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Why be a gender-affirming parent?
So your trans kids live to be adults.
For families who have not encountered trans or nonbinary people before, it can be a huge shock when their kid says they are trans. While lots of accurate, evidence-based information is available on gender identity, we often retain the most exaggerated or inaccurate information because it’s screamed from our televisions or social media (or pulpits).
While we see more trans and nonbinary people on TV and in movies, and our current president openly celebrates the LGBTQIA community, those of us raised in an entirely binary world may filter out things we don’t understand or make us uncomfortable. This may not seem like a life-threatening emergency, but it is.
My kid has a bunch of awesome, queer-identifying friends at their middle school. Some of them have super supportive parents. One kid does not. They’ve tried repeatedly to come out to their mother and been told they are too young to know their identity, that their friends are influencing them, that they can’t be trans because they liked girly things when they were little, and that they’re not allowed to be trans until they are 20. They are consistently deadnamed and misgendered at home and by their extended family.
I can’t understate how dangerous this is. Queer kids are four times as likely to attempt suicide as their cishet peers. This number increases when they live with people who deny their identity and drops when they have gender-affirming families. This comes from nationwide data; we don’t have data yet on how living in a state hostile to gender-affirming care and trans rights affects suicide rates, but early data shows that it significantly negatively affects their mental health.
I live in Texas, which just outlawed gender-affirming care. Many of the doctors who provided gender-affirming care have left the state or quit their jobs for fear of arrest, fines, or losing their medical licenses. Child Protective Services in Texas has been empowered by the governor to investigate gender affirming parenting as abuse. Gender-affirming families with trans kids are fleeing Texas because they fear harassment by the government, having their children removed from their homes and put in the broken foster system, and because their children can no longer receive gender affirming medical care.
Just to reiterate, gender-affirming care is lifesaving. Whether it’s being accepted at home and school, working with affirming therapists and doctors, or hopefully all of these things, gender non-conforming kids are much less likely to consider or attempt suicide if they receive these types of care. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. Gender dysphoria can be excruciating, and kids who don’t receive support and care may resort to self-harm. This is not dogma; it’s science. Gender non-conforming people have always existed, in every time and place on the planet. They are not new. It is not a trend. Support and love and BELIEVE your gender non-conforming kids. It might save their lives.