When you learn that a friend or family member's child has come out as transgender, it's normal to have a lot of questions. Asking questions helps to bridge the silence that can arise when you don't know how to begin talking about your friend or family member's child. Or when you don't have enough information about a topic to have an intelligent conversation about it. Questions can be conversation starters that lead to deeper discussions.
Asking good questions can help your friend or family member feel supported and cared for after their child comes out.
Not all questions are appropriate to ask, however. Here are five questions it's not okay to ask when someone's child comes out as transgender, in no particular order.
1. Are you sure? It's never okay to question what someone has told you to be true. Transgender people know themselves to be who they are, and your doubts and disbelief are best kept to yourself.
2. What happens if they change their mind? Again, this is one of those questions that is better left unasked. Questions like this speak more to your doubts and disbelief and are not helpful to your friend or family member.
3. Are they going to get surgery? Any questions regarding a person's medical transition are inappropriate and should remain unasked. It's normal to be curious about the next steps a person will take after they come out, but at the same time, it's none of your business.
4. Could therapy help them with that? It's been wildly shared in the anti-LGBTQ community and some religious groups that people who "struggle" with gender identity, gender expression, or same-sex attraction can be "cured" by what's known as Conversion Therapy. This harmful and discredited practice, however, is based on the false claim that being gay or transgender is a mental illness that should and can be cured. A person's sexual or gender identity, however, is just that, an identity and a part of who they are, not a diagnosis a psychiatrist can cure with any amount of therapy.
5. What does this mean for their future? The questions behind this question are: How will they manage college dorms? What does this mean regarding marriage? Will they have kids? This is a loaded question, and none of the answers to any of the listed questions concern you. Just like you wouldn't appreciate someone prying into your business, what another person plans to do with their life isn't yours. Just because you learned that a person is transgender doesn't mean the rest of their life is public knowledge.
While asking good questions can help your friend or family member feel connected and understood after their child comes out, asking inappropriate questions can make them feel unsupported and judged. If you need suggestions for better questions to ask, check out this post.
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