How to be an Ally to Transgender, Non-Binary & Questioning Teens & Kids

This publish initially posted in June 2021.

Delight Month, June 2022: What Our LGBTQ+ Youngsters Face

The numbers of people that establish as LGBTQ+ continues to rise. So do political pressures and social stresses.

We do not have arduous numbers on youth. However we do have generational traits. We all know that the variety of adults figuring out as LGBTQ+ has elevated by over 60% between 2012 and 2021, based on Gallup. And of adults categorized as Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2002, 21% establish as LGBTQ+.

This yr, over 250 anti-LGBTQ+ state legislative payments will loom over Delight. Extra importantly, is the truth that this historic surge of anti-LGBTQ+ payments is made up of 200 anti-LGBTQ+ payments that adversely have an effect on LGBTQ+ youth. Whereas 1 / 4 of those payments goal to criminalize lifesaving medical take care of transgender youth, roughly 75% of the anti-LGBTQ+ payments allow the discrimination in opposition to LGBTQ+ youth in faculties, notably transgender youth.

Lamont Bryant, Youth-Nex: The UVA Middle to Promote Efficient Youth Growth

As a young person within the late 90s, I barely knew what “transgender” meant. Definitely, no one at my conservative highschool was overtly transgender or non-binary. In 2017, nonetheless, researchers discovered that 1.8% of highschool college students establish as transgender. One other examine discovered that over 9% of children have some type of gender fluidity.

The rise within the numbers will be confounding. However they can not be dismissed.

Why We Must Care

We can also’t dismiss the variety of states threatening to go payments that can restrict or utterly reverse LGBTQ+ rights. Many of those goal transgender youth by way of healthcare entry and academic alternative. Even when circuitously affected, LGBTQ+ children can really feel deeply impacted.

LGBTQ+ youth are already in danger. And transgender teenagers particularly are at excessive danger for:

  • Suicidal ideas or makes an attempt
  • Being bullied
  • Sexually dangerous behaviors
  • Substance use

Likelihood is you already know a youngster who’s LGBTQ+. And many people have teenagers in our lives who don’t establish, no less than not at all times, with the intercourse they had been assigned at start.

With June being LGBTQ+ Delight Month, it is a excellent likelihood to replicate on the best way to be an ally to transgender youth. Say your grandchild, niece, nephew, or scholar tells you they’re questioning their gender identification. You might need 1,000,000 ideas and questions. How will you help them?

Know Your Gender Identification Phrases

First, right here’s an outline of some of the phrases it’s possible you’ll hear.

Intercourse Assigned at Beginning

When a child is born, a physician labels the toddler with a intercourse — male or feminine — primarily based on a fast look at genitalia. Nevertheless, a number of elements play into intercourse and gender, a few of them genetic, some hormonal, and a few inner. Not solely can a baby have a mixture of intercourse traits, however none of those have something to do with gender, which is an innate sense of identification distinct from bodily intercourse.


Usually shortened to trans. The kid’s gender identification — their interior sense of their gender — differs from the intercourse they had been assigned at start. For instance, a baby’s start certificates says male, however they really feel uncomfortable being referred to as a boy. They need to put on attire and sparkly pink garments. The onset of puberty causes modifications that don’t really feel proper. They don’t really feel their physique matches their mind.


The gender identification of an individual whose gender matches the intercourse assigned at start.

Gender Dysphoria

A powerful feeling of misery that happens when your intercourse assigned at start doesn’t match your gender identification. For a gender dysphoria prognosis, the kid should expertise this misery for no less than 6 months and meet different standards.


The kid doesn’t at all times establish as 100% feminine or 100% male. Folks usually use these phrases interchangeably.

Gender Nonconforming

The kid doesn’t match our society’s stereotypes round how boys or ladies usually act and gown.

This actually isn’t an entire listing of phrases. Try:

How one can be an Ally: What To not Say

Mary Sullivan is the Transgender Teen Well being Clinic’s outreach coordinator. She works with the households of many transgender and questioning teenagers.

First off, Sullivan advises, verify your individual reactions. Listed here are some belongings you shouldn’t say.

“You’re Simply Going By a Part”

Sullivan acknowledges that some children could also be exploring identities or attempting to slot in in school. However the little one may additionally be experiencing true gender dysphoria. When you dismiss their emotions, they’ll really feel even worse and gained’t open up to you once more.

Even when it is a section, there’s nothing fallacious with being supportive. That features utilizing the title and pronouns that the teenager prefers.

Don’t assume being transgender means everlasting bodily modifications, like hormone remedy or gender-confirmation surgical procedure. Many transgender individuals by no means transition medically, Sullivan says. And in the event that they do, it’s a multi-stepped course of that takes time. For teenagers below 18, medical intervention requires parental consent. It gained’t be a spontaneous determination.   

“Your Life Will Be So Arduous”

Sullivan hears this one rather a lot. Additionally widespread: “I really like you, however I’m scared for you.”

It’s comprehensible to assume this, to have doubts and issues. Share these emotions together with your greatest good friend or your therapist; it looks like blame or burden to your little one. Give attention to being supportive in your conversations together with your little one.

What You Can Say: How one can be an Ally to Transgender Teenagers

 Sullivan suggests listening greater than speaking, particularly with youthful children. Ask questions like:

  • How are you feeling?
  • What would you like me to know?
  • Are you able to inform me what you want?
  • What would you like?
  • How can I advocate for and help you?
  • What makes you are feeling glad/excited/hopeful?
  • What makes you are feeling offended/anxious/unhappy?

It’s additionally OK to ask them about their plans for the longer term. That features whether or not they need to medically transition.

