Being an advocate for their child

The parents and carers we spoke to talked about discrimination and prejudice that trans children and adults face in the society. Some parents felt they had to become advocates for their children. Adele said this was because parents are at the ‘forefront’ of the battle to make education, healthcare and communities better for trans children ‘when they’re still young and they haven’t [necessarily] got those skills yet to advocate for themselves.’ In this section you can read about parents becoming advocates for their trans and gender diverse children in their communities.

Interview 1 spoke about how parents are advocates for their trans children in all areas of life and the emotional toll when facing hostility.

For some parents, having a trans, or gender diverse child meant that they took on the role of educators. This meant challenging the discriminatory views of colleagues’, acquaintances’, or sometimes strangers’ in relation to trans children and people. Parents often felt that being trans was misunderstood by the society and that their role was to address that whenever they could. For example, Andrew said: ‘I feel like I want to educate people, because our daughter is in a very small minority. It’s a genuine health issue.’ When his colleague said he ‘didn’t agree’ with people being transgender, Richard found this view to be old-fashioned and said that if they actually knew someone who is trans they would be able to understand them.

Challenging discriminatory or uninformed views was sometimes done together with the young trans person. Lisa described a situation when her and her son intervened in a conversation about being trans as a ‘choice’ that a group of people were having at a caf√©. They offered their support and advice.

Lisa and her son intervened and offered support to a group of people in a cafe talking about being trans in a way that they found disrespectful and uninformed.

Mel’s way of challenging people who questioned her and her partner’s choice to support her trans step-daughter was to tell them how much happier the child was as a result. She said: ‘I don’t wanna try and convert them, but I do put across, well this is how it is for us.’

Mel felt that she had to educate people who were questioning her support for her trans stepdaughter. Her way to do it was to talk about the positive impact of the social transition on her stepdaughter.

For some parents, letting others know that they have a child who is trans or gender diverse was another way of educating people or stopping transphobic jokes, or comments. Andrew came out as a parent of a trans child to his dog walking friends, to stop them making derogatory comments about a trans woman who lived in the neighbourhood.

Andrew felt the need to tell his dog walking friends that his child was trans, because he was not comfortable with them making jokes about a trans woman who lived nearby.

In our interviews, parents and carers also spoke about how they actively looked for support for themselves and their family and how they searched for information.

See also Resources for links to further information.

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