Woollongong Parents Support Group
Your child is questioning his or her gender. Maybe you're feeling shocked and overwhelmed by the news or fearful for your child's future. Maybe you have no idea on what you're feeling. There must be a thousand different questions running through you're head. The Gender Centre runs in partnership with Woollongong Headspace a monthly parents of transgender youth support group with a trained facilitator, guest speakers and lots of parents who are there to help you, and answer some of these questions Its all free, and you don't need to book just come along. The support group meets on the first Tuesday of each month.The aim of the group is to offer support to parents as they address the issues that arise for them in their roles as family members and care givers.The group accepts all parents whether they are accepting or not of their child's diversity.The only requirement for participants is that they come with open minds to explore and work towards understanding their child.It is hoped that through these support meetings parents will be able to understand their child in a more open and informed way
All PARENTS OF TRANSGENDER AND GENDER QUESTIONING YOUTH are invited to come and be part of these support nights.
First Steps "shared stories from parents and caregivers
It was never on my radar that my daughter could be transgender or that one day when she was in her early twenties my life would be turned completely upside down. I cannot remember clearly how my daughter told me she was a boy, or whether she used the word transgender. The panic and fear that I felt at that moment, thinking there must be something terribly wrong with my child, has wiped some of my memories of that day. But I will never forget the anguish I saw in my child’s face. I knew whatever she was struggling with, was massive.
I didn't know what I should do and I turned to a diagnostic manual for information. At that time it was the DSM IV. I looked up gender and I came away worried that my daughter could be suffering a serious disorder and be mentally ill. I saw a psychologist specialising in gender issues and I told her about my daughter and how she had always behaved and dressed like a girl. But I also told her about the distress my child felt during puberty, her anxiety and discomfort with her female anatomy and of her breast binding. The psychologist said she believed my child could be transgender.
For a long time I fell into a deep abyss. I worried about my child's future, how difficult her life would be and how badly she would be treated. How could I ever keep her safe? What had I done to cause this? How had I not known? I fluctuated between denial, fear, depression and guilt. In those early troubled years it was hard for me to see that I could get to the place I am now, or to see that I would gain so much from the journey. I have a transgender son and I am enormously proud of him. I feel positive about his future and all of his potential. He is interesting, inspiring and courageous and I fully embrace him as my son.
The reason I am sharing my story is because I want you to know that it does get better! You will come to a place of acceptance. You will get used to the new name and pronouns. You will feel proud of your child and positive about the future. You will feel confident that your child will find happiness and love. You will learn that your transgender child is a natural part of human diversity.
Tips for parents
Use your child’s preferred name and pronouns. In the beginning you may find this very difficult but continued resistance could damage your relationship with your child.
Show support and a willingness to understand her or his experience. Whatever your child’s age he or she wants and needs your acceptance.
Connect with a parents’ support group. When you need support or comfort or reassurance about your child’s future, don’t look for that from your child.
Not all transgender people are the same. Not everyone transitions, not everyone takes hormones and not everyone has surgery. Some transgender people pass in their affirmed gender and some do not and some don’t feel they need to try. There is no right or wrong way to be transgender.
What can you do for your child
Reassure your child
Communicate that you love and support your child no matter what. Encourage your child to be the person he or she is.
Help your child connect to age-appropriate trans-positive places and people
If your child is seeking a connection with other transgender or gender diverse people, contact appropriate services for social and support groups.
Adapt to pronoun and name changes
Practise and apologise when you make a mistake. It all gets easier with time and shows respect for your child..
Be an advocate
Be a proud parent. Do not approach your child’s diversity with a sense of shame.
What can you do for yourself
Remember you are not alone.
Allow yourself to feel sad but do not let it overwhelm you so you can’t help your child.
If your feelings are overwhelming you, seek professional help.
Be kind to yourself and recognise that you will make mistakes.
Do not beat yourself up.
You may need to unlearn and unpack a number of preconceived ideas and beliefs – it helps to talk to people.