Support for Parent Whose Adult Child Identifies As Transgender (2022)

We don’t know if she’s tried to change her anatomy, but she has taken on a manly appearance with clothing and hairstyle. She also changed her name and insists that we use only masculine pronouns when referring to her. I’m devastated. Sometimes I’m so angry I could scream. Other times I just sit and cry. We love our daughter, but we don’t want the influence of transgenderism in our home (we still have younger kids with us).

ANSWER:

We’ll cover several thoughts in this Q&A, including:

  • Caring for your own heart
  • Talking with your daughter
  • How to handle names and pronouns
  • Whether your daughter knows Christ
  • Talking to younger siblings
  • Finding ongoing help

But before saying anything else, we want you to know that our hearts go out to you. Our prayers are with you, and we’re privileged to come alongside you in your pain and confusion. The conflicting emotions you’re experiencing — crying one moment, angry the next — is a common and understandable reaction. Any loving parent in your position might feel similarly.

You also may be struggling with grief, the natural reaction that happens when we suffer loss — and you have lost something significant. Maybe it’s the image of and beliefs you had about your daughter. Maybe it’s your perception of yourselves as parents. Or maybe it’s your hope for grandchildren. Whatever the case, it’s important to identify and acknowledge the reality of these losses.

At some point, you’ll want to sit down and talk calmly with your daughter. But we know that won’t be easy because parents in your situation commonly want to react out of the anger, fear, or pain they feel. With that in mind, be aware that your conversations will probably be ongoing; don’t expect to resolve everything at once. You’ll also want to make room for continued tension and grief.

So the first thing to do? Take care of your hearts. Remember that you can only control your own choices and actions, not your daughter’s. Focus mostly on yourselves, and let Christ’s character guide your attitudes and approach.

Care for your own hearts

Before moving ahead to talk with your daughter, get support from people who have the maturity to walk with you in such a difficult season — a pastor, mentor, close friend, small group, or a Christian counselor you already see.

(Video) Is transgender identity fixed? (especially for ROGD teens)

Reach out and dig deep

Many couples in similar situations don’t want to tell anyone what’s going on, which is understandable. But Christians make wiser decisions in the context of a grounded faith community — even if that connection is with just one other mature believer. If there’s no one who you’re willing to trust at this time, we can help you find a Christian counselor who’s well-informed about issues surrounding transgenderism.

Don’t be afraid to dig into research in the light of God’s truth and with the help of caring Christian friends. Turn to those who follow the full counsel of Scripture (the character of God and the larger picture of the whole Bible). And if you need help preparing to talk with your daughter, our article “Male and Female He Created Them” may be especially helpful.

(As an important side note, keep in mind that transgenderism and homosexuality are different. They often operate independently of one another. And in certain respects, transgenderism can be the deeper and more complicated issue — and have little or nothing to do with same-sex attractions or sexual behaviors.)

Remember: What’s happening isn’t about you

Above all, remind yourselves that what’s going on is not about you. If your adult daughter is drawing conclusions about her sexual identity, she’s old enough to think many independent thoughts and process many sources of input.

That said, it’s possible that your daughter might bring up legitimate concerns from the past. If there are issues related to your relationship for which you have responsibility, ask forgiveness. Then, take steps to make amends — with your daughter and any other people who may have been hurt by your attitudes and actions.

However, try not to blame yourself for your daughter’s transgender identity; the situation is much more complex than that. No good will come from trying to take responsibility for your daughter’s choices or to carry a heavy burden of false guilt and condemnation. In fact, that will prevent you from effectively showing her God’s love.

Also, do your best not to think that this situation is a threat toyourimage or reputation. Instead, concentrate on doing whatever it takes to find firm footing and get yourself healthy so that you canbe therewith your daughter in this moment. She needs you to demonstrate steady faith and calm integrity, perhaps now more than ever.

Talk with your daughter

When you feel ready, ask your daughter if she’d be willing to sit down and talk with both of you about the way she sees herself and what she’s told you. If she agrees, keep your focus on two overarching goals:

(Video) SUPPORT: Alternative to affirmation of transgender / ROGD teens (PART 1)

  • Maintain your relationship with your daughter.
  • Maintain a godly influence in her life.

Affirm your daughter

As you move forward (remember, this conversation will be ongoing), take the initiative toaffirmyour daughter. Make a sincere effort to connectwith her at the heart level. Stay in relationship with her and let her know that nothing can ever make you stop loving her or remove her from God’s care.

In the process, stay unified as a couple as you address the situation; it’s important to demonstrate that the two of you are on the same page. And when you talk, use first-person words – Iandwe– instead ofyou-based language, which can easily be heard as controlling, directive, blaming, shaming, scolding, or self-righteous.

