On Being a Trans Parent of a Trans Child
[Content note: This has been shared with our child’s consent, “so kids like me feel less alone.”]
Last summer, our 6-year-old told us they were nonbinary and wanted to use “they/them” pronouns. At first, they didn’t want to tell many people, but they soon started opening up and sharing with other children. Most of the time, kids respond by telling them being nonbinary isn’t real. What was once something they were excited to share with strangers on the playground is becoming a source of pain, because they continue to be invalidated.
Soon after, they wrote in their journal, “I don’t like being genderfluid because it keeps being mixed up? I hope you understand? Love you.” Society keeps telling them their gender identity isn’t real—whether it’s when they go to the community pool and the buildings are labeled by gender or when they’re constantly misgendered.
This doesn’t end when you get older. It turns into strangers asking “are you having a boy or a girl?”, essentially letting you know they don’t believe you’re real as a nonbinary person.
When they wrote the entry above for a book they’re making about gender identity, we were listening to a Pause on the Play podcast episode about mental health together.
The co-host, @ericacourdae, shared, “It is so important to have people around you that remind you that it’s possible to be whole, no matter where you are in that journey and for every one of those people to show up as their authentic selves—as their whole selves—and they remind us that it’s safe to do as well, even in those moments that it feels anything but safe to do so.”
After hearing that, my child asked if they could have a trans therapist to talk to about their gender. We are privileged enough to make that a reality. And it’s important to find ways to continue to affirm them in our shared spaces.
It’s never too young to start discussing gender identity with children. Much like anti-racism work, just because you don’t think it affects your child (which it does), doesn’t mean your child isn’t affecting others. I recommend checking out “The Every Body Book” and “It Feels Good to Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity.”