If your child has just come out as trans, you’re likely feeling a myriad of emotions. Confused. Angry. Upset. Scared. Disgusted. Surprised. Ashamed.
It’s important to understand that these are all perfectly normal reactions. In fact, the very first step you need to take is to accept your emotions. But the second step in the process, the more difficult part, is to pinpoint why you feel the way that you do.
For example, if you’re angry, perhaps it’s because the underlying emotion is disappointment. If you have a son who is transitioning from male to female, perhaps you’re disappointed because he’ll never fulfill the roles and expectations you had for him. You likely envisioned him dressed in a suit and tie on his wedding day, and now you have to confront the image of him in a white gown.
It’s uncomfortable and even frightening when life doesn’t go the way you planned. But it’s critically important that you confront your feelings. Ask the tough question, why am I reacting this way?
The third thing you need to do is be open and vulnerable with your child in the same way that he/she was open and vulnerable with you. This is your chance to express what you feel and why you feel that way. However, you need to do this in a respectful manner. Stick to “I” statements and avoid “you” statements.
The fourth step is to listen. Really listen. Try and understand from your child’s point of view. During this time, it’s very important that you don’t interrupt or talk over your child. Remember, just because a lifestyle or idea is different than your own, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s wrong.
The fifth step is to work towards a resolution. But in order to reach a healthy resolution, both parties need to understand one another. So if you’re still confused about what it means to be trans, you’ll need to do some in-depth research in order to gain a better understanding of what your son or daughter is going through.
Part of the resolution process might involve attending family therapy sessions as well. Basically, what you want to communicate to your child is that you love them and support them no matter what. But that message needs to be communicated not only verbally, but through your actions as well.