How to explain a trans child's pronouns to other family members, according to a psychologist

·3 min read
Father and child holding hands
Father and child holding handsYagi Studio/Getty Images
  • Family support is one of the most important factors for the long-term health of trans children.

  • A child psychologist told Insider parents should take their child's lead on coming out to others.

  • Provide the people in your child's life with resources and explain why respect is crucial.

Experts say that one of the most important factors for a trans child to thrive is a safe family environment.

It's also important for a child's broader community, like their extended family, to support them, Dr. Samantha Busa, clinical director of Gender and Sexuality Service and psychologist in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health told Insider.

"I stress to parents when they're being supportive, they're doing an amazing job of providing a protective factor for their child," Busa told Insider.

Busa said parents should make a game plan with their child before telling other family members about their child's pronouns and gender. Once you and your child agree on a plan, talk to your family members about the importance of respecting their pronouns and provide them with plenty of resources.

Ask your child if they want to come out to extended family

The first step to tell extended family about your child's gender is to ask your child what they're comfortable with. If your child wants to share their pronouns or use a new name, it's important to let them take the lead on what you disclose to others.

"I think the important piece that surrounds any of this disclosure is making sure the child is in agreement with that plan," Busa said. "We never want parents to be outing their child without their consent."

Make sure you ask what they would like to be called and how they would like to be referred to by family members. Some kids may go by singular sets of pronouns like he/him, she/her, or they/them, while others may go by rolling pronouns, meaning pronouns that alternate like he/they or they/she.

Provide your family members with resources on what being trans means

If your child is comfortable with you disclosing their gender, you should then provide family members with resources on what being trans means.

According to Pew Research, only about 40% of adults in the US personally know someone who is trans, so their could be gaps in their understanding.

"Some of these people may have never knowingly met a trans person," Busa said.

Busa recommends filling in those gaps with resources. The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ+ suicide prevention non-profit, recommends its guide to coming out and "Guide to being an Ally to Transgender and Nonbinary Youth."

Supporting trans children in their gender identity can save their life

Even if your family members don't fully understand transness after the first conversation, make sure they understand what's at stake if they don't make an effort to respect your child's identity.

According to Busa, trans children who don't have familial support are more likely to have anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts throughout their life.

"The data suggests that for children who are transgender and are supported in their gender identity, who have immediate family support, these are kids who do not have differences in mental health when they're compared to cisgender youth," Busa told Insider.

Read the original article on Insider