Author Jeff Johnston says, “One of the deepest questions in the human heart is this: If you know the worst about me, will you still love me?Affirm your child in your unconditional love for [her]. Let [her] know you care — whatever [she] struggles with. There is deep healing in receiving love and affirmation from you.”

For example, you could say,We’re glad you’ve shared this with us. We want to know what you’re going through, so we’re glad you’ve chosen to talk with us about this issue. We love you and will always be there for you no matter what.

Remind her that love doesn’t always mean agreeing

At the same time, remind your daughter that loving unconditionally doesn’t mean loving without concern — or that you’ll always agree with her. God loves us unconditionally, but He also cares deeply about what we do, what we say, and how we view ourselves.

Loving your daughter as a person created in God’s image and affirming the permanence of your relationship with her is separate from agreeing that her views and life decisions are morally good. In an adult relationship between parents and a grown son or daughter, it’s important to find a way to agree to disagree. That’s especially true when it comes to values and morality. Your unconditional love for your daughter doesn’t depend on agreeing in those areas.

Help your daughter talk it out, not act it out

As you talk with your daughter, ask her respectfully if you can make a request:

We know that you’re an adult and we can’t control your feelings and perceptions, or your choices. We just want to tell you how we’ve learned from experience that it’s always a good idea to go slow when making big life decisions.

(Video) How To Support Transgender Children

That’s especially true when it comes to your sexuality and personal identity. So we want to suggest that you hit pause before you embrace a transgender identity based on what you’ve been experiencing. You owe it to yourself to filter out all the cultural and political noise on this subject and take an honest look at your options through the lens of your deepest values.

Stress the importance of taking a descriptive rather than aprescriptiveapproach. In other words, invite your daughter totalk it out instead of actit out.

Encourage her to express her feelings, wants, hopes, and fears without assigning them to any specific category or putting a label on herself. Suggest that she research the potentially harmful consequences of medical “solutions” like hormone therapy or sex “reassignment” surgery. And be sure to follow all this up by doing everything you can to help your daughter feel better about herself without labels.

How to handle names and pronouns

The question of whether to use a name and pronouns different from your daughter’s biological sexisdifficult. This is one of those issues that doesn’t have a clear-cut biblical answer, and so every believer needs to be “fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5). From our perspective, though, the important thing is to preserve your connection with your daughter. In other words, put the relationship first.

Do your best not to makeherintegrity issueyourintegrity issue. Calling your daughter by a male name and pronouns might be uncomfortable, but youmightstill choose to comply. Why? Because staying connected with her isn’t an endorsement of her decision. Using a different name or pronouns in a limited waycouldhelp maintain a conversational connection for the sake of the larger, loving influence.

But if you feel that using such language violates your conscience, it might be a good idea to honestly and compassionately tell your daughter (truth with love). Sit down with her and explain your feelings as calmly and respectfully as possible. Say something like, You’ve had a long time to come to this conclusion about your sexual identity. Consider giving us the same amount of time to catch up. Please don’t expect us to change our perspective and feelings overnight.

At the same time, do what you can to slow things down. Ask your daughter if she’d be willing to work through the implications of her request together with you. Say, Our relationship with you matters too much to give you an impulsive answer. Then, be diligent in prayer and leave the outcome in God’s hands.

Does your daughter know Christ?

Another important consideration in all of this is your daughter’s personal belief system. Does she consider herself a Christian?Is Jesus her Savior and Lord? The answer to this question will have a significant impact on your conversations with her.

(Video) Watch As A Dad Struggles With Meeting His Daugher As A Woman For The First Time

If shedoes think of herself as a believer, urge her to carefully examine her faith convictions and give thempriority over everything else. Encourage her with the truth that there’s wisdom in giving greater weight to biblicalvalues than tofeelings.

You can end your conversations by saying, We want you to know that we will be reading and learning about this topic because we care about you. If you’re willing, maybe we could read and learn together.

Talk to younger siblings

When you’re ready to talk to other family members in your household about what’s happening, keep these points in mind:

  • Use age-appropriate language to tell younger children that their sister is going through a tough time.
  • Share details only on a need-to-know basis.
  • Acknowledge and empathize with your children’s emotional reactions. Each one may need different kinds of help to sort out their feelings.
  • Tell the kids that even though you’re committed to biblical standards of morality, you’ll never stop loving your daughter.
  • Ask the other kids to join you in treating their sister with love and respect, and in praying for her.

