Case vignette

Helping a parent navigate their child’s gender identity.

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Helping a parent navigate their child’s gender identity.

After her teen child (Tonia) comes out, a mother speaks to her daughter’s doctor about her fears and anxieties.

Doctor

How are you feeling about what Tonia has shared with you?

Patient's Mother

It’s so hard to wrap my mind around this. I feel… she… is still just figuring herself out. And I’m not sure what to do.

Doctor

It seems like you’re processing a lot right now about her sharing this with you, but it also seems like you’re trying hard to be supportive.

Patient's Mother

Yes, I’m trying so hard. But I worry about the life she’ll have if she continues on this path. Will she be okay? Will she be safe?

Doctor

As a parent, one of the biggest worries that you can have is if your child is safe. This sometimes comes up for parents when their child comes out as transgender and they worry about what that means for their future.

Patient's Mother

How do I help? What should I be doing?

Doctor

The best way to keep her safe and help is by offering your support. Continue affirming of her identity and make sure that she’s able to get the care that she needs.

Patient's Mother

That makes sense. I’ve been practicing calling her my daughter and have been having conversations with other family members to make sure they’re using the right name.

Doctor

That’ll go a long way. Family support and appropriate care is crucial to her wellbeing.

Patient's Mother

Thank you.

Doctor

Patient's Mother

Doctor

Patient's Mother

Things to consider.

01

It can be common for parents of transgender and gender nonconforming children or teens to feel uncertain about the best course of action, especially when they have limited knowledge about TGNC experiences.

02

Emphasizing the importance of support toward their child can help guide parents away from focusing on potential negatives of disclosure and reorienting them toward the benefits of offering support and affirmation to their children.

Question to think about:

How would you discuss gender affirmation and support with parents of transgender and gender nonconforming teens?

Ask for pronouns
Ask how the patient is doing
Ask for consent before touching
All of the above