More and more children of all ages are coming out as non-binary or transgender. Depending on their age, some children have put a lot of thought into figuring out their gender while others simply know. People may come out as trans, gender fluid, gender variant, queer, or just announce that they are actually not a girl, but a boy. Or that they are both, or neither. It seems as though every year there is new terminology to learn, which simply means people are learning more and more about themselves and how to describe themselves!
We all have a gender. When parents ask how their child really knows that they are gender variant, I like to ask the parent how they knew their gender? When did they figure it out? The response I typically receive is that they always just knew and that they never really put much thought into it. Well, some children are the same way. They just know! For these families, it may not be the child who could use some therapy, but the parents. Parents may benefit from a few sessions in order to ask questions and get support as they start their own transition process of learning more about loving and supporting a transgender child.
For other children, the answer is not so simple, and they truly could benefit from having a knowledgeable, trusted, and accepting adult with whom to process. If a child is appearing more depressed or anxious, is struggling with school, is withdrawing from friends and family, or reports any bullying, therapy is indicated. While a parent may pursue therapy for any child in those circumstances, it is especially important for transgender adolescents, as they are at a significant increased risk for suicide than other adolescents. Transgender children and teenagers may have questions they would prefer to not discuss with a parent. Or they may need some help developing a vocabulary in order to more accurately describe how they are feeling and who they truly are. Regardless, it is always better to offer support to a child, so even if you are not positive your child needs therapy, it never hurts to reach out and learn more.