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How to Raise a Transgender Child

by Melissa King

When your little boy asks to wear dresses and paint his nails, or your daughter insists she's a male, you might think your child's behavior is just a phase. Some kids grow out of this gender nonconformity, but children who are transgendered do not. Transgendered children believe they are the opposite sex, and this feeling only gets stronger with age. According to a 2007 article on the ABC News website, many families reject the feelings of transgendered children, leading to higher rates of drug use, violence, depression and suicide. If you're the parent of a transgendered child, raise her with a spirit of love and acceptance.

Realize that if your child is truly transgendered, you cannot do or say anything to change the way she feels, according to the Gender Spectrum website. Being transgendered is part of who your child is, and it's something you will need to accept.

Understand what a transgendered child is like. Transgendered kids will insist that they are the opposite sex and choose toys, hobbies and clothes that traditionally are associated with that gender.

Visit your child's pediatrician and tell her you think your child is transgendered. The doctor might refer you to a specialist, if she thinks your child is really transgendered. According to a 2007 article on the ABC News website, depending on your child's age and with your approval, her doctor might prescribe hormone blockers. This medication, given when the child reaches puberty, stops hormones that cause gender-specific traits to develop.

Allow your child to participate in the activities she enjoys. For example, if your daughter wants to play football or your son asks for dolls, don't deny your child what she wants, suggests psychotherapist Jean Malpas in a 2012 article on The Atlantic website. Refrain from saying something along the lines of, "Only boys do that" or "Girls don't play with those kinds of toys."

Discuss your child's gender nonconformity with your family because her behavior might be difficult for relatives to understand.

Talk to your child's teacher and let her know your child is transgendered. You might also want to alert your child's day care provider or other caretaker, if applicable.

Talk to your child regularly about school, friends and life in general. Ask your child whether anyone ever bullies or makes fun of her because of the way she dresses or the toys she plays with. Transgendered children often seem "strange" to other kids, so they might make fun of them, according to the Frequently Asked Questions section of Gender Spectrum. If she is being bullied, assure your child that she doesn't deserve it, then work on a way to stop the bullying.

Join a support group for parents of transgendered children (see Resources). A support group connects you with other parents and their children who are going through the same struggles as you. The group can help you cope with your child's gender nonconformity and allow your child to make new friends, according to Malpas in TheAtlantic.com article.

Tip

  • Some children who are gender nonconforming might later decide they want to return to their original sex. This usually happens around 9 or 10 years of age, according to Gender Spectrum.

About the Author

Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images