Transgender Children: Frequently Asked Questions

Keep the school informed from the beginning. Make the faculty and administration another part of your child's team. Ask them for their help as opposed to demanding it; ask them to protect your child from bullying and to inform you at all times of any problems. Most problems are based on society's lack of understanding. Therefore, be prepared to be the teacher. Again, equip yourself with information and educational packets to help school personnel understand and help your child. There is protection through education.

5. What about dating?

Dating is an issue for all parents, regardless of their child's identified and biological gender. As parents, we all hope that we have equipped our children with enough pride and self-esteem that they will be able to choose "nice" people to date. We also hope that we have taught them when and where sexual activity is appropriate.

The most important part about allowing your child to date is teaching him or her to be comfortable about "who" they are and how they differ. As they build relationships, they need to know how and when to inform friends and the importance of doing so. The danger arises when a "surprise" is discovered in a place where your child may not be safe. Making sure that your child has the "right tools" to build strong relationships is the best weapon against a dangerous situation. Parenting with common sense really gets pushed to the limit in this arena.

6. Will you allow your child to have surgery?

This is entirely up to the family. Finding a doctor to perform sex reassignment surgery on a child under the age of 18 is extremely hard if not impossible. There are a few doctors in Thailand who have reportedly been performing this surgery on children as young as 14 with great success. This author has no opinion either way; there are consequences to performing surgery as well as not.

Take one day at a time. Hormone blockers and hormone therapy are now being prescribed to children reaching puberty to alter and control the secondary sex characteristics in trans people. It is highly advisable that you do your homework about these treatments before contacting a physician or making the decision to not do anything at all. Any decision you make about your child's adulthood should come only after you have a thorough understanding of all the consequences.

The best advice: Never say never. Do not plan too far ahead and never make a decision that cannot be changed. Surgical changes are forever and should be left up to the individual whenever possible.

7. Aren't you scared that something bad will happen to your child?

Yes. I am scared something bad may happen to either of my children. Because trans people are at high risk of being victims of hate crimes, it is important to instill a strong sense of values, including good self-esteem and positive decision-making skills in your trans child.

More important, it is the belief of this author that the best way to protect our children is by educating the public. With increased awareness, society will soon begin to understand that transness is not about a person's genitalia; it is a condition of the brain. Because science is many years away from affecting brain development, our only choice as parents of trans children is to help them accommodate their bodies to live as normal a life as possible.

8. Do you tell the parents of your child's friends?

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