If you’re the parent of a youth with a non-binary gender identity or a youth who identifies as transgender, you may be going through or have gone through a number of emotions. These may include love, fear, sadness, grief, pride, worry, and happiness. Parents may feel loss for the idea or image of the child they had that has been replaced with the child who is asking for transition or pride that your child has the courage to speak up for their needs. You may have concern about the future barriers your child may face or happiness that your child is comfortable trusting you. All of these emotions are expected and no parent is going to have the exact same experience as another, however, there are some described stages that parents of transgender youth may experience.

In this post, guest author Christine Sogn Mental Health Therapist will help us briefly go through these stages.

Pre-contact: this is prior to knowing your child is gender non-conforming. There may be a belief that gender is binary – you’re either a boy or a girl.

Ambivalence

  • Realization – Long term game
  • Primary drive – trying to understand
  • Feelings – torn between needs
  • Skill sets – bargaining
  • Beliefs – I want to do this perfectly, but I can’t
  • Blind spot – keep patient

Reconciliation

  • Realization – A shift begins
  • Primary drive – a desire for reconnection
  • Feelings – resolving experience
  • Skill sets – Ability to listen
  • Beliefs – supporting my child is more important
  • Blind spots – Is there going to be a “fix”? Will movement forward bring happiness to my child? Oppression will forever be a part of my child’s life.

Congruence

  • Realization – We are on the same path with our child. No easy fixes – but we do this together
  • Primary drive – protect us and our kids are safe
  • Feelings – exhaustion, depression
  • Skill sets – advocacy to get “stuff done”.
  • Beliefs – we are in this together
  • Blind spots – Does binary really exist for me? Can I accept my gender queer kid?

Empowerment

  • Realization – There is value to this experience
  • Primary Drive – This is our new normal
  • Feelings – resolved, stable
  • Skill sets – Calling other parents out. Facing new challenges with more balance and patience
  • Beliefs – this experience has made me who I am
  • Blind spot – have I become complacent?