The LGBT Health & Development Program

Resources for parents of gender variant children

Posted on September 9th, 2010 by Dr. Mustanski in Families Blog. 1 Comment

Recently a parent contacted us with some questions about her son who is very interested in wearing woman’s clothing and makeup and playing with toys that are traditionally though of for girls (e.g. dollhouses).  Some of our colleagues, who are leading experts in this area, offered these suggestions of resources for parents with gender variant children.

This brochure is made by the Gender and Sexuality Advocacy and Education Program at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC. Their website also includes other resources for kids and parents, including a listserv for parents and a summer camp for kids. The brochure has why gender variance occurs, what can be expect in the future, how to support your child and yourself, as well as other useful resources.

Here’s an excerpt about the question, why does it occur?

“Although science has yet to pinpoint the causes,we know that gender-variant traits are not typically caused by parenting style or by childhood events, such as divorce, sexual abuse, or other traumatic experiences. Children do not choose to have gender- variant interests anymore than other children choose gender typical interests. Both types of interests represent what comes naturally to each child.Gender variance is not caused by an emotional disorder. However, because of societal prejudice, children with gender- variant traits may experience ongoing rejection, criticism and bullying causing adjustment difficulties.”

Also suggested was this book by Stephanie Brill. This comprehensive first of its kind guidebook explores the unique challenges that thousands of families face every day raising their children in every city and state. Through extensive research and interviews, as well as years of experience working in the field, the authors cover gender variance from birth through college. What do you do when your toddler daughter’s first sentence is that she’s a boy? What will happen when your preschool son insists on wearing a dress to school? Is this ever just a phase? How can you explain this to your neighbors and family? How can parents advocate for their children in elementary schools? What are the current laws on the rights of transgender children? What do doctors specializing in gender variant children recommend? What do the therapists say? What advice do other families who have trans kids have? What about hormone blockers and surgery? What issues should your college-bound trans child be thinking about when selecting a school? How can I best raise my gender variant or transgender child with love and compassion, even when I barely understand the issues ahead of us? And what is gender, anyway? These questions and more are answered in this book offering a deeper understanding of gender variant and transgender children and teens.

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