As parents, the greatest gift we give our children is love and support. From the time they are small, our children look to us for validation that our love for them is strong, unconditional, and will not end. This is even more true when our children come out as transgender. They worry that our love for them will not be strong enough to overcome this change and that we will reject them for revealing this truth to us. Here's a hard truth: you can't love your child and reject them for being transgender.
If you refuse to use your child's new name and pronouns, that is a form of rejection. You are telling your child that you don't respect them enough to make this change. You are letting whatever fears, misbeliefs, or theologies you hold stand in the way of loving your child.
Love and rejection do not go hand in hand.
This is not the case, like many situations in life, where we hold two things together in a both/and way of thinking. You either will love and support your child, or you will not.
Loving and supporting your transgender child looks like accepting them for who they are. It means using their new name and pronouns. It means working through whatever you are struggling with on your own time but still loving your child. It's okay if you have questions or feelings. Those things are normal. It's not uncommon for there to be questions and concerns. Seek professional help if you need to. That's part of your journey. You can still support your child while working through your own stuff.
Saying you love your child but refusing to use their new name or pronouns isn't love; it's rejection in the form of transphobia.
Saying that people who are transgender have a mental health condition isn't loving your child. Using religion as a reason not to support your child isn't showing them love. Your child hears, "I don't love you, and the reason is that you are transgender."
No child wants to feel unloved and unwanted by a parent, but that happens when you refuse to use your child's name and pronouns. It's what happens when you choose your religion over your child. Your child hears this when you tell them that their being transgender is a mental illness and they need to go to therapy to be cured. It's how your child feels when you say, "I love you but..." or when you tell them you wish they were the same person they have always been.
Love is not conditional, especially the love between a parent and a child.
Is it hard when your child comes out as transgender? Absolutely. You could have trouble adjusting to a new name and pronouns, and there are resources to help you with that. However, choosing not to use your child's new name and pronouns is different. That is a form of rejection and of being unsupportive. Saying, "I love my child, but I can't accept they are transgender," is a form of rejection, not love.
*Supporting parents so they can support their children is a hill I will die on, so please don't comment here about how I need to stop telling people they are wrong for doing so. Your comments will be deleted.
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