What Does It Mean to Be Transgender?
People who identify as transgender feel like their gender identity differs from their physical body. Gender identity is a deep, personal sense of being male or female. Children’s gender identity is usually pretty clear by age 3, so children at a very young age can identify as transgender. Sometimes, though, children who are transgender may not come to this realization until after puberty.
Family Acceptance Is Important
Children’s mental and physical health are affected when they feel that their family rejects their transgender identity. Transgender children who feel rejected by their family are more likely to attempt suicide, develop depression, use illegal drugs, and contract HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
What can you do to help make your child feel accepted?
- Talk openly with your child and other family members about your child’s transgender identity.
- Show your child affection when he or she tells you about his or her transgender identity.
- Bring your child to LGBT events or organizations.
- Connect your child with a transgender adult role model to show options for the future.
- Stand up for your child when he or she is mistreated by someone else because of his or her transgender identity.
These behaviors can make your child feel rejected. Avoid:
- Hitting, slapping, or physically hurting your child because of their LGBT identity
- Name-calling because of your child’s transgender identity
- Excluding your child from family activities
- Blocking your child’s access to other transgender children and adults
- Making your child keep his or her transgender identity a secret
Resources and Information
There are national and local resources available to help you, your child, and your family adjust to your child's transgender identity.
Crisis Hotline Information
Standards of Care – Treatment Protocols
Information for Families Caring for Transgender Youth
- GLAAD offers a long list of resources for LGBTQ children, adults and family members related to topics such as legal issues, military, and mental health.
- GLAAD also provides a list of summer camps around the country designed specifically for supporting LGBTQ youth.
- GLSEN is a national organization that works to ensure that every student, in every school, is valued and treated with respect, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. It has local chapters in most states that provide youth support groups and community events for the LGBTQ population.
- The HRC helps LGBTQ people by increasing public understanding and promoting LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices. It offers information about each state’s LGBTQ-related policies on its website.
- For LGBTQ children and their families, HRC provides local resources such as finding doctors and support groups.
- PFLAG works to serve LGBTQ people and their allies by working with others to educate the public about the unique issues and challenges facing people who are LGBTQ. They promote opportunities for people to take action in support of LGBTQ-friendly policies, laws, and social acceptance. It also offers online education and networking.
- Specifically for family members and friends of transgender people, it published a free online book that addresses many common questions.