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              beautiful post by an anonymous parent.....very moving

              "what if its just a phase?"

              "good for you for supporting him"

              "you should make him wait for T until (random age)"

              "what if he regrets it?"

              "but it can't be real, I didn't see any signs"

              "you must be wonderful parents"

              "in the end, we don't have a choice". That's the quote my husband and I keep telling the therapist, each other, and as an answer to all of the above. We can argue, give statistics, reason it out, seek out professional help. But, when it comes right down to it, we have two options. Get on the train, or let the train leave without us.

              We are at a station, the train is leaving NOW, we can't stop it. We can't even slow it down. We don't know what station it will stop at or even if it will ever stop. We might even end up at our intial station. Maybe not. But, our child is on the train. We love him unconditionally. So, we get on the train and trust. We hope you'll join us. But, we won't get off the train...no, not even if you scream at us to get off from the platform. Because our child is on board. We could grab him and force him off but he would just run back on as it leaves and never ask us again to join him. What would you do? We choose our child. Always.

              The Social Aspects of Gender Dysphoria: Part 2 of Our Dysphoria Series

              A recent study by M. Paz Galupo, Lex Pulice-Farrow, and Louis Lindley looks at the social aspects of gender dysphoria. This social realm is a very real aspect of gender dysphoria for many trans, non-binary, and gender diverse youth, but it’s left out of many definitions of gender dysphoria. We at TYEF are writing this follow-up to our previous blog post to give parents further insight into how their trans child may be experiencing gender dysphoria – both physically and socially.

              This wonderful book by Tony Ferraiolo features illustrations by transgender youth where they explain their experiences with gender dysphoria. Check out both the first edition and the second edition.

              This wonderful book by Tony Ferraiolo features illustrations by transgender youth where they explain their experiences with gender dysphoria. Check out both the first edition and the second edition.

              The distress caused by gender dysphoria is significant and largely caused by a misalignment between the body and mind (or soul) of trans youth. However, according to this study by Galupo et al, gender dysphoric distress also comes from a trans person’s daily social interactions in a society dominated by non trans persons, or “cisnormative”. The study discusses different types of social “external triggers” for gender dysphoria, with one of the biggest triggers being misgendering. As most trans youth can confirm, being viewed by others as the wrong gender can exacerbate gender dysphoria. Misgendering is also a type of “microaggression,” and this can cause trans youth to experience difficult feelings such as anxiety, fear, worry, and even trauma. Ensuring that people involved in your child’s life are consistently using the correct name and pronouns is essential for improving your child’s mental health and alleviating their dysphoria. The social nature of all this shows how dysphoria has both physical (i.e., bodily incongruence) and social aspects.


              The study goes on to look at how these external social triggers spark a process of “internal processing.” When trans youth are misgendered in public, many report experiencing “intrusive thoughts” and a “preoccupation with how other people were reading or thinking about their gender.” For trans people, this internal processing often extends to worries about how people have read their gender in past social interactions, as well as anxiety about how they will be perceived in future situations. Such internal turmoil can be jarring and all-encompassing, especially for youth who desire to live “stealth” (i.e., when nobody around them knows they are trans). This internal mental distress is an often-overlooked aspect of gender dysphoria, showing how complex dysphoria can be. So, when your child comes to you with concerns about their gender dysphoria, remember that their distress could be coming from both physical bodily incongruence and deeply uncomfortable social situations. All of these aspects of gender dysphoria involve clinically significant distress, often tied to feelings of extreme anxiety and worry.


              The study also looks at how gender dysphoria “interrupt[s] social functioning.” This disturbance can come in a variety of forms for trans youth, such as not talking in public because of worries about one’s voice being gendered incorrectly, or perhaps even refusing to socialize due to fear of discrimination. If your child exhibits these types of difficulties with social interactions, it’s worth considering whether their gender dysphoria may be playing a role. Many of our youth at TYEF have reported that their main concern for returning to school has to do with navigating social situations (this could include worries about discrimination, fear of being gendered incorrectly in public, anticipation of future social interactions going poorly due to internal rumination, and more). So, if your trans child has social anxiety (or other worries about being in public), there is a good chance that this largely stems from the difficulties of interacting with others in a society where most people are not transgender.

              This also ties in with another important point: if a trans youth has mental health issues, these may be tied to societal discrimination rather than a potential medical diagnosis. While any young person – including trans youth – may be diagnosed with a range of mental health issues, it’s important to remember that for trans youth these issues almost certainly come from social discrimination or legitimate fear of it.  In any case, consulting with a trans youth experienced medical professional is important.

              Finally, the study looks at how “the social context for gender dysphoria” often improves as a trans person progresses in their transition. Throughout this process, TYEF trans youth report that people increasingly view them as their true gender, thereby significantly lessening social triggers of gender dysphoria. This points to another important point: the only “cure” for gender dysphoria is transitioning. While dysphoria may not be completely eliminated, in the vast majority of cases it is significantly improved as a child progresses in their gender transition.


