700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Pride Month from the Parent Perspective

Jun 09, 2021
family of four

As the parents of a transgender teenager, we look forward to June as a time to celebrate with our daughter and pay honor to the history of the LGBTQ movement. We also like to share what we’ve learned in the hopes of supporting other parents. 

When they were younger, we were often asked how we knew whether our child’s identification as a girl was just a phase? It was clear that when our child was acting like Dora the Explorer, they were playing. We all know how fun it is for kids to play dress up and act like their favorite characters. 

But when our child consistently asked when they would be a girl, and this didn’t go away over time like their favorite characters did, that was a big clue. There was also an intensity when they told us they were a girl that was very different from play-acting. We know now that a lot of children are very consistent, persistent, and insistent that they are a different gender. 

Another concern we heard was whether we were doing more harm by accepting our child as a girl. We were worried about that too and spent a lot of time talking to medical professionals who worked with families like ours. We could see that telling our child that they were a boy was causing more distress, more sadness, and more anxiety. 

By choosing to accept our child for who they were telling us they were, it reassured them that we heard their concerns and loved them no matter what. Our child’s distress, sadness, and anxiety improved dramatically when we accepted that we had a daughter instead of a son.

We also got a lot of questions about medical decisions. Prior to puberty, those decisions were allowing our child to wear clothing that made her feel good about herself and honoring her request to use female pronouns. Our daughter liked her name and didn’t want to change it, but many children do want a different name. It is so important to support them by using the name and pronouns they want and asking others to do the same. 

After puberty, medical decisions are made with your healthcare team, such as the professionals of the THRIVE Program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, who can help you and your child navigate the options that support their physical, mental, and emotional health. For us, that included medication to halt her puberty from progressing to ensure that this was the path that was right for her. It gave our family and our healthcare team time to ensure that further steps kept our daughter safe and supported her healthcare goals. Later, and after much consultation with our healthcare team, it also included medication that affirmed her gender identity as a female. 

At the beginning, it felt like every conversation was about gender and we felt scared and unsure of the best way forward. We didn’t want to make the wrong decision and hurt our child. We were afraid of how the rest of the world would treat her too. By working with the THRIVE program team, our family was able to learn how to support our daughter and her needs. We look like every other family whose biggest concerns are dominated by homework, too much time on electronics and chores. 

We would encourage all parents and caregivers to love your child for who they are. It takes a lot of courage to overcome the social cues that put girls and boys into distinct categories. If your child tells you that they are a different gender, or don’t feel connected to any gender, it is because they need you to hear them, support them, and reassure them that you love them no matter what.

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Pediatric News You Can Use From America’s Largest Pediatric Hospital and Research Center

700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.