Ali

Mother of a young trans daughter. Ethnicity: White British.

It took quite some time for Ali’s daughter to come out to her. When she eventually did, Ali was so relieved and immediately tried to support her even though she felt unsure what support services were out there. At first, Ali felt she could not relate to comments that she would feel grief over her child’s transition. However, after a year she suddenly felt intense bereavement over the fact that she could not display old photos of her daughter pre-transition. However, she now feels she knows her daughter better and wishes she could have supported her sooner.

Ali is a mother of a young trans daughter. Growing up, she noticed that her daughter was really anxious so decided to refer her to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) through her general practitioner (GP). After a three month wait, her daughter was able to see a therapist, but the sessions only lasted for about twelve weeks and her daughter did not feel able to come out as trans in these sessions. Her daughter’s mental health was declining and she was self-harming. Just before the twelve weeks were over, Ali’s daughter came out to her – she did tell the therapist, but they did not make the referral to Gender Identity Development Services and they pursued the referral through their GP once her daughter had gained the confidence to tell the GP. This caused an initial delay exacerbated by the then growing waiting times.

Being on the waiting list was incredibly difficult for her daughter, partly because she had begun puberty and was seeing changes in her body she was not comfortable with, this caused her daughter to become extremely anxious and have panic attacks. Something which did help during this time was certain online resources and support networks and having group therapy through her school. Her daughter did not feel able to tell the school about her gender identity so she did not receive trans specific support and had to maintain a male appearance and school uniform which added to her distress.

When asked how her family reacted to her daughter’s transition, Ali says her other children were very accepting. Her husband, on the other hand, had more difficulty understanding because he had recently experienced a stroke. During this time, Ali found the support of the Gender Identity Development Services helpful, but it was very difficult to discuss everything because the appointments were only an hour every four to six weeks. The therapist was very good at helping her daughter come to terms with herself and her appearance. However, it was a very slow process and her daughter was desperate to progress with other aspects of her transition.

Ali says she was so relieved when her daughter came out as trans and there was no longer an elephant in the room Something that Ali points out is how some parents feel bereaved as if they have lost part of their child when they transition. At first, she did not feel this way. However, a year after her daughter’s social transition she suddenly felt upset over how she could not show pictures of her pre-transition. As she puts it, she felt like she had never really known my child

Something that has been a huge relief is the improvement in her daughter’s mental health and overall wellbeing. She says that her daughter has not self-harmed in about a year and her academic life has really picked up. Her daughter is a lot more confident and positive and has been able to go on holiday with her friends, something she would not have done pre-transition. She says, she is not worried anymore that the police will tell her that her daughter may have died from suicide.

When asked what matters most to families with trans children, Ali has one word speed She says that young people need to access services immediately together with psychological support and this support should not be limited to just the mental and medical side of transitioning, but also the practical side.

Ali felt the Gender Identity Development Services (GIDS) could offer more practical advice.

Ali didn’t understand people’s feelings of bereavement but did feel she missed a big part of her daughter’s life before the transition.

Although Ali had some previous knowledge about being trans before their child came out, they felt their understanding was quite black and white’ compared to what they know now.

Ali speaks about her daughter’s mental health issues, figuring out how gender identity might be part of the problem and the difficulties she had trying to access support for her daughter.

Ali felt the process to get her daughter hormone blockers took too long. She said that her daughter has experienced unwanted physical changes.

Her daughter was desperate to start hormone therapy and Ali considered private providers as she worried she might get hormones from the internet.

Ali learned about the many ways people can identify when her daughter started attending the Gender Identity Development Services.

Ali thought there were a lot of uninformed opinions about trans children and these could undermine the support that exists for young trans people.

Ali’s daughter no longer self-harms and there has been a huge improvement in her mental health since her social transition.

Ali talks about the positive support that she and her daughter received from their GP.

After Ali’s daughter attempted suicide, she received time-limited support from CAMHS. She felt cuts in CAMHS’ funding meant her daughter was left unsupported.

Ali talks about her daughter’s experiences with the GIDS. She felt that she understood why the process was slow, but also why her daughter found it frustrating with time slipping away rapidly.

Ali says the NHS was going to drop us like a hot brick’ when she considered paying privately for her daughter’s hormone therapy.

Ali talked about her experiences of her daughter’s referral to the Gender Identity Development Service and how she felt her daughter was cut loose and left to float’ by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.

Ali felt relieved that her daughter could trust her enough to come out to her.

Ali talks about her daughter not being out’ at school and how that made her feel.