For Parents and Allies —
Parents, part of your child’s transition will be you learning to use the appropriate pronouns, regardless of how you feel about them or how you view your child’s gender.
A few things to remember:
Mistakes do happen; it’s how you deal with them that matters. Apologize & correct yourself. My parents made mistakes and I reminded myself that this was their transition, too.
Habit and history are not excuses. Habit and history can most certainly explain difficulty & reflex, but as time progresses, tolerance for mistakes decreases – and rightly so.
This might be hard. Just because a task is hard does not mean you shouldn’t do it. You can and should do hard things. Especially in protecting your child.
Remember that while your child’s transition can be difficult for you to experience, you cannot blame your child for this difficulty or use them to support you through it. Your child is not your support through their transition; you are your child’s support. Your child is NOT the person with which to process your difficult feelings. Your struggle is your responsibility. Your child is reaching out to you for support and this is the moment you can either seize or you can fail. (Failure can often increase the risk for suicidal behavior. For more about this, visit this page.)
Some tips & tricks:
Practice. Write about the five most memorable experiences with your kid with the correct and current pronoun. Every time you misgender your kid, gender them correctly three times in three d ifferent ways. (e.g. “He is going to the store to get his groceries because they are necessary to him.)
Correct yourself in your head, aloud, always. Even if your child is not around.
Do some soul searching on your own gender. Seeing your child correctly might require the release or deconstruction of societal constraints boxes or expectations of man or womanhood.
It might also be useful to investigate why it’s hard.
- You might be embarrassed. If this is the case, read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and start to build some shame resilience.
- You might think by refusing to use the right pronouns you can stop your child from being trans. Take a look at this page and video for how rejecting your child’s trans identity can be very harmful to them.
- You might see your child only as who you want them to be instead of who they actually are. This is where some of that soul-searching might come in handy! It might also be good to talk through your feelings about who you want your kid to be or who you thought they would be with a trustworthy friend, a therapist, or even your own parent. You might visit a PFLAG meeting and talk to other parents of trans kids.
For Trans & GNC Kids —
How I explain misgendering: When [you] call me the pronouns & name I no longer identify with, it says: You don’t exist. It says: I don’t see you and I value my view of you more than I value your comfort and safety. Misgendering me hurts my feelings a great deal. I know I might look a different way now than I did but I am still me. And I have always been me. And [you] using the name and pronouns that I use now – always, even with old pictures – is a way to validate that. To validate me. To say you see me.
If they still misgender you, you must begin to validate yourself, anyway. Remind yourself that their choice to invalidate you does not mean that your identity is actually invalid. It means something about their character; not yours. You are no less of a man, woman, or person. You are still you. Do not let yourself invalidate yourself because they invalidate you. Choose this moment to remind yourself you are still valid. And that you absolutely belong here.