Updated: Jan 20, 2020
So, your kiddo has come out as transgender, gender fluid, gender non-conforming, or some other term you were not expecting. First of all, congratulations! If your child trusted you enough to reveal their real, true, still figuring it all out, and fiercely authentic self, that is a true act of courage (they probably get that from you) and respect! So, congratulations of building the kind of solid relationship that lets your child believe that you will accept and love them exactly as they are! Celebrate their courage and the work you have done so far to build such a strong foundation in your family!
Secondly, great job raising such an honest kid! Your child just made a bold statement on how important they feel honesty is and most importantly, how important it is to be honest with you. Really, really honest. Like, this-may-rock-your-world-but-you-said-we-could-handle-anything-together kindof honest. This world could use more honesty like that.
So, here are a few ways to navigate pronouns in honor of your child and the relationship you have spent their entire life building.
Names and Pronouns
After some of the initial shock and surprise wears off, you are ready to do what parents are built for... sorting out the details. This part can feel a bit like walking through a living room in the dark and finding the floor is covered in legos. So, be patient with yourself and your child.
Get started by asking some questions. What does your child want to be called? What pronouns do they feel most comfortable using? There is no best way to transition or come out publicly. Your child will take the lead on this and things may change along the way. Your job, and it is an important one, is to support them fully and accept them wholeheartedly. You do not have to understand the intricacies of gender or agree with their clothing choices, but you want to nurture that powerful relationship foundation so that they can continue taking risks and trusting that you will have their back. So, ask some questions and listen for the answers.
Ask things like:
What name do you want me to call you?
What pronouns to you want me to call you?
What would it feel like if I called you the wrong name? (This is called being "dead named").
What are 5 helpful things I can do for you during this time?
What are 5 things that would be unhelpful or hurtful that I could do?
What do you think and feel when someone uses the incorrect pronouns?