Imagine if your child came to you one day and said they want to be a girl when they currently are a boy. How would you react to it? Let alone know what to do?
A lot of parents don’t know how to be able to understand why suddenly their child has come to them saying this.
So where to begin? Feeling lost as a parent, the first thing to do is acknowledge what your child is saying and listen to them. Now, if they continue to say this over a week or two or more, then it is highly likely that they are transgenders. For those who don’t know what this means, it is someone whose gender identity doesn’t match their gender, or simply put a boy who identifies as a girl, has a strong sens that they are a girl and wants to live as such. Some children may have a strong sense they don’t totally identify as either boy or a girl, and some may feel that they are a combination of both.
Children in most, if not all, cases know that they are transgender these days. They are very initiative and researchers at the University in Seattle found gender identity – the concept of knowing whether one’s self is male, female, or non-binary – is as strong in trans kids as it is amongst those identifying as cis which means that you identify as the same side. Hence, cisgender means that you identify your gender same as the body that you were born in. Often, the term gender-diverse us used to describe people who are non-binary and/or transgender or gender-fluid where one’s gender is not fixed.
Parents of transgender children go generally take awhile to come to terms that their child or one of their children is transgender which is obviously quite challenging and for some may be a bit scary as it is unknown to them. Finding support both medically and psychologically, as well as socially, for yourself as a parent or as parents is critical and important for all involved. It can be hard to reach out sometimes however in the long run the sooner you reach out for support, the easier it will start to become.
Talking to your local medical professional psychiatrist or psychologist will assist you both individually as well as a parent in understanding why your child is transgender, and help you deal with the situation better. Also, seek the support of family and friends that you believe will be open-minded enough to deal with this, one who will, when ready, not only help you but also the transgender child integrate into the family and the society better.
There may be issues around schooling and their friends and any backlash from schoolmates if the transgender child is already at school, as well as some family and friends may not be as accepting as others. In circumstances like this you can also reach support groups such as “Parents of Gender-Diverse Children” which will not only help you as a parent/s but also the transgender child. For those outside Sydney, there is also in NSW – The Gender Centre is a statewide support service and as such provide support to all rural and regional areas within NSW.
Just remember, at the end of the day, transgender children are also children with feelings and emotions and deserve the help and support they need as they progress in life.
Melissa Griffiths is a transgender authority and advocate who lives in Melbourne. Melissa is also a diversity and inclusion consultant who has managed to get a gender identity policy introduced at various horse racing clubs including the BRC, MRC and VRC.
Melissa is a mistress of ceremonies and inspirational/keynote speaker as well as being a recipient of Australia Day Achievement Award. She is also a director of Elder Rights Advocacy.
Melissa is a media commentator raising awareness about bully, harassment, diversity, inclusion, and making workplaces more inclusive for transgender people.
Melissa was recently interviewed for online TV show The Informer and for channel nine online article about transgender kids. Melissa has also featured on Studio 10 in 2017 and also been interviewed on radio or for various podcasts. She has also been featured on the front cover of Sofya Style Magazine in the UK.
You can read more about Melissa on her website: www.melissagriffiths.com.au.