Where to find ongoing help

We can’t overemphasize the value of working with a professional counselor who has deep knowledge about the topic of transgenderism. Would you let us help?

We have a staff of trained family therapists who can give you sound advice and practical assistance. Call us for a free over-the-phone consultation. Our licensed or pastoral counselors would welcome the chance to talk with you in more detail. They can also suggest referrals toqualified counselors and Christian therapistsin your area for ongoing support.

Resources

If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

Understanding the Myths of Gender Identity and Transgenderism

The Journey Back to My True Identity

(Video) BONDING: Alternative to Affirmation for transgender / ROGD teens (Part 2)

Transgender Resources

FAQs

Does my daughter have gender dysphoria? ›

Children are typically diagnosed with gender dysphoria if they have experienced significant distress for at least six months and at least six of the following: strong desire to be of the other gender or an insistence that they are the other gender. strong preference for wearing clothes typical of the opposite gender.

How can I help my daughter with gender dysphoria? ›

Your child might change their name, pronoun, hairstyle or clothes. For gender-diverse children and teenagers who have gender dysphoria, affirming their gender can help reduce distress. Talking with your child about what they want and what they're comfortable with will help them.

How do you react when a child comes out as non-binary? ›

Tips for supporting your non-binary child
  1. Show acceptance and love. Once your child comes out to you, make sure they know you accept and love them. ...
  2. Avoid calling it a phase. ...
  3. Use their preferred pronouns and/or name. ...
  4. Know when they need extra support.
30 Jun 2021

How do you deal with gender identity issues? ›

Where to Begin?
  1. Do Your Research. There is growing recognition that gender is not a simple binary (male and female), but rather a spectrum. ...
  2. Show Respect. Be respectful of an individual's affirmed gender identity, name, and pronouns. ...
  3. Be an ally and advocate. ...
  4. Get support if needed.

What happens if you don't treat gender dysphoria? ›

Risk-taking behaviors and self-harm. Substance misuse. Sexual health concerns. Social support from family, friends and peers — a protective factor against developing depression, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, anxiety or high-risk behaviors.

Can gender dysphoria go away? ›

It found that 84 percent of kids with gender dysphoria eventually desisted, or came to feel comfortable with their birth-assigned gender.

Can gender dysphoria be caused by trauma? ›

Gender Dysphoria and Complex Trauma

Maltreatment experiences may include: severe neglect; exposure to domestic violence; intensive, painful medical conditions; and physical and sexual abuse (Zilberstein, 2014). Often, children suffering from complex trauma face a combination of these experiences (Ford et al., 2010).

How do parents deal with gender dysphoria? ›

Share your concerns – many parents shy away from being open about concerns regarding their child's gender dysphoria out of fear of hurting the child. Ask questions – asking questions about your teen's experience of gender dysphoria is a way to communicate openness, interest, and genuine caring.

Can gender dysphoria be misdiagnosed? ›

There is no medical test for gender dysphoria and there are cases where sufferers have been misdiagnosed and subsequently “detransition”.

How do I help my child transition to a female? ›

Doctors can prescribe estrogen or testosterone at gradually higher amounts to mimic the puberty of the female or male gender. The Endocrine Society recommends that kids start taking these hormones around age 16, but doctors will start them as early as 13 or 14.

How do you address a non-binary parent? ›

Some parents decided to go with mashups or even shorten words you may already be using for yourself. Take the word nonbinary, for example, and shorten it to words like Nobi and Nopa. If you use gender-neutral pronouns like ze/zir, maybe Zaza or Zizi fits.

What does it mean if my child is Nonbinary? ›

Children who do continue to feel they are a different gender from the one assigned at birth could develop in different ways. Some may feel they do not belong to any gender and may identify as agender. Others will feel their gender is outside of male and female and may identify as non-binary.

At what age does gender dysphoria develop? ›

We found that nearly all TM and TW first experienced GD by age 7 years (gender identity typically becomes constant at ages 5-7 years),1 which is only 1.5 and 2.2 years later than each cohort's first life memories (which typically occur at ages 3-4 years).

At what age does a child view gender as permanent? ›

Stage 3: Gender constancy (by age 7)

By about age 6 or 7, children begin to understand that sex is permanent across situations and over time. Once they develop this understanding, they begin to act as members of their sex.

What factors affect gender identity? ›

Factors that Influence Gender Identity

Biological factors that may influence gender identity include pre- and post-natal hormone levels and genetic makeup. Social factors include ideas regarding gender roles conveyed by family, authority figures, mass media, and other influential people in a child's life.