              So, the next time your child talks to you about their gender dysphoria, remember that they may be experiencing both bodily and social distress. Some of the best ways to help them are consistently affirming their gender through using the correct name and pronouns, encouraging them to dress and act in a way consistent with their gender identity, distancing your child from non-affirming friends or family, and reassuring your child that you love, accept, and support them for who they truly are. Ultimately, trans children just want to be seen and accepted for who they truly are.

              See the academic study here.

              Authors and date of the study: M. Paz Galupo, Lex Pulice-Farrow, and Louis Lindley, 2019

              What to Say When Your Child is Struggling with Gender Dysphoria: A Parent's Guide


              “My child comes to me saying that they’re struggling with gender dysphoria, but I don’t know how to respond.” Lots of well-meaning parents approach us with this very important question. So… what should you say and do?

              Genuinely listen to your child and truly sympathize with what they’re telling you. Be patient. The DSM-5 recognizes gender dysphoria as a medical condition (not a mental disorder as per outdated definitions). Your child’s concerns are legitimate, backed by science, and extremely real. Your child knows who they are, and it’s the job of parents and providers to assist them on their gender journey and offer unwavering support. Clearly tell your child that you love, accept, and support them for who they really are. Let’s all see our children the way they see themselves.

              The DSM-5 defines gender dysphoria in children as a “marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender, lasting at least 6 months.” The DSM-5 lists several criteria for recognizing gender dysphoria in varying age groups, all of which can be found on TYEF’s “Resources for Parents” page. Gender dysphoria often causes extreme clinical distress and anxiety for the child, and it can result in self-destructive behavior if left unchecked. The severity of your child’s distress must be emphasized here - it can be all-encompassing. Gender dysphoria is one of the scariest things that a child can experience. The extreme incongruence between their body and mind can be incredibly painful. It is a common yet serious issue, and many youth can lose hope if they don’t feel supported. Support from a parent or guardian is integral to providing comfort, improving mental and physical health, and ensuring that your child doesn’t lose hope.

              One of the best things you can do when your child talks about their gender dysphoria is to listen to their needs. Many gender dysphoric youth feel that they are alone, and that nobody could ever understand what they’re going through. Let them know that you really do understand what they’re going through and that you know how important their concerns are. If your child communicates to you that they need to seek medical treatment for their dysphoria, act on this by finding a transgender-affirming doctor or endocrinologist. TYEF has an extensive list of medical contacts, so you can always contact us. A Google search of trans youth-supportive medical providers in your area could also be beneficial. Consider looking for medical support out of state if necessary and feasible.


              Your child may express their need for other non-medical methods of alleviating their gender dysphoria. These could include (but are not limited to): wearing the clothes and accessories of their affirmed gender, cutting or growing out their hair, shaving or not shaving their body hair, and altering their voice. There is a good chance they will be interested in using gender-affirming gear such as binders (for flattening their chest), gaffs (for hiding the genitals of a child designated male at birth), or breast forms (many of our youth like to call these “chicken cutlets” because of how they look). Again, communication and genuinely listening to your child are key here. Discuss options with them for implementing their transition goals, medical and non-medical. Approaching their concerns and desires with the upmost earnestness and sincerity will mean the world to your child who just wants to be seen for who they truly are.

              Think of some comforting words and phrases which communicate to your child that you understand them, and that you will do everything in your power to assist them in their gender journey. Consider saying something like this: “I’m listening. I believe you and I’m going to do whatever it takes to support you and get you everything you need. I love you for who you are, and I fully accept your true identity. How can I support you?”


              Also tell you child that you’re doing research to learn about gender dysphoria and trans topics. They will appreciate your taking time to truly understand what they are going through. To see a list of official TYEF recommended readings, see our “Resources for Parents” page. You’ll also find information about our binder donation program for low-income families there.

              TYEF is always here to support trans youth and their families. Tell your child about our popular trans youth camps, and direct them to our “Resources for Youth” page. Introduce your child to TYEF’s support groups, and find local trans/LGBTQ+ youth organizations near you so that your child can find their community. At the end of the day, trans youth want to feel seen, heard, and taken seriously. Listening to them and safely connecting them with other trans youth will help incredibly.

              Thank you, parents, for all that you do. The fact that you’re reading this shows your support and acceptance for your child – and that means everything to them. Let’s see our children how they see themselves.

              Banner image credits: https://www.parents.com/parenting/dynamics/raising-a-transgender-child/

              Taking Down Old Pictures


              Many trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming youth may feel deeply uncomfortable having pictures of themselves pre-transition around the house. These pictures can trigger a youth’s gender dysphoria, reminding them of a painful past life which wasn’t right for them. Old pictures can convey to youth that there used to be (and perhaps still is) an incongruence between their own deeply held gender identity and their body. These difficult feelings can evoke emotions of disorientation, dysphoria, discomfort, unhappiness, trauma, and more. Zada Kent, the mother of a transgender son, writes that her son experienced gender dysphoria upon seeing pre-transition photos of himself that “didn’t coincide with who he is.” Gender dysphoria is an important medical matter that needs to be taken very seriously, so listening to your child’s concerns is essential.


