Children need love and acceptance. These are universal needs which are important to a child’s healthy development.
The parent who is transgendered has such responsibilities like any parent. At the same time, being a transgender parent presents unique challenges. I would like to focus on transphobia and a potential impact it can have for a transgendered parent.
One of the most saddening beliefs I have heard transgendered parents communicate is that it may be in their child’s best interest to withdraw, as a parent, to protect a child from transphobia.
It is important to acknowledge that this belief comes from a yearning to protect one’s child. Often the parent has experienced transphobic violence themselves and, well aware of the pain and hurt it can cause, seeks to shield their child from this. It is a genuine attempt to support a child which can have long-term ramifications for that relationship.
Children can sometimes develop faulty beliefs about themselves. In these circumstances a child might inadvertently take on the message “I am not worthy of love”. Children who take on this message can grow up with a sense of being ‘less than’ others which can result in creative adaptations that do not serve them in adulthood.
Remaining an engaged and active participant in your child’s life, seeking to support them through challenging times offers a transgender parent a wonderful opportunity.
This opportunity is to impart what I call a ‘higher order’ message, an unspoken gift I pick up on often in counselling sessions. What message is this?
To live one’s truth and move towards who we really are.
In a world where there is sometimes much pressure to conform to ideals held by others (including gender ideals), the decision to transition has in it much wisdom that deserves acknowledgment.
Never forget your being transgendered is a gift to your child.
In circumstances where someone feels a school is not taking your concerns about transphobia seriously, the Gender Centre can provide education and training for school staff. It needs to be reinforced that it is never OK for anyone to experience bullying or transphobic violence.
info: To arrange for counselling at the Gender Centre, call 02 9569 2366.
By ANTHONY CARLINO, NSW Gender Centre Counsellor.