Later, after the dialogue, verify in with them and see how they’re doing.

Ought to You Inform the Mother and father?

When you don’t have the kid’s consent, the reply is 100% no. Don’t inform anybody with out consent.

Think about the fallout if the mother and father aren’t supportive. You possibly can put the kid at higher danger for bodily and verbal abuse and psychological well being points. Even when the mother and father present help, the child shall be damage by your betrayal and lose belief in you.

However you may say:

  • Would you want your mother and father to know this about you?
  • Inform me extra about the way you assume they’ll react.
  • We are able to discuss to your mother and father collectively if you would like.

Trans Youth Healthcare

UVA Youngsters’s has a protected, supportive clinic for ages 11-26.

Don’t push the kid to inform their mother and father in the event that they don’t need to. Respect their needs and allow them to information the dialogue.

Gender Nonconforming Youngsters

In some circumstances, the child may not inform you something. However you’re noticing modifications — say, your niece appears depressed, and her new haircut appears to be like masculine to you. Or your nephew exhibits up in a skirt.

Don’t make assumptions. Inform them what you’re observing. Sullivan suggests:

  • I discover your temper appears totally different just lately. Is there something occurring that I will help with?
  • It looks as if your fashion has modified. I prefer it; inform me extra about it.
  • You appear down within the dumps. Let me know what you imply.
  • You appear extra assured since you bought that haircut. That’s terrific.

Psychological Well being & Suicidal Ideas in Transgender Teenagers

One exception to Sullivan’s “don’t inform the mother and father” steering: suicidal feedback. However even then, she cautions, “fleeting suicidal ideas are fairly widespread” in tweens and youths.  

Attempt to decide if the kid has a plan and the power to hold it out. In that case, it’s worthwhile to inform the mother and father. By that time, Sullivan says, the kid most likely desires them to know, even when they don’t admit it. “They need no matter ache they’re experiencing to go away,” she says.

LGBTQ Psychological Well being Help

These assets supply free, confidential counseling and help.

  • The Trevor Undertaking — obtainable 24/7 for LGBTQ youth
    Cellphone: 866.488.7386.
    Textual content: START to 678-678.
    Chat on-line (laptop really useful)
  • Trans Lifeline — for all trans and questioning individuals
    Cellphone: 877.565.8860 (U.S.), 877.330.6366 (Canada)
  • Facet by Facet — Virginia-based, obtainable 24/7 for LGBTQ youth
    Name: 888.644.4390
    Textual content: 804.793.9999
    Chat on-line
  • Virginia Anti-Violence Undertaking —  For LGBTQ individuals experiencing intimate associate abuse, sexual assault, or stalking
    Name: 866.356.6998
    Textual content: 804.793.9999
    Chat on-line
  • ReadyKids — Hotline obtainable 24/7 for teenagers or involved adults
    Name: 434.972.7233
  • PFLAG Blue Ridge — Month-to-month conferences for trans individuals and their households

When Your Baby is Transgender: 5 Myths to Rethink

This video is for folks or any ally of a trans little one or teen. Sullivan explains widespread questions and misconceptions, together with puberty blockers and gender dysphoria.

View Transcript

Transcript: 1. MYTH: It is only a section. My child simply desires consideration. MARY SULLIVAN: Youngsters do need consideration generally. And a few of the issues that youngsters do as a part of their identification improvement could also be a section. Our expertise is that saying that you simply’re transgender or realizing you’re transgender just isn’t usually a section. And if all of your little one desires you to do is use the title and pronouns they’re asking you to make use of, there isn’t any hurt accomplished in doing that. As we go into medical interventions, we do extra training about what’s reversible and what’s not. However dismissing it as a section just isn’t very respectful of your little one. Notably in case your little one is experiencing lots of emotional misery round this. 2. MYTH: Gender dysphoria is a psychological sickness. As a result of we do require a gender dysphoria prognosis that generally individuals take into account gender dysphoria a pathology that means that one thing is fallacious. Gender dysphoria does trigger emotional misery that may manifest in anxiousness, melancholy, and suicidal ideation. However gender dysphoria by itself doesn’t sign that any person is mentally in poor health. 3. MYTH: Puberty blockers and hormones will hurt my little one and have lasting results. I believe it is vital to level out that any time you are introducing medicine, there may be the likelihood for unintended effects. Usually the unintended effects pale compared to the emotional misery that any person with gender dysphoria is experiencing. Puberty blockers are great as a result of they supply type of a break, and their results are reversible. When somebody begins cross-sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone, a few of the results of these drugs should not reversible. Which is why we proceed cautiously and slowly when prescribing them. And we usually begin with low doses. 4. MYTH: Supporting my little one would imply I approve of gayness, and it will go in opposition to my faith. I hear this one rather a lot too, and sometimes when I attempt to delve in what’s behind this assertion, I discover lots of worry that they are experiencing primarily based on what they have been advised by different relations or members of a religion neighborhood. I additionally level out that there are a lot of spiritual denominations who have no downside with any person figuring out as LGBTQ+ and that they should determine what’s most vital for their very own little one or youngsters. A variety of our mother and father who’re initially non-supportive change into far more supportive as soon as they see how effectively their youngsters do after they’re capable of be their true selves. 5. MYTH: I’m dropping my little one. I gently attempt to level out to them that they are making it about themselves and never about their little one. I can perceive them maybe feeling that manner, and that could be one thing they’ll share with a therapist or a detailed good friend, but it surely’s not an empowering message to convey to their youngsters. These kiddos not solely survive however thrive. And I believe the extra affirming and empowering the messages they get from their mother and father, the higher they’ll do.

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