                          In these situations, it is important for parents and family members of trans youth to listen with an open mind. Leave aside your own feelings, because your child’s feelings are likely more intense than you imagine. Your child feeling comfortable and validated in their identity is more important than keeping up old photographs on public display. As Zada Kent earnestly puts it: “removing some family photos off my walls . . . seemed like an easy price to pay for my son’s mental well-being.” While not all trans youth are unhappy having pictures of their past selves on display, a majority of them are. So, it’s important to approach this topic with sensitivity, an open mind, and an understanding heart.

                          Many parents report feelings of loss when their child undertakes a gender affirmation, so it’s understandable that removing old family photographs could exacerbate these emotions. Irwin Krieger writes in Counseling Transgender and Non-Binary Youth that “it helps parents to know that these feelings [of loss] are common. Parents may need to grieve.” Krieger goes on to say that “one of the best remedies for parents’ sadness is seeing their child flourish in their affirmed identity.” It’s normal to grieve the loss of the child you thought you had – but they are still the same person. This is a point many trans youth try conveying to their parents who are struggling to cope with their transitions – that they are ultimately a more authentic, happy, and true version of themselves. Who your child is as a person hasn’t changed, they are just affirming their own identity. And taking down old photographs may be a part of this affirmation.


                          In addition, keeping up pre-transition pictures could “out” your child to others who are not aware of their trans identity. This can create awkward situations that may trigger your child’s dysphoria and cause them to feel deeply uncomfortable.

              So, try keeping old photos in your dresser or a shoebox – somewhere that your child won’t be forced to see them. This way, you can reminisce in past memories privately while protecting your child from the emotional turmoil of seeing themselves before they were living authentically. It’s possible that your child may not be bothered by these photos later on in their transition. But for now, just listen to them and do what you can to make them feel at ease.

                          Sarah J., a transfeminine author from An Injustice! Magazine, has a very creative approach to dealing with old pictures. She says that digitally ‘regendering’ old photographs to make yourself look like who you know yourself to be can help conquer dysphoria. This can be done through mobile apps (many of which are free these days) where you can alter hair length, add or remove makeup, change clothes, and more. Sarah J. powerfully says:

              “So, if altering old photographs helps erase dysphoria, then, yes, we should regender them. In the end, regendering photographs is not so much creating a past that never was, it’s about capturing a past that we could not show until now.”

              Digitally altering old photographs can help reclaim a past self which many trans youth weren’t able to express. In doing so, trans youth can work to overcome their dysphoria and encourage authentic self-expression.


                         At the end of the day, the best way to go navigate old photographs is by listening to your child. If they want you to take these photos down (which they likely will), it’s important to respect their wishes. Taking their concerns seriously will help ease their dysphoria and foster a safe home environment where your child can thrive and grow unhindered.






              Irwin Krieger, Counseling Transgender and Non-Binary Youth: The Essential Guide. 2017. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. https://smile.amazon.com/Counseling-Transgender-Non-Binary-Youth-Essential/dp/1785927434.


              Sarah J., from An Injustice! Magazine. 2020. https://aninjusticemag.com/should-we-alter-old-photos-to-erase-dysphoria-55ae799ef0ee.


              Zada Kent, from Medium. 2020. https://medium.com/lgbtqueer-ies/pretransition-pictures-to-display-or-discard-f5059b87b34d.




              Non-Binary Youth

              Non-binary is an umbrella term for an endless range of gender identities which fall outside of the traditional gender binary of man versus woman, or boy versus girl. Non-binary individuals may identify at any point along the gender spectrum, or even outside the spectrum altogether. Non-binary people do not identify as exclusively male or female all the time. Non-binary falls under the transgender umbrella, since non-binary people do not identify with their assigned gender at birth. Many non-binary people consider themselves to be trans, but not all do. Non-binary people are trans if they feel this label suits them. Just like binary trans people, some non-binary people undergo medical transition while others don’t.

              Non-binary shares similarities with gender queer, but they are not synonymous. In Transgender Children and Youth Elijah C. Nealy says that for gender queer people, “their gender identity does not neatly fit into one of the two binary boxes labeled male or female.” This is a trait that non-binary and gender queer people share. However, gender queer came into popular usage at least 10 years before non-binary did, and gender queer is more associated with the counterculture movement seeking to ‘queer’ or deconstruct the gender binary. While many non-binary people may have problems with the gender binary and wish to expand it, the term does not have political or countercultural connotations like gender queer does. Some non-binary people identify as gender queer, while others don’t. Non-binary is not a political term; it simply refers to anybody whose gender identity falls outside of the female-male gender binary.

              Non-binary includes an infinite number of gender identities, so we can’t list them all here. Some examples include agender people, who do not feel they have any gender. Bigender people identify as two genders, either at the same time or moving between them. Check out the TYEF Glossary for more definitions, although this is not an exhaustive list. Some non-binary people just identify as non-binary, and don’t label their gender identity any more specifically than that. It’s important to remember that labels and definitions are always evolving.

              According to Elijah C. Nealy, “given that their identity is neither male nor female, some nonbinary youth use . . . gender-neutral pronouns.” While some non-binary people are okay with the pronouns traditionally associated with their assigned gender at birth, many opt for neutral options like singular they/them/their pronouns. There is also a whole world of neopronouns such as ze/zir/zirs and xe/xym/xyr which many non-binary people feel more comfortable using. Ultimately, pronouns are a personal preference and non-binary youth should use whichever pronouns make them feel the most comfortable and validated in their identities.

              Non-binary youth may face a range of difficulties often not experienced by binary transgender youth. We live in a society that adheres to a false male-female gender binary. Societal biases are present in many aspects of daily life, ranging from public restrooms to doctors’ forms, and more. We need to nurture positive, accepting, and supportive environments in our homes, schools, communities, and society for non-binary youth. Non-binary people belong, and TYEF stands with and supports the non-binary community. Trust the non-binary youth in your lives – they are who they say they are and their identities are valid.

              In the News: 


              The new U.S. law on June 30th 2021 will allow applicants to select “X” for non-binary or unspecified on their passports.



               A new study finds that 1.2 million non-binary people live in the U.S.



              Transgender Children and Youth by Elijah C. Nealy, PhD, MDiv, LCSW. 2017. 

              Nonbinary Wiki. https://nonbinary.wiki/wiki/Nonbinary_Wiki:Dive_in!


              Summer Tips and Tricks for Trans, Non-Binary, and Gender Non-Conforming Youth

              Summer Tips and Tricks for Trans, Non-Binary, and Gender Non-Conforming Youth

              Summer can be difficult for trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming youth. But it doesn’t have to be! Check out these tips from TYEF to help you or your child have a fun, authentic, and memorable summer full of gender euphoria. ?? ??

              Bathroom Access Is Battleground, But Transgender Fight Goes Far Beyond That


              Written by Jennifer Levi, staff attorney at GLAD, friend and advisor to TYEF, originally published in the Boston Globe.

              BATHROOM ACCESS is hardly the fight that transgender advocates would have picked. But when opponents of transgender equality make that the issue (“Texas bill would limit bathroom access,” Daily Briefing, Jan. 6), we can’t shy away.

              Still, let’s not lose sight of the fact that when a student cannot go to the bathroom while in school, they cannot get an education; when someone cannot use a bathroom in an airport, they cannot travel; and when a patient cannot use the bathroom in an emergency room, they cannot get medical care.

              Laws like the one recently proposed in Texas and the one in place in North Carolina, while at a surface level addressing “bathroom access,” go far deeper. They mark transgender people with a stain of exclusion that is not easily undone.

              Access to bathrooms is certainly important for anyone. It is for Gavin Grimm, the Virginia high school student whose case has reached the Supreme Court and will be heard this year. But what is at stake in the case is his right to an education, free of harassment and hostility, on the same basis as his fellow students.

              Let this be unmistakable: The struggle for equality for transgender people is not ultimately about bathrooms. It’s about dignity, equality, and full inclusion in society.


              resilient woman

              The importance of resilience for transgender children and teens cannot be overstated. The transgender experience brings uncharted and unfamiliar waters and often a plethora of tidal waves for many children and youth-- along with some refreshing reprieves and welcome weeks and months of smooth sailing. Clearly, learning coping skills and acquiring a strong belief in oneself and in the power of hope, are essential survival skills. “Resilience is the individual’s ability to withstand and recover from stress and perceived or real obstacles. A resilient person is able to thrive in spite of setbacks and challenges experienced in everyday living (Brill and Kenney, The Transgender Teen, p. 264).” Brill and Kenney contend that the youth or teen’s perceptions of not belonging, as well as their feelings of being a burden to others, frequently predict depression and suicide. However, if youth are able and ready to form a positive gender identity, their resilience to challenging life conditions also increases. Brill and Kenney maintain that three key components that support positive gender identity are (a) family acceptance; (b) social support (schools and friends, community, and professionals); and (c) self-pride.

              Paralleling the resiliency defense for the transgender individual is the defense of mindfulness; that is, the individual’s process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences that are presently occurring, often developed through the practice of meditation and thought-altering training. (Brill, 2016; Cardaciotti, L, Herbert, J.D., Foroma, E.M., Moitra, E., &amp; Farrow, V., (2008). Because of its usefulness in handling emotions, mindfulness is gaining worldwide recognition and implementation. The practice of mindfulness holds the promise of embracing a deeper unity between ourselves and others that simultaneously serves to enhance our lives and theirs (Kabat-Zinn, 2012). Specific strategies in managing emotions and developing mindfulness that are useful to all individuals and, perhaps, specifically the transgender teen, include the following (Brill, 2016; Neff, 2011; Kabbat-Zinn (2012); Kornfield, (2008):

              1. Teach your child or youth the art of managing emotions; demonstrate mindfulness techniques on a daily basis using real life situations to practice and learn. For example, after a family disagreement, analyze the situation and discuss how it might have been handled more calmly with each family member allowed to respectfully voice their feelings and concerns and offer solutions.

              2. In schools, at home, and in groups, practice and teach meditation and yoga techniques. Classroom teachers may wish to allocate a weekly or semi-weekly time slot in which a yoga instructor visits the class and, using music, speech, and instructions, the youth learn meditation and relaxation strategies. Conversely, schools and communities may offer after-school or weekend yoga classes.

              3. Help your child or youth learn about mindfulness; together, take the 25-item online Mindfulness Quiz from Greater Good. Calculate each person’s scores. Discuss where improvement is needed and how to increase your mindfulness and acceptance of your own faults, shortcomings, fears, and areas of regret or sadness as well as develop compassion and understanding for yourself and for all others.

              4. Help your child or teen to choose emotionally stable, supportive friends. Monitor group interactions and, when needed, intervene to remind children to show respect and open-mindedness for all. Enlist children’s and youth’s literature with supportive messages to encourage children and youth to accept others who are different from themselves. The Trans Youth Equality Foundation (TYEF) has compiled an extensive and up-to- date Book Listing for several groups including young children, youth, and teens and adults/providers. (For more information about high quality recommended books for and about transgender individuals, please visit Resources on this website.)

              5. As a family or class, develop expectations for conflict management skills; assign weekly times for sharing, talking, and expressing emotions. Assign tasks, also, to manage the day. Increase listening and sharing time. Set rules for respecting others, using a respectful voice, and not interrupting. Establish natural consequences for not following mindfulness rules; for example, if one child consistently interrupts or talks over other children, that child loses their opportunity to share that day.

              6. Be aware of, and involved in, your child or teen’s daily life, including their activities, friends, books, games, television shows, talents, accomplishments, and challenges. Celebrate accomplishments to encourage continual motivation and growth.

              7. Maintain physical health; ensure sufficient sleep time. For example, some families limit the use of computers and other technological devices for non-school subjects to one hour per day for non-school subjects on week days and two hours per day on weekends. Availability of additional time sans technology will allow for more of the following in the child’s or youth’s life: (a) family and friend interactions and outdoor outings; (b) real-life situations; (c) time to exercise mindfulness; (d) development of talents; (e) sleep and meditation; and (f) physical activity.

              8. Take “sensory walks.” Identify opportunities for experiencing nature each day. Experience all of the senses such as hearing the snow crunch beneath our feet and the woodpecker calls, smelling the pine trees, tasting the healthy snacks from the backpack, seeing the colors of the trees and the sky and observing the cloud formations, and touching the rough bark of the tree trunks and the smooth feel of the grass. Adults report that youth are rejuvenated and more focused on tasks following periods of outdoor play, walking, and exercise.

              9. Try “raisin meditation.” Distribute one raisin to each child or youth in your group. Ask them to chew it slowly and notice the texture and taste of the raisin. Urge students and group members to pay more attention to the food and drinks that they consume in their daily lives and to practice mindful eating; again, the adult plays an important role in modeling healthy and mindful eating.

              10. “Body Scan Meditation:” Help your group members or students to accept and love their own bodies, regardless of their girth or height. Body dysphoria, which is a manifestation of body discomfort, anxiety, or body loathing, is common among transgender children and youth. With transgender individuals, particularly, it is important to stress the power of “yet.” For example, remind them that, although some aspects of their bodies are not yet the way they would like them to be, in time, and through puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy, possibly surgery, and/or selected clothing and hair styling, their appearances and voices can and will change. For individuals who are transgender and gender fluid, help them to recognize aspects about their bodies and themselves that they like, such as kind eyes, graceful hands, beautiful hair, art talent, or great coordination. Remind them, also, that beauty is only skin deep, and that the real person lies within.

              Share this poignant message with your transgender child or friend, “Once upon a time, someone drew a line in the sands of culture and proclaimed with great self- importance, “On this side you are a man; on the other side you are a woman.” It’s time for the winds of change to blow that line away.” Remind them that the winds of change are always blowing and that the cycle of life ensures us that events and circumstances are guaranteed to be different tomorrow and next year from how they appear and effect us today.

              -Kate Bornstein, Gender Outlaw (1994, Routledge)


              Susan Trostle Brand, D.Ed.

              Trans Youth Equality Foundation Board Advisor

              Professor of Education and Social Justice

              University of Rhode Island

              Copyright 2016

              Redefining Holidays for Families with Transgender Children: Six Tips from Parents of Trans Kids

              As parents of transgender children and advocates of equality for all children

              and families, we collaborated to share our experiences and advice at this

              joyful and yet challenging time of the year, especially for transgender

              children and their families.


