Many parents with transgender kids discuss the changes their children are making or are talking about with fear and concern. Fear of the unknown, fear of others, fear for their futures. And one I hear people express most often (and that rolled in my own head the most in the beginning) is “what if this is just a phase?” What if we “allow” this and we (as parents) are WRONG? What if in two, or five, or seven years my son realizes he was a girl all along and he made a mistake? WE made a mistake?
Every single parent I have talked to in a similar situation as mine, has said this at some point.
And I think the bigger question we should be worrying about as parents is… what if it’s NOT a phase.
If this turns out to be a phase later, our kids will have spent years with supportive parents. They will know that no matter what they are loved and accepted and appreciated as themselves and for their strength, courage, and their individuality. They will see that their parents love them unconditionally and without judgement. But if we don’t take our kids sincerely and allow this to play out – wherever it is going – the repercussions of NOT are potentially catastrophic.
No parent ever wants their child to feel badly. It starts as soon as they enter this world. The first cry – we jump. We instantly want to fix whatever the problem is. We spend endless days and nights awake trying to solve the messages the new being we brought into this world is sending us.
The little one that has taken over every inch of extra space we have in our hearts from the second we laid eyes on them. We spend months or years perfecting how to translate their cries, their whines, their grunts. So we can eventually understand, without words, what they need most in the moment.
As kids grow older, our love and protection towards them doesn’t change, but morphs into something more intense. More fierce. We started with worrying about bumps on the head while learning to crawl and falls from the furniture, to fights on the playground, grades, and bullies at school. Our number of worries increases with every year our kids spend on this earth and our reactions become less of an instant need to fix the problem and more of an incessant need to analyze and dissect and understand. We need to comprehend them in their complexity, but my question to you is WHY?
Why in order to love unconditionally and be the parent that jumps instantly to their aid do we necessarily need to understand? Need an explanation? Why do we need proof that this won’t change? As humans aren’t we always changing? Ever evolving?
When it comes to something like gender, some children can’t put into words the exact way they are feeling because it’s beyond their scope of understanding. They just know things aren’t what they seem. They are different, they can tell. They know this. They could express that inside they feel opposite of what their body shows and it could be that they are gender fluid, it could be that they are transgender, it could be a number of things. But why can’t we take it for what it is and just be parents without over-thinking it until we need to? The supportive parents that they need MOST in this moment.
The “why” is obviously our fear. As parents we want to protect them. Make sure that every decision we make and every decision they make will not ultimately be one that haunts us. In my research and understanding of how you react and handle a transgender kid, pushing against what they are expressing, making them take time to prove they are who they say, dissecting everything they say and do, waiting for them to slip up…. the haunting outcome is suicide. Transgender individuals that feel supported by their families have a suicide rate of about 4%. Transgender people who were not supported? That statistic spikes up to almost 50%. That’s almost than half. It’s astonishing and more so, it’s terrifying. I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell do not want to take my chances with odds like that. AT. ALL.
When my son came out and expressed to me that he was a boy trapped in a girl’s body, he was 4. And yet, I didn’t question it. (I asked questions, sure, but I didn’t doubt him). I encouraged him to share with me how he felt. I expressed my concerns to everyone but him.
And I let him lead the way which ultimately led us down a road of fully socially transitioning before school started this year. (Which is NOTHING that’s not reversible. It’s his name, his pronouns, his hair, and his wardrobe. That’s it.).
He led us to where we are today, and because of that I feel comfortable that we have made the right decisions along the way. The worst case scenario would be that he realizes he deciphered this message his body was sending him in the wrong way and it was a phase. But my child would know that all along I supported him, I loved him, and I accepted him. I let him do what he needed to do to figure it out and my feelings for and about him never faltered or changed. He was always my child and I was always the same mama bear in his corner.
That’s the worst case scenario. Considering my son is pretty headstrong and consistent about his feelings of being a boy in his brain, I don’t see us winding up somewhere that took us in and out of a phase. I just don’t. And if we don’t find out it’s a phase… then we are left where started. Allowing him to take the time he needed in the way he needed to learn how to live as his true self.
To be himself the way he saw fit. And, again, along the way he knew he was accepted, loved and supported unconditionally.
I would never be able to live with myself if something happened to one of my children. Especially if that something was a terrible event that could have been prevented or drastically reduced by the way I reacted to something important, something they shared with me out of confidence that I could be trusted. I would hate to know my child left this world too young trying to convince me they were someone else. Or worse, they left hiding it from me completely. And for that reason alone, phase or not, I’m going to do what I have to do to support my son 100% while he figures it out.
And so, it doesn’t matter if this is a phase. My reaction and our approach would not have changed. And if you’re a parent that loves unconditionally like me, yours won’t either.
If you connected with this post here are a few others you might want to check out