If you are transgender and are considering what living authentically means for you the first thing to do is to seek out more information and look for appropriate support.
As a specialist in gender-identity counseling, I have done additional training in transgender and gender and sexuality diversity issues and have been an advocate within the community for over a decade. I have worked closely with medical professionals, advocacy organizations, psychiatrists, schools, and organization such as Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital Gender Program.
Living in your true gender will take courage and a fair degree of experimentation – finding a congruent look, exploring ways to present your body that will be more easily read as relating to your true gender and exploring exactly what you want to communicate in terms of gender identity takes time and patience.
Many people successfully live in a gender other than ascribed at birth – some of whom have had surgical and hormonal intervention, some of whom who have only had partial surgery or hormonal intervention, and some who live successfully in their true gender without any medical intervention at all. The important thing is that you take time to work out what suits you best; and that is where a skilled and experienced therapist can help.
Transgender Visibility: A Guide to Being You
TS Road Map: Self-Acceptance Lakeview Center Services for Chicago Transgender Clients
Guidelines for the Primary and Gender-Affirming Care of Transgender and Gender Nonbinary People
"Should I come out to my parents?"
As a therapist I get asked this question often. According to Families Adjust to a Gay or Lesbian Child (www.comingoutcominghome.com), kids came out to their parents, on average at age 17, with some coming out as young as 14. Research findings suggest that for openly gay kids, having a good relationship with parents is good for their mental health and self-esteem, and may inoculate them from suicidal feelings, substance abuse, and risky sex. For youth coming out to their parents (who were not rejecting) gave them a sense of relief and helped solidify their identities as a gay men and lesbian women—and some parents found that a son or daughter's coming out actually made their families closer and stronger than ever before. However, despite all of these benefits, sometimes it might not be a good idea for gay or lesbian (or bisexual, or transgender people) to come out to their parents. Of course, this hesitation is around safety. Please continue reading the following article for more information regarding the "coming out process" and things to consider if your gut is telling you it may not be safe. Remember, it may be beneficial to talk it over with someone you trust to gain objectivity before making a decision. You're well-being is most important. Also consider you are not living a lie if you have not told them or others your orientation or gender identification- allowing your authentic self to emerge over time is natural and there are no right or wrong moves. :) You got this! Stop. Breathe. Read on.
Be authentically you...
( A Reading for Teens)
So… you’ve told your parents you’re transgender and they just don’t get it. Don’t give up! You have been thinking about this for a long time while they may be completely clueless. The signs that are so clear to you may be invisible to them. They’ve been happy to think of you as different, unique, your own person, maybe even gay or lesbian, but not transgender. They may not even know anything about the subject, and there’s a lot for them to learn. It’s frustrating to have to get their permission to do something about it when you know so much more about it than they do.
Why are your parents so slow on the uptake? Parents usually are a little slow about these things. It’s in their nature to be careful and worried about things like whether kids will hassle you at school, how grandma will react, and how you could possibly be so sure of something this complicated at your age. They’ll tell you that when they were your age they had all kinds of ideas that changed when they became adults. I bet you’re tired of hearing all of this and just want to move on!
I am a gender identity therapist who has worked with many teens like you, and their parents.
Here’s my advice for you:
Take Your Time. Learn About Yourself.
It’s important to be certain about your gender identity before you take any medical steps to transition. So keep thinking about it and reading about it. Think about different types of transgender identities, including non-binary identities such as genderfluid and genderqueer. Try out different clothes, hair styles, makeup, jewelry and behaviors that may express how you feel inside about your gender. Notice how you feel when you act and appear more masculine or feminine. Notice how others respond. Pay attention to what you like and don’t like about your body, and the changes that come with puberty. How do you feel when you look at yourself in a mirror? Be Safe. Get Support.
Most teens learn about transgender identities by visiting websites and blogs and watching videos of other people talking about their transition. Keep in mind that you are a unique individual. Other people’s experiences and feelings may or may not apply to you. Don’t give out any personal identifying information to people you meet online (name, address, school.) Click here for tips on internet safety.
If you think it’s not safe to tell your parents because they might hit you, harass you, kick you out or harm you in some other way, then you need to find a safe and supportive adult you can talk to. This could be a family member you trust, a school counselor, a teacher, doctor or clergy. Or you can contact the Trevor Project hotline: 1-888-4-U-TREVOR or visit www.thetrevorproject.org. If there is a GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) at your school, talk to the adviser. If not talk to a counselor at school. Ask them if there are any groups in your area for transgender teens. If not, you can talk to other LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) teens on Trevor Space:: www.trevorspace.org. It’s good to talk to a few friends about your feelings if you have not already done so. Think about who you can trust to be open-minded and respectful. Friends who are open-minded about gays and lesbians are likely to be the most open-minded about your transgender feelings. (Same with adults.)
Be Patient With Your Parents. Work With Them.
If you’re reading this, then you have probably said something to at least one parent about your gender identity. But it’s not going to be enough to just announce that you’re transgender and expect your parents to understand. Here are some things they need to know about you: When did you first begin to question your gender identity?
Do you feel sure now, or are you still questioning?
How did you fit in with girls and boys when you were younger?
How do you feel about the male or female aspects of your body?
How do you feel about the changes to your body that come with puberty?
How do you feel when people view you as female or male?