              Susan Maasch’s Story:

              When my child, Kyle, was six years old, he whispered in my ear that he

              needed surgery. I was shocked. His tone was very serious. He told me he

              was a boy and he needed help. Like most parents, I assumed this was

              probably a phase. But a phase is not ongoing, consistent and persistent. Once

              he uttered these words out loud, Kyle was determined. I finally understood.

              This was ten years ago and there were almost no resources. The pediatrician

              wanted to support us but did not know where to turn. We were left on our



              As a very resourceful person, I found the one or two resources available in

              the country. I decided to found the Trans Youth Equality Foundation so that

              other parents did not have to navigate this journey alone. I have since met

              many parents who wanted to support their kids and others who refused to. I

              have seen tragedy as a result. I refuse to let my child lose hope. Though it

              was very tough to witness my child suffering discrimination at school, at the

              local park, and in our community, we also received much love and support.

              As a young adult, my child has expressed that, without the acceptance he

              had with family, and without medical transition, he would not be alive today.

              We believe him.


              We are fortunate. Holidays for our family have been very happy times. We

              have a very small family and everyone was immediately accepting of our

              child. While widespread acceptance might be the case for you, we know this

              is not the case for many of TYEF families. Using their combined stories,

              gathered over the years, we came up with some hints for making the

              holidays friendly, warm and fun for everyone.


              Susan Brand's Story:

              Twenty-two years ago, I totally missed the signs of my young daughter’s

              true gender identity. She was a girl born into a boy’s body. Jessica’s penis

              was purple, bruised from repeatedly slamming the toilet lid down upon it.

              When I questioned her, she matter-of-factly replied, “I don’t want it.”

              Because I was a single mother, I reasoned that her behavior was simply due

              to the fact that she was going through a brief phase in wanting to act and

              look more like me, including having a female body. Our pediatrician agreed.

              We were right about her desire for female genitalia but dead wrong about

              the brief phase.


              Two years ago, at age 22, Jessica underwent sexual reassignment surgery in

              San Francisco. I’ve never seen her happier nor more herself.  She was a girl

              all along, but couldn’t bring herself to tell me for 16 long years. Now, with

              the exciting and potentially stressful holiday season approaching, we’ll share

              some additional stories and suggestions for your trans child or youth from

              our first-hand, school of hard knocks lessons as Moms of trans kids.


              First: Preparation. If your trans child has come out to you, but not to

              others, it’s best to prepare family and friends in advance of a large holiday

              gathering. Remind them to use the correct pronouns—him/her or he/she or

              gender neutral “they.” If you have a host relative who gathers the family for

              holiday events, ask them for support with the unaccepting relative. Let them

              know you will only attend if you are reassured they will respect your child.

              Ask them to talk to this relative.


              Be prepared for a variety of reactions from friends and relatives. Be patient

              with them. This is new and often unexpected news to them. Sometimes, it

              may take months or even years for friends and relatives to adjust to your

              child’s new identity and to accept your child as they are. For example, Susan

              Brand’s late mother, who later accepted the fact that her grandson was really

              her granddaughter, reacted to our startling news with a stated conviction that

              Jessica required the services of an exorcist! We understood that her

              traditional approach to gender roles and her religious convictions interfered

              with what was, to her, revolutionary. We told other family members and

              friends individually, either by email, phone, or in person, but never “outed”

              Jessica. We only told others with her permission or asked her to tell them,



              Second: Clothing. Allow your trans child or youth to dress as they wish for

              the holiday gatherings. If your trans boy child decides to wear short hair and

              a baseball hat, so be it. If your trans girl child wants to wear a pink dress and

              hair bow, enthusiastically support her. Role modeling your pride in your

              child or youth and their appearance and behaviors will pave the way for

              others to do the same.


              Third: Respect Freedom of Choice. Collaborate on a gift list and shop together

              online or in stores to make the holidays a joyful time of being oneself. Consider

              gender neutral toys like puzzles, stuffed animals, board games, and books. Make a

              day to go shopping and enjoy exploring with your child what they like. If they are

              newly transitioned, they might be exploring their real interests and tastes at

              this time. Get excited about this new journey with them. Be a good listener.

              Ensure that you inform family and friends about gender-appropriate or

              gender-neutral gifts. When purchasing a gift for a gender non-conforming child,

              ask them or their parents what they want.  Check out Amazon Wish List online

              and tell the child to add items they would like. Tell them you will choose

              from the list and surprise them. Be aware that sometimes surprises that

              you choose without your child’s input may backfire.


              When Jessica was two, we attended a preschool Christmas Breakfast,

              culminating with a visit from Santa and gifts for children. While

              little girls opened their voluptuous Barbie dolls, I was smug in the

              knowledge that I’d chosen the perfect gift for Jessica—a bright red fire truck

              with macho little firemen, a three-foot expanding ladder, and a real siren. To

              my confusion, when Jessica tore off the wrapping paper of her boy’s gift, her

              reaction was loud wailing and hiding under the table for 20 minutes. Nothing

              would calm her down. “I wanted a Barbie!” were her only words. She

              sobbed inconsolably during the whole ride home.