What is the most effective treatment for gender dysphoria? ›

Treatment for adults
  • psychological support, such as counselling.
  • cross-sex hormone therapy.
  • speech and language therapy (voice therapy) to help you sound more typical of your gender identity.

Whats the difference between dysmorphia and dysphoria? ›

Those with body dysmorphia have a distorted view of how they look, while those with gender dysphoria suffer no distortion. They have feelings of anxiety and depression, as they truly know who they are on the inside, despite this not fitting with their biological sex.

What kind of doctor can diagnose gender dysphoria? ›

Primary care physicians often play an important role in diagnosis and initiation of treatment of gender dysphoria. However, gender dysphoria is preferentially diagnosed by a specialized psychologist or psychiatrist.

What is an Autogynephile? ›

Autogynephilia is defined as a male's propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought of himself as a female. It is the paraphilia that is theorized to underlie transvestism and some forms of male-to-female (MtF) transsexualism.

What are the signs of gender dysphoria? ›

Symptoms
  • A difference between gender identity and genitals or secondary sex characteristics, such as breast size, voice and facial hair. ...
  • A strong desire to be rid of these genitals or secondary sex characteristics, or a desire to prevent the development of secondary sex characteristics.
26 Feb 2022

Does dysphoria go away after transitioning? ›

Many transgender people who take feminizing or masculinizing hormones, estrogen or testosterone respectively, report improvement of emotions as their gender dysphoria lessens or resolves. In general, a person transitioning from male to female (MTF, transwoman) takes feminizing hormones that may reduce libido.

Why do people develop gender dysphoria? ›

The exact causes of gender dysphoria are not entirely understood, but several factors may play a role. Genetics, hormonal influences during prenatal development, and environmental factors may be involved. The onset of gender dysphoria is often during early childhood.

What triggers dysphoria? ›

“There are different things that might trigger your dysphoria, such as seeing a photograph of yourself, looking at yourself in the mirror, looking at yourself naked, being intimate with someone, feeling that your voice is too feminine or too masculine, being misgendered, being perceived as your assigned gender, being ...

Can gender dysphoria be caused by stress? ›

For some individuals, the stress caused in these situations by feeling a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity results in gender dysphoria.

Can ADHD cause gender dysphoria? ›

People living with ADHD may question their gender identity or experience gender dysphoria more often than people without ADHD. But there's no evidence to support a direct cause-and-effect relationship between ADHD and gender nonconformity.

Does hormone therapy help with gender dysphoria? ›

Feminizing hormone therapy can: Make gender dysphoria less severe. Reduce psychological and emotional distress. Improve psychological and social functioning.

Is gender dysphoria a symptom of bipolar disorder? ›

Hypersexuality and gender dysphoria have both been described in the literature as symptoms of mania. Hypersexuality is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 as part of the diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder.

When should you let your child transition? ›

“Then, after careful assessment, if you want to move on to hormone therapy, it's somewhat easier to get the outcome that you want.” The typical recommended age to start hormone treatment is 16, based on best practice standards set by transgender and endocrinology organizations, but the timing, Dr.

Can parents change their child's gender? ›

If you and the other parent agree, you can ask the court together. You file a petition, go to a court hearing if needed, and get a decree recognizing your child's gender and changing their name. The process generally takes up to 3 months.

What age can you get top surgery? ›

Though most individuals undergoing top surgery are 18 or older, younger individuals may be considered for the procedure if the patient, their legal guardians, and their mental health professional are in agreement that top surgery is appropriate.

What is a non-binary parent called? ›

For the dads, we've got “Dad,” “Daddy,” and “Papa,” as well as “Dadda,” “Papi,” “Pabbi,” and more. Nonbinary parent names include “Maddy,” “Adi,” “Poppy,” and “Nibi.”

What are some names for non-binary? ›

Nonbinary people may also choose to identify as genderfluid, agender, genderqueer, or enby.

What does Juxera mean? ›

Juxera is a gender identity created by Tumblr user wulfgendur in 2016. In their post, wulfgendur defines the term as “a gender relative to female, but is something separate and entirely on it's [sic] own.” The term itself is composed up of the Latin juxta (“near)” and era (“lady”). Juxera flag / wulfgender.

How can I help my non-binary teenager? ›

  1. Check in. If you think your child is questioning or exploring their identity, begin by asking casual, nonthreatening questions. ...
  2. Let them lead. ...
  3. Send safe signals. ...
  4. Hold space for change. ...
  5. Do the work. ...
  6. Seek help. ...
  7. Join our discussion group here to talk about parenting and work. ...
  8. More reading:
28 Jul 2020

Why does my daughter want to change her name? ›

A child's request for a name and pronoun change comes from a strong feeling that their current name and pronouns don't reflect who they feel they are inside. Young children may express this spontaneously. Teens, on the other hand, generally speak up only after giving the matter a great deal of thought.

