Book Reviews

Review: Transgender Children and Youth by Elijah C. Nealy

Transgender Children and Youth: Cultivating Pride and Joy with Families in Transition is the all-in-one guide parents of transgender children need. It covers essential issues transgender children and their families face.

Photo Credit =Trans Tool Shed

The book covers foundational topics such as basic terms and vocabulary and what it means to be transgender. There is a whole chapter on trans kids and therapy because it is essential that kids get support from mental health professionals when necessary. It then moves on to coming out and the different types of transitions.

“As society becomes more aware of gender identity and more accepting of young people whose gender identity may not line up their assigned gender, the need to ‘come out’ may become increasingly less relevant for trans and gender-diverse children.” (p. 63)

Next, there is a whole chapter on transgender adolescence and the specific challenges they face. The author details the emergence of transgender identity during adolescence and what that looks like. He then talks about how many teens do not have the support of their peers or parents. As a result, the book details the risk factors for these teens, what behaviors might emerge, and what parents can do to support them. There is a separate section for trans youth of color.

The next section of the book is about the people who surround transgender children or teens. Two chapters are for parents. The target audience for those chapters is a mental health professional, but their information is worth a read if you are a parent. Some of the subtopics are: Is it my fault? When parents are surprised. Fear and anger. Grief and loss. What about school? Meeting other parents. All those questions that raced through your mind in those first days are addressed in these chapters.

“It’s important to remember that grief, loss, anger, and fear do not necessarily equal rejection. Sometimes parents need these initial emotional responses acknowledged and validated before they are able to reach back and recover the unconditional love they have for their child-transgender or not.” (p. 156)

The book then goes on to talk about school and preparing for college and beyond. And finally, it ends with the mental health professional. Then, there’s a fantastic index full of resources you might need. And a section with forms that you could use if you need to send one to a mental health professional to get help for your child.

While the book isn’t specifically for parents, all parents of transgender children would benefit from reading this book. It’s also perfect for teachers, health care providers, mental health professionals, and anyone else who works with children. It’s the kind of book you will pull off your shelf and refer to again and again.

At 395 pages, Transgender Children and Youth is a bit of a more extended read, but it’s easy to break up into smaller chunks. The book contains questions for reflection for parents, schools, and medical providers, and the resources in the index are worth the price of the book alone. Note: If you buy the Audiobook, it has a slightly different name, but it’s still the same book.

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