In the last few years, the public has become more aware of transgender people and the struggles they face. With that awareness has come wider acceptance, but also questions – what does being transgender really mean? What kind of support should non-transgender people provide? For parents of transgender kids, these issues are even more pressing than they are for the general public. If you’re struggling to understand the needs of a transgender child, we here at Sage Day therapeutic school have put together a quick primer on understanding your child’s experience, and advice on how to help them thrive.
Understanding What “Transgender” Really Means
Most people have a basic understanding of what “transgender” means, but do not have a very firm grasp on the details. In fact, “transgender” is a deceptively broad term which incorporates a wide range of behaviors and gender identities.
For most people, saying someone is transgender means that they identify as the opposite gender from their biological sex. The most popular example of a transgender person in recent culture would be Caitlyn Jenner, who has been undergoing a public surgical transition from male to female. While Jenner is most certainly a transgender person, her experience – physically transitioning from one gender to another – is not the only one that fits under the label.
In some cases, a transgender person who identifies as female but is biologically male (or vice versa) may have no desire to surgically transition. Despite this, they still identify as a member of the other gender, and dress and act accordingly. In other cases, someone may identify as “gender fluid,” a.k.a. belonging to neither gender, or as belonging to both. When someone’s identity does not comfortably fit with either gender, they are known as gender fluid.
The condition known as gender dysphoria is often associated with being transgender. Gender dysphoria is the medical term for an extreme discomfort with one’s assigned gender. As with other psychological conditions, gender dysphoria can cause serious stress and confusion in those who have it. Gender dysphoria is more than just having hobbies that are usually associated with another gender or not displaying all the usual behaviors associated with being male or female. Rather, it is a source of distress extreme enough for someone to completely reject the identity of the sex they were born with.
Tips for Parents of Transgender Kids
- Understand the difference between gender atypical behavior and gender dysphoria. A boy not wanting to play sports or a girl not wanting to be a cheerleader are not necessarily signs they may be transgender.
- Give your child room to experiment with how they present their gender identity in public and privately.
- If your child is transgender and is having trouble fitting in or being accepted at school, consider enrolling them in a therapeutic school environment that will support their search for a gender identity they are comfortable with.
Sage Day therapeutic schools provide a healthy learning environment for transgender teens and preteens, as well as any other kids who aren’t being given the chance to succeed in a normal schooling environment. For more information, contact us at 877-887-8817.