              Fourth: Beware of Safety. Be mindful of the physical safety of the toys

              your trans child buys or receives. For her seventh birthday, Jessica’s aunt

              bought her a toy carpentry kit, complete with a miniature sharp-toothed saw.

              Years later, Jessica revealed to me that she tried to saw off her offending

              parts. My walking down the stairs and proximity to her brought a timely halt

              to her near castration. 14 years later, Jessica’s acceptance as the girl she is

              and her sexual reassignment surgery brought her the sought-after release and

              the freedom she craved.


              Fifth: Start New Holiday Traditions. Make sure that holidays feel safe and

              comfortable for your trans child. If things don’t work out well in your

              “coming out” efforts, make sure your trans child knows that, although you are

              frustrated and sad, you are looking forward to creating new holiday

              traditions. Plan together to design these new traditions. Celebrate change,

              love, acceptance and strength. Make it magic, and look forward to the

              new. Remember your chosen family and friends and invite them to join you.


              Sixth: Reach Out. Join trans groups or others who are like-minded in

              holiday celebrations. Look into your local and/or regional LGBT or

              transgender support organizations for holiday gatherings. Building

              community is a great way to show your child that we redefine family by

              looking within our community as well.



              Choose the best plan that will make the holiday fun and comfortable for you

              and your trans child. For us, this gender journey has been challenging, but

              also beautiful. We have learned a lot about differences, respect, love, and

              ally-ship. We have learned about giving back to the community by helping

              other kids and families. We want everyone to know that we are just as in

              love with our children as you are with yours. We are so thankful for everyone

              who has stood with us and continues to support us. At this holiday season,

              we express gratitude to you, our families and friends, and especially to our

              beloved trans children. You are among our lives' richest treasures.


              Susan Maasch / Director

              Trans Youth Equality Foundation



              facebook: trans youth equality foundation


              Susan Trostle Brand, D.Ed. / Professor of Education and Social Justice

              University of Rhode Island

              Consultant and Advocate, Trans Youth Equality Foundation



              Susan Maasch is the founder and Executive Director of the national non-profit Trans

              Youth Equality Foundation. She is a presenter at national conferences for transgender

              rights, an advocate for transgender youth and their families, and the director of the

              popular summer and fall camps for transgender children called TYEF Camp. Susan

              has educated people on transgender youth issues for the past ten years, and this year alone served

              almost 2,000 individuals. Susan is the author of articles and chapters addressing the trans youth

              population, and is also often interviewed by the press about important issues relating to the well

              being of transgender youth. She is also the proud mother of a transgender young man who is

              thriving at college and loves life.



              Susan Trostle Brand, D. Ed.

              Susan Trostle Brand is the proud mother of a 24-year-old trans daughter, Jessica. She is a

              professor of Education and Social Justice at the University of Rhode Island and, along

              with her daughter, Jessica, frequently presents at regional and international conferences

              and universities on transgender issues. Jessica and Susan are featured in an upcoming

              documentary entitled “What I’m Made Of,” scheduled for release in 2017. At URI, Dr.

              Brand teaches Education and Social Justice “Grand Challenge” courses and serves on the

              President’s Diversity Task Force Panel, the President’s Commission on LGBT and the

              LGBT Faculty Fellows Group. Dr. Brand is also the author and co-author of several

              articles, textbook chapters, and books addressing underserved populations and is writing a textbook

              on social justice. Dr. Brand specializes in literature suitable for young trans children

              and youth. She serves as an LGBT advisor for school districts in Rhode Island. 

              In her free time, Dr. Brand spends quality time with her three young daughters and

              three misbehaved cats.



              Choosing a Good Therapist for Your Child or Yourself

              How to find a therapist:


              First, talk with your doctor about your situation, how you feel, your child’s symptoms. He or she will no doubt know therapists who can help with your specific issues. There are other places to start besides your primary care doctor, too. For example, many employee health care plans offer confidential help lines where you can ask questions and find therapists in your network. Another source is the National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline (1-800-950-6264).There are many kinds of professionals who offer many different types of therapy. Their individual approaches are based on their particular training and experience. The main ones include:

              Psychiatrist. A doctor with a medical degree who can prescribe medication. He or she often helps with more severe issues, such as major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

              Psychologist. A professional who has a PhD or a PsyD in clinical psychology. He or she can treat a full range of emotional and psychological issues, such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, but in most states cannot prescribe medication.

              Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). He or she has a master’s degree plus 2,000 hours of supervised psychotherapy experience. This type of mental health professional focuses on the problems of everyday living, like stress and anxiety, relationship conflicts, and mild depression.

              Clinician Nurse Specialist. Like psychiatrists, he or she can prescribe medication. This type of professional works either independently or in collaboration with a supervising physician.