At what age does gender dysphoria develop? ›

We found that nearly all TM and TW first experienced GD by age 7 years (gender identity typically becomes constant at ages 5-7 years),1 which is only 1.5 and 2.2 years later than each cohort's first life memories (which typically occur at ages 3-4 years).

What are the signs of gender dysphoria? ›

Symptoms
  • A difference between gender identity and genitals or secondary sex characteristics, such as breast size, voice and facial hair. ...
  • A strong desire to be rid of these genitals or secondary sex characteristics, or a desire to prevent the development of secondary sex characteristics.
26 Feb 2022

At what age does a child view gender as permanent? ›

Stage 3: Gender constancy (by age 7)

By about age 6 or 7, children begin to understand that sex is permanent across situations and over time. Once they develop this understanding, they begin to act as members of their sex.

Can gender dysphoria start at 13? ›

While symptoms of gender dysphoria often appear in early childhood, it's not uncommon for them to first appear during adolescence or, in some cases, even adulthood.

Can gender dysphoria be caused by trauma? ›

Gender Dysphoria and Complex Trauma

Maltreatment experiences may include: severe neglect; exposure to domestic violence; intensive, painful medical conditions; and physical and sexual abuse (Zilberstein, 2014). Often, children suffering from complex trauma face a combination of these experiences (Ford et al., 2010).

What kind of doctor can diagnose gender dysphoria? ›

Primary care physicians often play an important role in diagnosis and initiation of treatment of gender dysphoria. However, gender dysphoria is preferentially diagnosed by a specialized psychologist or psychiatrist.

Can gender dysphoria happen in adulthood? ›

Gender dysphoria and/or coming out as transgender can occur at any age. The DSM-5* distinguishes between Gender Dysphoria in Childhood for those who experience Gender Dysphoria before puberty. The diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria in Adolescents and Adults can occur at any age.

What is the best treatment for gender dysphoria? ›

Treatment for adults
  • psychological support, such as counselling.
  • cross-sex hormone therapy.
  • speech and language therapy (voice therapy) to help you sound more typical of your gender identity.

What triggers dysphoria? ›

“There are different things that might trigger your dysphoria, such as seeing a photograph of yourself, looking at yourself in the mirror, looking at yourself naked, being intimate with someone, feeling that your voice is too feminine or too masculine, being misgendered, being perceived as your assigned gender, being ...

What is a Detransitioned woman? ›

Detransition is the cessation or reversal of a transgender identification or gender transition, whether by social, legal, or medical means.

What are the three stages of gender constancy? ›

a child's emerging sense of the permanence of being a boy or a girl, an understanding that occurs in a series of stages: gender identity, gender stability, and gender consistency.

What factors affect gender identity? ›

Factors that Influence Gender Identity

Biological factors that may influence gender identity include pre- and post-natal hormone levels and genetic makeup. Social factors include ideas regarding gender roles conveyed by family, authority figures, mass media, and other influential people in a child's life.

How can a man tell if a child is his? ›

Dr Yvonne Holt, Chief Medical Officer at Next Biosciences, advises that the best way to find out if a child is really yours, biologically, is to do a paternity test. According to the company “DNA paternity testing determines the biological father of a child.

How do parents deal with gender dysphoria? ›

Share your concerns – many parents shy away from being open about concerns regarding their child's gender dysphoria out of fear of hurting the child. Ask questions – asking questions about your teen's experience of gender dysphoria is a way to communicate openness, interest, and genuine caring.

What is an Autogynephile? ›

Autogynephilia is defined as a male's propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought of himself as a female. It is the paraphilia that is theorized to underlie transvestism and some forms of male-to-female (MtF) transsexualism.

Can ADHD cause gender dysphoria? ›

People living with ADHD may question their gender identity or experience gender dysphoria more often than people without ADHD. But there's no evidence to support a direct cause-and-effect relationship between ADHD and gender nonconformity.

Videos

1. #45: Pia [Personal Story] - Parent of a Trans Teen
(Jessa Zimmerman, MA)
2. Mom Says She’s Ashamed To Be In Public With Transgender Child
(Dr. Phil)
3. How families can support transgender and nonbinary teens
(PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs)
4. Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality | Helen Joyce | #287
(Jordan B Peterson)
5. CBN NewsWatch AM: September 13, 2022
(CBN News)
6. Parents, Children, and Transgender Identities
(Brazelton Touchpoints Center)

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