Fortunately we have outgrown many of the incorrect notions around gender, but some still persist. MANY people will say that they knew they were different from very young ages, but they didn’t understand it, didn’t have the vocabulary to describe it, etc. What people don’t understand is that our sexuality and gender identity are innate. We can’t ignore it and we can’t change it. This is why conversion therapy doesn’t work. You can’t change something that is a fundamental part of our being.
I’ll suggest a few things…
- The first is search around for support groups for parents of trans kids. That can be a good source of information and to learn how other parents are dealing with the situation.
- Definitely agree with finding a therapist experienced in gender issues. This is important because not every therapist has this understanding or interest. The Psychology Today magazine maintains a searchable database of therapists from all over the world. Each submits a brief write-up as to the types of patients they work with.
- Look for LGBT centers in your area. They can be a wealth of information and may help you connect with transgender resources that can be helpful.
- There is a very well written and researched book: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Trans (but were afraid to ask) by Brynn Tannehill. LOTS of information about being trans, medical health, mental health, religion, politics, social aspects, etc. The religion and political parts are written from a US perspective, but I suspect the thought processes may be similar in the UK.
One thing that is helpful, I think, is that your child trusted you enough to reveal some very deep-seated feelings. Many young people feel that they cannot do that without serious repercussions. To me, that indicates the level of respect and understanding that you are not going to create an upheaval. That sounds like a great starting point!
One final thing that I believe is significant: Allow your child to tell their story. After all, it is the child’s story and not the parents. Everyone should have the privilege of telling their own story in their own way…