When your child comes out as transgender, they get to decide if they will go through a social, medical, or legal transition, none of those, or all of those. What they choose determines if they will change their name, their pronouns, how they dress and do their hair and makeup, and how they present themselves to the world.
If your child chooses to go through a medical transition or changes their gender presentation or both, it opens them up to scrutiny from others. Unfortunately, this also means that people will pass judgment on your child while they are in the early phase of their transition, or the in-between stage, when they may look more like the gender they were born as, somewhere between two genders, or how they look may not align with how they identify. People may accuse them of not being transgender enough, not passing, or still being male or female when they are not.
In other words, people will judge your child based on their perception of your child's appearance instead of who your child says they are.
Is that fair to your child? No. Is it frustrating and heartbreaking to you as a parent? Absolutely. As parents, we want nothing more than for our children to be happy and feel supported, including being affirmed in their gender presentation.
It's hard to reassure our children that they are good enough and trans enough (although there is no such thing as being transgender enough, at times like these, that's how they feel, that they aren't transgender enough) when people are making them feel they are not.
So as parents, what can we do?
- Remember that no one else's opinion of your child matters. If your child feels confident in their looks, that is the most important thing.
- Remind your child that saying they are transgender is what makes them transgender, not their gender presentation or any form of transition.
- Ignore what other people say. This is easier to say than do, but we can model how to do this for our children. Have them ask themselves, "How do I feel about myself right now?" and "Do I want to let this person's words steal my joy or take away my inner peace?"
The answer to those last questions is usually no, and asking them helps center us back to how we feel and away from what other people think.
The sad reality is that other people will think negative thoughts and have opinions about our children. We can't change those thoughts and opinions about our children, no matter how much we don't like them.
We can change how we, and our children, react to those opinions. When we respond in a way that draws recognition to what others say, it fuels their need for attention and can often make matters worse. Ignoring their opinions and judgments shows you, or your child, aren't bothered by what they are saying, and eventually, they lose interest.
So while it's hard to ignore people who are passing judgment on our children, let's not let them be the ones who determine how our children feel about themselves or set the mood of our homes. Do your best to drown out the noise and ignore people whose opinions don't matter.
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