Psychological assistance to parents of transgender and gender nonconformal adolescents. Part 1.
Below are material for audiences 18
the Last few years in my practice of family counseling and psychological professional community increasingly heard, researched and discussed issues of gender identity and sexuality, cross-gender behavior and gender stereotypes in society.
Many parents submit requests to help their children into adolescence to resolve the difficulties associated with the search and realization of his gender identity, or experience a mismatch of their gender biological sex assigned at birth and/ or feeling a significant discrepancy between their gender and those gender roles and stereotypes dictated by society.
in addition, psychologists want to better understand such important topics as the formation of gender identity and sexuality development in children, youth and adult periods to more effectively help clients without using, even unconscious, discriminatory or patology approach. So I wanted to write a series of articles, which later will be combined in a small practical guide for parents and professionals encountered in everyday or professional life with a transgender or gender nonconformal people.
Probably there is not one parent who would not be discouraged, frightened or surprised by the unexpected recognition of his child:"Mom, you know, when I grow up, I want to have a sex change. Know who is transgender? Call me now Yura and masculine". Describes coming out of your child one of the mothers, by adding the following:
"Now she asks to and the surrounding was called the Jura and the masculine. If someone addressed her as the girl followed the breakdowns and tantrums. She was ashamed of his body and chose the men's baggy clothing. She is beginning to manifest gender dysphoria - a condition when a person cannot accept their gender status men or women. It did not take yourself, you didn't. Appeared suicidal thoughts."
In an interview with the Russian online edition father, the now adult son is transgender, shares her story of their relationship in the past:
"for the First time he spoke to us, his parents, his gender identity when he was 14 years old. Since then it has been 12 years. Now my wife is almost completely unable to accept the fact that our child — the so-called FtM (from the English. female-to-male - "women-in-man"). But this, of course, occurred not at once, despite the fact that our family is very open and trusting relationship. Now the child is 26 years old, he adult and responsible person.
Remember from an early age he was fond of role-playing games. Interests revolved around the universe of Tolkien: "the Lord of the rings", "the Silmarillion". A favorite character was Aragorn. My wife has always taken an active part in his life. And when the baby was first shared with us the inner feeling of gender, we first decided that it was again some kind of game.
First, we tried to distance themselves from any serious conversation on this topic. But you have to give credit to the kid, he stayed with us for a great job. Every time he started a regular dialogue carefully. He said: "I occasionally feel like I live in two different images. But in reality it is not always easy".
it seemed impossible to criticize or condemn him. Another thing - it was hard to understand that this is not just a whim. All this time the child very delicately explained, without entering at the same time in confrontation and arranging scandals. Thanks to this the last five years, we perceive the situation as a normal part of my life."
How to respond to parents and close people to the child that he or she is feeling discomfort in your biological field, or the mismatch of their internal gender identity that is attributed to him or her around?
of Course, such an event never to be ready, because this is akin to the Big Bang and the birth of a new universe. Even noticing something unusual in the behavior of their child, every parent unconsciously seeking to protect themselves from meetings with traumatic experiences and long delays conversation with a teenager. However, when coming out took place and boy you opened, you need to react and participate in the future of your child's life.
first of all, you will need skills of empathy, as corny as it may sound. The ability to empathize and actively listen. Try carefully and slowly to listen to a teenager, and even better repeatedly labeling as required his or her feelings and experiences voiced in the story, responding to them is a sincere concern and empathy for the response.
In the first place, the teenager is now a very important emotional support. Most likely, he or she is also thrilled/ excited and scared/ frightened by the realization that with him or her, recognition in front of their friends. Your son or daughter may worry that you his or her do not understand, will reject and will judge. They are afraid to be alone, without your support with very deep feelings and problems.
it is Likely that the teenager long pondered and planned his coming out in front of you. It was given to him is not easy. But if he or she is willing to discuss such intimate and intricate issues like gender identity and sexuality, so your teen trusts you and you are very close and important to him or her. Try to save and not to destroy this trust in your relationship.
Call the key moments of dialogue with a teenager during or after committing a fireplace-out:
* listen carefully to the teenager, trying not to interrupt, perhaps it will have to do more than once in the process of solving his or her difficulties with gender expression;
* give him or her the opportunity to quietly speak to the host and secure environment;
* help your teenager to Express their feelings and thoughts, not trying to expose their evaluative judgments, ridicule or to criticize;
* be patient - do not rush a teenager with a story for yourself and try not to run away in alarm too far, trying as quickly as possible to begin the solution of urgent problems, often because the teenager have enough time to speak to their families and to understand their feelings, thoughts and actions, priorities;
* breathe deeply and take the most comfortable position during difficult conversations with your child - this will help you to feel and bodily support to gradually cope with their own strong feelings in the dialogue process;
* try to emotionally support your child.
* show empathy, sympathy and compassion for his difficulties, even if you are not yet understand them very well from a rational point of view;
* try to put yourself in your child to better understand his emotional state, but do not turn immediately, in the same frightened, or angry "teenager";
* be respectful and careful when he or she invite you to get in touch with their inner world and share their problems;
* reflective ourselves to later take care of yourself understand their feelings;
* do not try to overly control the life of a child, wanting to protect him from mistakes or potential problems.
* try to clarify what are now the most urgent needs of the child and to negotiate about what the appropriate way they can be satisfied;
* if the child is prepared for the fireplace out before to tell you all about and offers to read some articles or listen to video lectures about transgender people, not to alienate him and refer to these materials; it will be a good bridge to further discuss concerns you or your teen problems and issues;
* do not hesitate to ask your child about the fact that you still do not understand if it is sufficiently tuckered out and ready for further dialogue.
So what is it that ultimately can help to establish mutual understanding between roditelei and transgender or gender nonconformal teenagers, when their relationship is a crisis? I think these are the basic principles that are important for the development of closeness and trust in all human relationships: unconditional love, hope to be recognized and accepted for what I am, emotional support and care, sincerity, respect for the personality of the other person, accepting his differences from myself or my ideas about him and expectations, the ability to be imperfect people (parents and children) and the ability to forgive. Crisis often means growth and in spite of his tenderness for the whole family is able to take your relationship to a completely qualitatively different new level, deeper and more open.
to be Continued...
the author of the illustrations SOYA
the Author notes Daria Shutova - family and child psychologist, certified Gestalt therapist, supervisor.