Image is of a parent and chid playing a game at a table in front of a couch. The parent and child are looking at each other and both smiling. Loving your child for who they are is easy when you remember that they are the same person they have always been.

Loving Your Child for Who They Are

coming out parent support transgender Apr 23, 2024

As parents of transgender children, we can sometimes get caught up in thinking about the past. This is especially true right after our children first come out when our brain is still adjusting to making new connections and associations regarding our children. 


And it's especially true for parents of teenagers and young adult (or older) children, who have had decades or longer to get used to the idea of who they thought their children were. 


When our children come out as transgender, they are still the same person they have always been. It's only their name and pronouns and outward presentation that change. 


However, our memories of our children as they were growing up no longer match the children in front of us. 


Chance Pena, in his song "I Am Not Who I Was," sings, 

"So if I fly too far

Will I still have a place inside your heart?

And when you see what I've become

Will you love me for who I am, not who I was?"


Loving your child for who they are isn't difficult because we all love our children and always will.  


But sometimes, there can be a conflict between our heads and our hearts as we sort out the image we carry of who our child was then vs. who they are now. This is where grief comes in. 


Grief, in this instance, is related to losing the idea of the child you thought you had. You still have your child, but the child you thought you had and the dreams you had for their future as that version of your child are now gone. 


It can be easy to get caught up in the "who my child once was" mindset. You may find yourself sharing how close you were to your child in their previous gender and reminiscing about all the fun things you did together. You might feel like now that your child is a different gender, you will lose that closeness and no longer be able to participate in those activities. 


Remember that your child is still the same person you were close to before, and they likely have the same interests, even if they develop some new ones. 


Who they are on the inside has stayed the same, even if who they are on the outside looks different. 


We can't control the emotions we feel after our children come out, especially during the first year when there is so much change and adjustment. But we can keep loving our children the same way we always have. 


Showering our children with love is one of the most important ways to show them our support, especially as we adjust to their new gender. 


When our children feel loved and supported, it improves their mental and physical health. According to the 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health, "LGBTQ youth who felt high social support from their family reported attempting suicide at less than half the rate of those who felt low or moderate social support." 


It's okay if you need some time to adjust after your child comes out or even if you feel sad. But don't forget to love your child and to keep loving them. 



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