My kid is trans?!
Updated: Jan 23, 2019
• By Gabriel IJ Snell •
I’m the practice manager at Walnut Psychotherapy Center, and for a long time I worked the front desk, answering phones and greeting clients. At Walnut, we see a large number trans kids and teens. When the parents of trans kids call to find a therapist for their child, I’m always struck by the intensity of emotions the parent is experiencing. As a trans person myself, I know what it was like for me to come out to my parents, but hearing these parents talk about their trans kids has left me thinking a lot about what the experience is like from the other end. The parents that we hear from care so much about their children and want to support them, but at the same time are dealing with their own complicated mix of emotions.
As it turns out, there aren’t a lot of emotional resources out there for parents of trans kids. There are resources to help parents advocate for and support their trans kids, but not much about the emotional journey parents go through. It’s inevitably an emotional experience, and just as trans kids need support as they explore gender, parents need support exploring their feelings and freeing up the psychological space needed to support their children.
With the help of the therapists I work with, I’ve put together this guide to some of the initial feelings that come up for parents when they find out their kid is trans. While this is by no means comprehensive, I hope it can be a starting point for parents as they deal with the onslaught of emotions that comes up when a kid starts expressing an unexpected or new gender identity.