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FAQ for Parents & Caregivers

 

My Child Just Came Out as Transgender or Non-Binary—What Do I Do Now?

1. Breathe. Listen.

Respond slowly (rather than reacting quickly). Breath. Listen. Tell them you love them no matter what. Breathe. Listen. Know that you are not alone—your whole family has support and community available for this journey.

2. If your child asks you to call them by a different name/pronoun, affirm them and follow their lead.

This is a huge way to show that you are on their team, supporting them on their gender journey, wherever it leads. (Not affirming name/pronouns is a major signal for trans/non-binary youth that they do not have your support or trust.)

3. Reach out to TransFamily Support Services for a Family Engagement Session.

This is a video meeting (usually), for your whole family, where you receive grounded support for wherever you are on the journey (not a diagnosis)—this includes specific resource recommendations (therapists, doctors, books, etc.) and connections with support groups (for youth and for their parents/guardians).

5. Remember these gems of wisdom from parents/guardians/therapists who’ve been on this journey with trans/gender-diverse youth:
  • This may feel new and sudden to you but, most likely, your child has been on this journey internally for a long time, and has finally gathered the courage to let you in. You may feel unready, but your child is probably beyond ready to move forward with living as their true gender by the time they come out to you.
  • Will the gender identity your child expresses today change later? The truth is: it doesn’t matter. For your long-term relationship, what matters is that they know you support them, affirm them, and are listening to them, all along the way.
  • It’s OK to have whatever feelings you have—but save expressing them for when you are alone with trusted adults in your support circles. Your child does not need to hear your grief, doubts, fears, or struggles about their gender right now. 

This may feel like a shock or crisis to you today, but it won’t always feel like this. It truly does get easier. And there’s a wonderful community of families on this journey with you.

I Need to Find a Good Therapist for my Newly-Out Transgender/Non–Binary or Gender-Questioning Child — What do I look for?

 

1. Make sure the therapist is someone your child will be comfortable talking to.

Ask your child if they feel they’d be most comfortable with someone of a certain gender, race, age, or other factors, to help narrow your search.

2. Insist that the therapist is experienced and trained with transgender/non-binary youth—not just a therapist who checks the LGBTQ+ box!

Insurance companies will often tell you any therapist who checks that box will do, but it’s simply not true. Therapists without proper training/experience with trans/non-binary youth can do emotional harm in their lack of true understanding/knowledge of working with youth with gender dysphoria. You can check therapist’s websites and/or call them to find out their training and if they’re actively working with trans/non-binary youth.

3. Seek out referrals from within the support communities for parents/guardians of trans/non-binary youth.

Within our support groups and Family Engagement Sessions at TransFamily Support Services, and in other supportive spaces, parents/guardians know and will share about effective and trustworthy gender therapists. They’re a golden resource.

4. Know that you may need to work with your insurance provider to get coverage for an out-of-network therapist—and TransFamily Support Services can help you with this.
  • We all prefer in-network providers financially, and TFSS can support you in trying to find one. But sometimes qualified therapists for trans youth are not in network. TFSS can assist you in filing claims and appeals to get the most possible coverage for the best-fit, qualified therapist for your child.

I’ve Made a First Appointment with a Therapist for My Transgender, Non-Binary or Gender-Questioning Child — What Should I Expect?

 

1. Before you go, be sure that the therapist is experienced/trained in working with transgender/non-binary youth.

For help in doing this, see the other TFSS info sheet: “I Need to Find a Good Therapist for my Newly-Out or Questioning Transgender or Non-Binary Child—What Do I Look For?”

2. Know that a good gender therapist is not going to make your child convince or prove that they are or are not transgender or non-binary.

No test exists that will confirm or deny your child’s gender identity. A good gender therapist will create a safe space, meet your child where they are, and listen, affirm, and guide them toward what makes them feel most aligned and peaceful within themself. With young children, the therapist will likely talk more generally in terms of gender diversity and work closely with parents.

3. Know that nothing medical is going to happen in a therapy appointment.

 A gender therapist’s job is to provide mental and emotional support for trans/non-binary youth and their families. While they may discuss medical transition steps with tweens or teens who desire it (not younger children, who only socially transition), they are not involved in the medical transition process directly and will not do anything medical with your child.

4. Be prepared for the therapist to talk with you and your child for a part of the appointment, then to talk alone with your child.

Even with incredibly supportive parents, some trans/non-binary youth may feel more comfortable sharing certain thoughts, experiences, or questions with a therapist before they can share them with you. It can help you both to honor this.

5. Understand that it may take more than one session for your child and/or you to feel clarity and relief.

Everyone’s gender journey is different. Some trans/non-binary youth may only need very few therapy appointments. Sometimes parents may need only a few sessions to get the family one the right  page so everyone can move forward together. Other youth may need ongoing, longer-term therapy if they’re questioning or struggling with other issues alongside gender identity. 

6. Know that you may need to work with your insurance provider to get coverage for an out-of-network therapist—and TransFamily Support Services can help you with this.

We all prefer in-network providers financially, and TFSS can support you in trying to find one. But sometimes qualified therapists for trans youth are not in network. TFSS can assist you in filing claims and appeals to get the most possible coverage for the best-fit, qualified therapist for your child.

My Transgender or Non-Binary Tween/Teen Wants to Meet with a Doctor to Discuss Medical Transitions Options — What Should I Expect?

 

1. Before you make an appointment, be sure that the doctor is experienced/trained in working with transgender/non-binary youth.

Medical doctors who work with trans/non-binary youth can be endocrinologists, pediatricians, adolescent medicine or family medicine doctors—but not all doctors in these categories have experience/training with trans youth medical transition. Try to find a doctor in a hospital-based gender clinic or a referral through the trans family community (such as TransFamily Support Services support groups or Family Engagement Sessions, or other groups like PFLAG). Call the doctor’s office to confirm their training/experience with trans/non-binary youth; if they have none, keep looking.

2. Know that a good gender doctor is not going to make your child convince or prove that they are transgender or non-binary.

No test exists that will confirm or deny your child’s gender identity. A good gender doctor will create a safe space, meet your child where they are, and listen, affirm, and guide them toward the informing of the medical transition steps that make the most sense for them. The team, made of youth, parents, doctor and therapist, will work together for the right next steps.

3. Be prepared for the doctor to talk with both you and your child for part of the appointment, then to have some time alone with your child.

Good gender doctors highly respect trans/non-binary youth, including giving them more privacy for parts of the exam and conversation. They also know your child may have questions they don’t want to ask in your presence, so it’s important that they can do that with the doctor.

4. Expect the doctor to go over various treatment options, reversibility, and side effects with you and your child.

It can be a lot of information, so you may want to take notes. And ask any questions you have—including which options the doctor has seen work most effectively, and which side effects they’ve seen most often, with other trans youth in their practice.

5. Understand that if there are two parents or legal guardians, both will be required to sign permission forms for medical transition steps.

If one person has full legal custody, they will need to show court documentation of this if they want to be the sole signer.

6. Know that you may need to work with your insurance provider to get coverage for an out-of-network doctor—and TransFamily Support Services can help you with this.

We all prefer in-network providers financially, and TFSS can support you in trying to find one. But sometimes qualified doctors for trans youth are not in network. TFSS can assist you in filing claims and appeals to get the most possible coverage for the best-fit, qualified doctor for your child.