              Licensed Social Worker/Licensed Clinical Social Worker/Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. Similar to a counselor in terms of education and training, a social worker focuses on solving social problems, connecting clients with appropriate resources, and helping with referrals to other professionals, if needed. - Harvard Medical School Newsletter

              TYEF belongs to a gender therapy collaborative and can help locate a trained gender therapist in your area or give you hints how to find one. Some of these questions might help you gain insight about the training or level of interest of a therapist. You might find some more important then others. Ask the therapist, do you have any experience with trans youth? What ages? How many? Do you go to gender conferences? Do you read journals or books about transgender youth?Do you follow WPATH Standards of care? Do you see them as guidelines? Do you object to transition medical care for youth? Do you feel comfortable discussing the gender spectrum?If you are not happy with your choice you can always change. Contact TYEF for support! contact@transyouthequality.org

              We have a famous saying at TYEF! We teach the kids that “reaching out is a sign of strength.” Encourage them to share and keep communication open.



              trans teen
              • Thank them for trusting you and having the courage to tell you.

              • Respect their confidentiality and assure them you will keep it.

              • Provide the teen with support, care and empathy and gently ask who else they have told. It is not your right to tell others. Unless, of course the teen is in danger.

              • Assure them you still care for them. Some teens fear that when they come out, they will be rejected.

              • Learn about organizations, support groups and books that can be helpful to the teen and share this with them. Refer them to www.mb-oca.com

              • Being a good listener shows respect and being heard is part of the healing process.

              • Attend workshops, read journal articles, know local resources and be openminded about learning more. Encourage the teen to build community within the trans youth groups you know of or in LGBT groups regionally.

              Relieving Dysphoria: Trans Boys

              young trans boy

              A trans boy issue: packing. To pack or not to pack. A mother contacted us today to ask for the best resource for buying a packer for her son. Yet, one mad mom contacted us a while ago to ask if we thought it was "reasonable" that she should have to have a "fake penis" in her house! And one mom told their son they would upgrade their packer for christmas, after all, some models can be very expensive..... so there is a gift idea! If you feel you can, you can open this conversation. We find some boys pack and it really helps them, some don't  care to at all. If your son needs to/wants to then read this guide or read it together. Finding ways to relieve dysphoria is crucial. When kids hide they use materials that are not helpful,sometimes unsafe, they get frustrated and have one more thing to hide. We encourage open conversation as hard as it might seem. Packers are now made for very young boys as well. We have also written about safe and comfortable gaffs and taping for girls and can reload that again for our trans daughters! Here is your guide for packers: http://www.ftmguide.org/packing.html

              Coming Out

              trans lgbt flags

              Coming out experiences vary greatly. Some parents will be encouraging from the start. They may have suspected all along that their son or daughter is gay or transgender, and become use to the idea over time. Other parents may be completely shocked. They could react with anger, sadness, fear, or any mix of these emotions. It is completely normal for parents not to be supportive of their child’s transition at first. Many parents go through what is called a “grieving process”; they feel they have lost their son or daughter because their child wants to transition to the other or correct gender. In reality, their child is the same child they have had all along. Some parents take a long time to understand this.

              If your parents are not totally on-board with your transition at first, there are a few things you can do to help them understand. First, ask them to read about transgender youth. Books like “The Transgender Child” by Brill can be extremely helpful for parents who don’t know very much about transgender youth.  You can also refer them to websites and organizations that can provide them with more knowledge as well as support from other parents in the same situation. The Trans Youth Equality Foundation (www.mb-oca.com) and Transitioning Families (www.transitioningfamilies.org) are just a couple of these websites and organizations. Ask your parents to get you or the family a therapist as well, preferably a therapist who specializes in transgender issues and has experience working with transgender youth. Finally, there are many support groups for transgender youth and their parents across the country. ( and at TYEF in Portland Maine,both for youth and their families) If you can find one in your area, encourage your parents to go with you. You would be amazed to see some of the changes that happen in parents when they are able to discuss their concerns and fears with people who are going through the same thing. TYEF can help you find one in your region!

              We want your coming out experience to be as positive as possible. If you feel it is simply not safe to tell your parents perhaps an older sibling, trusted family member, friend or counselor should be present. Always remember that all of us at TYEF are here for you. We will certainly support you through this process. We can discuss this with your parents to help them understand better. Don’tbe shy to call or text us anytime. 207-478-4087 and leave a message with your name and contact. Or email us at contact@transyouthequality.org. It’s always smart to reach out! Take good care of yourself by knowing when to reach out to adults who can support you!

              p.s. If it's holiday time.  When coming out ask your parents if you can talk over the holiday plans. Be honest about your feelings and how deep they are.  Let them know if you feel pressured or down about the anticipation of coming out to your family and friends. Some families will write a letter or private FB message to all people they are sharing the holiday with. For example they can say they are supporting you by using the right pronouns and name and a brief description of what transgender and transition means. They often state that they would like to ask everyone else to please support you in these ways and to be respectful so you can also feel safe and calm and look forward to your holiday. Preparing relatives and asking for respect is better then just appearing as the transitioned you as never before!  lol We welcome hearing about what has worked for you.

              Big hugs to all supportive families!!!!!  written by a TYEF youth intern and the staff!

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