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            A young F to M’s under a tremendous amount of pressure, interior and exterior Please don’t make it worse. It would be nice if my generation was the last one that had to endure years of isolation, self-doubt and –loathing, shame, and the drug and alcohol abuse that often accompanies these feelings. You can’t control how everyone in the world treats a child. But if you can provide an oasis, even one safe place, I guarantee that’s better than most of us had it growing up.

            Let’s be clear: most of the psychological  torments suffered by transgendered kids are caused, not by the simple fact of their transgendered nature, but by the cruelty, lack of compassion, and incomprehension of the non-transgendered people around them—often, the very people a child should be able to turn to for love and support. The sense of betrayal, abandonment this causes in a transgendered child is profound. Coupled with the fact that the child knows that on a very basic level their loved ones are disappointed in and ashamed of them, leaves wounds that may never heal.


  1. Trust the child’s feelings. No genetic female says things like, “I’m really a boy” lightly. Don’t freak out. Ask non-judgmental questions. Draw the child out.
  2. Establish a habit of trust. The easier it is for the child to assume you’re safe to talk to, the better able you’ll be to understand the child’s needs, because the more  you’ll know about what’s actually going on. This may become crucial if at some point the child becomes seriously depressed, or even suicidal (in spite of everyone’s best efforts; the suicide rate among G/L/B/T youth id way higher than the national average). Also—as any teenager might—the child may get it into his head to do something not-so-clever, be it trans-related or not. But if the child stopped talking to you  years ago, then you have no chance of heading it off at the pass.
  3. There are no words for how amazing it can be to be dealt with by others as the being you know you are. If you call the child be male pronouns, and use the name he prefers, you’ll be doing more good for him than you can imagine. If you yourself have a traditional/conventional gender presentation you take this for granted. You may never have had to think about how much societal validation you receive for this, but it is there and it is constant. Try and picture what it would be like if despite what you knew to be true, you were constantly forced to wear the wrong clothes, be referred to by the wrong pronouns, were pressured into acting in a away that was completely wrong for you, and in every other way, treated like someone you weren’t. Until you
  4. Become an advocate for the child. Get on the Web. Get on the phone. Track down trans-friendly and trans-youth activities and options in your general area. If there are none, see what it would take to create some. Yes, it can be difficult to deal with a special-needs child. But please try to bear in mind that it’s always more difficult for the child, and he needs all the help he can get. As an adult you have access and resources that he doesn’t.  
  5. Examine your own feelings towards gender in general & specific genders in particular. Try to avoid letting any negative feelings about the subject taint the way you deal with a TG child. Mixed messages won’t help. If you resent males, or resent “girls who act like boys” or people who step outside social roles in general, then chances are the child will pick up on that. Also, try to convey that there are many ways to be a boy (or a girl, for that matter!) He doesn’t need to act like a macho little prick to fulfill his masculinity, any more that bio-boys need to. (The fact that a lot of bio-boys still do act like that is a matter to take up with their parents.) 
  6. He’s still a child. Love him.

 Thaniel Chase


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Last modified: 02/09/09