Part of growing up is figuring out who we are and what our place is in the world. For children,
and even adults, this can be a struggle. Our sense of self is based upon values, beliefs, interests, relationships, sexual orientation, and of course, our gender identity. For parents, if this gender identity exists outside of cisnormativity (the assumption that all folks’ sense of identity and gender aligns with their birth sex) it can lead to a host of emotions.
Parents may experience:
* Confusion,
* Hurt,
* Disbelief,
* Sadness,
* Anger,
* Grief,
* Shame,
* Relief,
* Happiness,
* Concern.
Many of these feelings stem from a concern about how their child will navigate the world and
in turn how the world will respond to them.
Whilst these feelings are all normal and valid, it is important to manage those feelings once
your child has identified their gender to you. Connecting with a therapist to help you work
through these feelings will allow you to better support your child.
When it comes to supporting your child’s gender identity, there are three key things you can do.

1. Validate and be Supportive – If your child comes out to you as transgender or gender
non-conforming, provide a safe space to listen and practice understanding. Learn from
you child what that means to them. It is important to provide a clear message of
support to your child that you are there for them and love them for who they are. Being
supportive and validating includes using your child’s preferred name (this may be
difficult if it is different than the name you have given them) and their preferred
pronouns. It also includes creating safe and inclusive environments for your child in the
home, with others, and in the community to the best of your ability. Finally, it is
recognizing that your child is the expert in their identity, including their gender.
Reducing their experience to “just a phase” will make your child feel rejected and

2. Educate yourself
– Cisnormativity, transgender, gender non-conforming, gender
variant… what do they mean? Educate yourself on the terminology and the experience
of gender variant and gender non-conforming individuals. There are a lot of great
organizations doing this work in the community and across the country which are
referenced below. Ok2bme has a great resource outlining the definitions (see link at end
of report). Research LGBTQ+ organizations. Join a parent support group or reach out to
other families who have a child that may be gender non-conforming or gender variant.
Finally, remember your child is the expert of their experience and is a wealth of
knowledge as well.

3. Advocate for your child –
Advocacy can take many forms. It may be ensuring your child’s
school is a safe environment where their gender identity is taking into consideration (i.e.
there are non-gendered bathrooms). It may be encouraging other family members to
use your child’s preferred pronouns and name. Talk to your child about what they feel
they may need your support with.

For additional LGBTQ+ information and support, please see the following organizations: The
Bridge Brant, Ok2BeMe, PFLAG, or LGBT Family Coalition to name a few.
If you find you or your child struggling, please reach out to us for counselling.

Written by Registered Social Worker, Brianna Kerr.
The information contained in this report is for the sole purpose of being informative and is not
to be considered complete, and does not cover all issues related to mental health and gender
identity. Moreover, this information should not replace consultation with your doctor or other
qualified mental health providers and/or specialists. If you believe you or another individual is
suffering a mental health crisis or other medical emergency, contact your doctor immediately,
seek medical attention immediately in an emergency room or call 911.

The Bridge Brant
(Can be found on Facebook)
LGBT Family Coalition