“Recently we were asked ‘how do you deal with a child having a gender identity issue?’ This is an important question. In fact, it can be a life or death question. A child with gender identity issues is more likely to be bullied, more likely to be abused, and more likely to self-harm. Family rejection of a child with gender identity can lead to risky behaviors, trigger depression and other mental health problems, and an elevated risk of suicide. How parents answer this question for themselves can be the difference in their child’s life expectancy.
Our approach is to be affirming and accepting whatever happens, however they identify. Whatever they’re feeling. No holds barred. Full acceptance. It may be lasting, it may be a time of exploration of what gender means for them, it may be curiosity but no matter what we will trust their experience and support them where they are in any given moment with love and acceptance. They are their own people and we will not tell them what that must be.
So far, we’ve had two children go through some form of gender identity struggle. Both have settled at this time on their assigned gender at birth but for both, there was a time when that wasn’t what they felt was true for them. We affirmed their journey and respected their process and continue to do so.
For any individual struggling with their identity, therapy is a good idea to help with the process. Look for someone who specializes in gender issues and is affirming, a gender therapist. It is important for the wellbeing of your child that the point of this therapy not be about making them believe and conform to their assigned gender but rather to help support them in figuring out and understanding themselves with no pressure to be anything but themselves.
As much as possible, we will not knowingly be the source of our children’s pain and suffering (true pain and suffering not the discomfort that can come with healthy boundaries and limits that are tested and not liked). We cannot spare them all pain and suffering, but we don’t have to needlessly cause it. So, we choose to affirm a child struggling with gender identity, support them, love them, and actively demonstrate that by listening and advocating for them.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jessica and Jeremy Martin-Weber of We’re All Human Here. Follow their journey on Instagram. The article originally appeared here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.
Read more stories from Jessica and Jeremy here:
‘She came to us asking why she felt so much anger. Jeremy gave her a hammer. The slightest thing sets her off, boiling just under the surface.’: Daughter ‘relieved to know she wasn’t alone’ after parents help her to ‘release anger safely’
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