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Posts from the ‘coming out’ Category

On someone ‘influencing’ a child’s gender identity

I’d like to offer a few thoughts on an issue of concern to many parents of  children that may be gender variant – that the child’s gender identity has been influenced by: a friend, a group of friends, cosplay, anime, the internet or some other person or group.
The basic question is can one’s gender identity (i.e. that inner feeling of maleness or femaleness or something in between) be at all influenced by an outside person or institution? My feeling and experience suggest that – no it’s just not possible.

Why then is this such a common concern of a parent who has been newly come out to?
I think one of two things are happening (or a combination of both) and those are:
1. Your child has encountered a new person who is exhibiting some level of “outness” as gender variant, and has, naturally enough, begun to ask themselves if they are similar in some way – and have found that they are.
2. Your child has gravitated towards a group of friends/city/college/group that is accepting of gender variance because they know internally (and perhaps unconsciously) that they have some gender dysphoria and they need a supportive environment in which to deal with it.
Now let’s look at two possibilities: 1. The child is truly gender variant or transgender and 2. The child is not truly gender variant or transgender.
In the first case of a truly gender variant child – I think this move toward an accepting group is a much needed step in the total journey of self-acceptance and social and physical change.
In the second case where the child is not truly gender variant – I think this can be understood as another of the many phases of self-exploration that young people go through trying to figure out who they are. And if no physical changes are taken in this case – then really what’s the harm in it? If the child is truly not gender variant then they will more than likely put it aside and move on to other things in due time.
Whenever there is doubt a general rule of thumb is to hold off on any physical interventions.

Thoughts for Parents of Transgender children

I had posted before about some ideas of how to come out to family, and I recently had the opportunity to be the guest speaker at a support group for parents of transgender children (part of New York City PFLAG). The following is a handout I used.  They are mostly talking points, but I think they can still be useful, so I’m posting them here.  Note that it is aimed at parents that have been newly-come-out to by mostly teenage and older children.

Thoughts on Parents coping with Transgender children

  • Keep the long term goal in mind in all communications

The long term goal is maintaining a relationship with your child.


  • Allow yourself time to process your feelings.

There can be pressure for immediate acceptance.
You are entitled to all your feelings about the situation.
Your child has had much more time to think about this and accept it than you have.


  • Communication

Listening: Don’t interrupt, don’t tune out, and don’t plan what you will say next, make eye contact, pay attention to the speakers feelings, before you give your opinion reflect back what you are heard in a non-judgmental way so that the speaker knows they have been heard or ask for clarification if you didn’t understand something.

Speaking: If you’re too angry or upset take a 20 min. break. Try to avoid blaming, ultimatums, attacking, insults, large proclamations or hurtful speech. Say what you feel clearly, don’t assume people know. (people are not mind readers). Say what you feel rather than acting it out, ex: “I’m confused and angry…”
Say where you are, example: “I don’t completely understand it but I’m listening and working on it”
Don’t triangulate; focus on you and your child not other people.
Don’t shut down communications or avoid your child


  • Telling Other family/friends

This is often the largest fear.
Let it happen when you’re ready.
Let others have their own feelings and reactions about it, don’t try and dictate.


  • Understanding and reframing

Educate yourself about transgenderism.
This is an opportunity for a more authentic relationship with your child.


Find out about Psychotherapy when dealing with Gender variance in yourself or someone close to you.

Coming Out and Integration.

I wrote recently about the ‘coming out’ process for the transgendered individual and suggested a particular method (the letter).  This post  furthers that discussion and talks about the concept of integration.

Coming out involves integration.

There’s the integration of what you suspect about yourself into what you know about yourself. This in itself can be a lengthy and difficult process and may or may not involve a full acceptance of the knowledge.

There’s the integration of what you know being known by others in your world.  This is what is typically referred to as “coming out”.   This involves letting others know.  There’s also the idea of the knowledge spreading, i.e.  people knowing who among other people in your life know and what they know.  When you look at it from a purely mathematical perspective, the permutations get very large very quickly.

Other people’s level of acceptance of you effects your level of integration into family, society, work and friends.  This can also change over time.  For example when you first come out to someone, you may be in a very beginning stage of accepting what you know about yourself.  Later on, you may have evolved with your self acceptance and integration, and the next time you talk to that person, you may be presenting a very different view of yourself.  My thoughts on this are – don’t fake it.  If you are ambivalent, or unsure or hesitant – then that’s where you are.  It may change in your own good time, but there’s no point in presenting yourself as super-trans when you’re not feeling it.  It’s ok, to take your time with your own self-acceptance process.

Perhaps the most important one is the integration of what you know about yourself being consolidated into your identity.  One small example would be having gone from suspecting you feel female to knowing you feel female, you then integrate that knowledge into your identity by wearing more female-type clothes.   This can start slow – I’ve often had people come into my office and tell me that they are wearing some male/female undergarment.

You can often tell when one has successfully integrated a sense of themselves as transgendered.   Very often people seem more comfortable talking about their trans identity and transition path and engaging in politics and activism and even forgetting about being trans and working on their careers or love lives.  This can often be confused with having attained hormones, or SRS or a new wardrobe.  The integration of being transgendered into ones identity is related to those things, but also separate.

The more fully one has integrated one’s identity, the freer they are to reach out to others, to participate in community and to engage in relationships.  I think everybody has seen examples of people with poorly integrated identity (trans, queer or otherwise) and It always has some kind of limiting effect on them.  For example, one might have a partner, but might not feel comfortable taking them to a family event.

Of course the main problem with integrating or incorporating a trans-identity into your personality is that its part of a stigmatized group and it takes some not small amount of courage to go there.  However, knowing that you are integrating an authentic part of yourself into your whole identity can help.

Find out about Psychotherapy when dealing with Gender variance in yourself or someone close to you.


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