Who have you talked to about this so far and how have they responded?
Would you like to share this information with other family members?
Do you want to let people know at school? In your neighborhood?
Do your best to understand your parents’ responses, even if you don’t like how they are responding. Here are some of the most common fears and concerns that even the most supportive parents have: Fear that you will be harassed or physically harmed
Fear that you will make changes now that you will regret when you are older
Concern that you are too young to be sure about something this serious
Concern that some event, problem or person has caused you to believe you are transgender but you really are not
Belief that there is no need to transition because anyone can do whatever they want in life, regardless of gender
Feeling that it is shameful to be transgender or to have a transgender child.
Worry about what others will think of you and them
Sadness that they are losing their boy or girl
Let your parents know that a social transition (telling everyone your gender and asking them to use a new name and correct pronouns) is an important step to help you find out more about yourself, to try out the gender identity that you think is right for you. A social transition is fully reversible. Hormones and surgery are not. Encourage your parents to read about transgender teens, contact other parents through listservs, attend LGBT youth conferences with you and join any available support groups in your area. Resources for your parents are available at my website: www.helpingyourtransgenderteen.com.
Novels about transgender teens:
A Boy Like Me, by Jennie Woods
Being Emily, by Rachel Gold
George, by Alex Gino
I am J, by Cris Beam
If I Was Your Girl, Meredith Russo
Luna, by Julie Ann Peters
Parrotfish, by Ellen Wittlinger
Teen memoirs: Being Jazz, by Jazz Jennings
Rethinking Normal, by Katie Rain Hill
Some Assembly Required, by Arin Andrews
The Trans Teens Online Talk Group is a live, moderated group chat for trans youth ages 12 thru 19, operating each Wednesday from 4-6 pm, pacific time. This program is designed to be a safe place that allows trans youth to talk freely about concerns and issues, with others their own age, providing support for one another, and helping each other know they are not alone.
If you are feeling depressed, can’t cope, or feel like hurting yourself or killing yourself, get help! You can ask for counseling without letting anyone know it’s about gender if that’s the easiest way to get started. Just tell your parents or a school counselor that you are feeling down and need to talk to someone about it. If you feel like hurting yourself or killing yourself, let a responsible adult know right away! It’s not something to keep to yourself or just talk to your friends about. Get help right away if you are cutting yourself or hurting yourself. You don’t have to see a gender identity specialist to get started. Any therapist who is open-minded about LGBT issues can help you. If you don’t know how to arrange this, or if you’re feeling suicidal, call the Trevor Project hotline at 1-888-4-U-TREVOR or visit www.thetrevorproject.org.
What is gender dysphoria? Gender dysphoria is a medical term used by psychiatrists to diagnose patients who have severe and persistent distress about being the wrong gender and who express a strong desire to live as the other gender. It replaces old terms like transsexualism and gender identity disorder and refers to the chronic sense of unhappiness that arises when the inner experience of gender is other than that ascribed at birth (“you're a boy/you're a girl”).
Whilst gender dysphoria is the official medical vocabulary, many individuals feel more comfortable using the term transgender instead.
Click on the boxes below for more information and links to resources:
What are your rights?
Parents & Families
See link below for comprehensive collection of research, resources, and stories to help any parent, family member, or guardian learn more about gender diversity.
* Research Related to Parenting and Family
* General Parenting Resources
* Raising Kids Outside the Gender Binary
* Sharing the Experience of Raising Gender-Expansive or Transgender children
*Privacy & Safety
*Camps, Sports Leagues & Other Activities
The 21 Best Transgender and Gender Non-conforming Books for Kids.
Gender book for teens.
Gender Born Gender Made
Dr. Ehrensaft has written a seminal and informative book that fills what has been a gaping abyss in the literature for parents rearing gender non-conforming children.
A real-life look at a parent's journey parenting a transgender teen. Video link
What are blockers?
Read up on what they do. Click here.
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital Gender Program
Gender development services provides advocacy, training, mental health, and medical care aimed at supporting the physical, mental and social health of patients and their families as youth progress through gender identity development.
Howard Brown Health is committed to improving the health of trans and gender non-conforming communities. We offer programs that address the unique barriers faced by trans and gender non-conforming clients as well as medical, behavioral health, and case management staff who are sensitive to your needs.
A specialty booklet written specifically for people on the FTM spectrum and MTF spectrum considering hormone therapy.
Compiled by the HRC, this site contains a collection of insurance carriers that have available plans without blanket exclusions for transgender-related healthcare. It provides a list of direct links to the carriers’ websites where major guidelines for transgender-related treatments are openly available. It specifically covers providers for whom SRS and/or GRS are covered. Here.
TSSurgeryGuide.com This site was created to become a collective of information on surgeons that serve the transgender community. Our mission is to provide transsexual and transgender individuals with the ability to select the right surgeon for them. Information on this site does not constitute medical advice, or specifically recommend any surgeon over another. It is a constant work in progress, so if you have any reviews, sex reassignment surgeons to add, or information to share please post or email them to email@example.com.
Dr. Sherman Leis discusses what his patients can expect when they are considering having Genital Reassignment Surgery (GRS) at the Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery. Click here,
Compiled by Chicago’s Center on Halsted, this comprehensive PDF includes the answers to questions such as: