your child tell you that they’re a boy, or a girl despite you having thought they weren’t? Maybe they’re telling you that they’re not a boy, a girl, or either. Perhaps they’ve told you they’re transgender.
“Transgender” is an umbrella term typically used to describe someone whose gender is different from their gender assumed at birth (i.e., based on their sex assigned at birth). Or someone who is non-binary.
The term “non-binary” defines multiple gender groups including genders that fall between or outside of man or woman. This includes someone who experiences being a boy or girl at separate times (gender fluid) or someone who does not experience gender (e.g. genderqueer, gender fluid, agender, gender neutral, neutrois, genderless, or non-gendered).
- Being transgender or non-binary is not a mental illness or disorder and children will often know and understand their gender from a very young age. However societal pressures to conform to gender expectations, discrimination, and lack of support can all contribute to the development of confusion about their gender, dysphoria, and mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety.
Having a safe and non-judgmental environment in which they can explore their gender identity and expression is a major contributing factor to building and maintaining wellbeing, along with support from those around them.
What does it mean for you?
Being a parent of a child or young person who identifies as transgender or non-binary is also difficult. The same societal pressures which cause confusion and anxiety for your child also makes their experience and their struggles hard for you too. You love your child and want success and happiness for them but may be unsure of how their future will look for them and fear pain and judgement for them, you may even be afraid of becoming the source of pain and judgement for them!
Learning how to relate to relate to your child as they see themselves and not with how you pictured them can be hard. It can come with grief around the loss of the child you imagined and the life you pictured for them, but it can also come with joy and deeper feelings of closeness to get to know the real them. It is normal to seek support while learning to navigate this new relationship with your child, if you are finding it confusing it is because the concepts are new and/or you are experiencing grief around the changes. Seeking support shows in this place is evidence of your care and not evidence of any failing or judgement on your part.
How can we support you?
For any parents wanting professional support to:
- Learn more about or understand how their child experiences their gender, and how best to support them.
- Help their child understand and explore their gender or gender transition.
Please get in touch and make an appointment with me and we can discuss this further.
Author: Damian Vann, B Psych Sci (Hons), MPsych(Clin)
Damian Vann is a psychologist, working with adults, adolescents, and children. He is passionate about helping his clients achieve their goals and has particular interest areas in supporting parents of transgender children, LGBTIQAP+ mental health in adults and young people, older persons mental health, anxiety, and depression.
To make and appointment with Psychologist Damian Vann, call InMind 4 Health (Southport) on (07) 5627 1382