If you are a parent, caregiver, teacher, or friend of a teen who questions their identity, sexual preference, or gender, it might be hard for you. Most people want others to follow along with everyone else. Being different can mean problems, and you likely want the best for your teen. You might fear that your teen might experience bullying, being marginalized, or made fun of. You might even fear your own reactions to your teen’s experience. This article will discuss how you can support your LGBT teen as well as yourself when your adolescent struggles with gender-related issues.
The following is a list of steps to take to find support for your teen as well as yourself:
It’s important to get a basic understanding of what gender, sex, and transgender mean. It might also help to learn what LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) stands for. Also, you may want to learn the following:
Sex is the biological expression of either male or female that an individual is born with. The specific physical attributes at birth such as internal and external anatomy, chromosomes, and levels of particular hormones indicate whether that individual is male or female.
Gender, on the other hand, is socially constructed. Each gender is usually associated with specific roles, behavior, activities, and mannerisms that society tends to assign either men or women.
Sexual orientation is the chosen emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction to men, women, or both.
Transgender is a descriptive term for individuals whose gender identity or whose expression of gender does not agree with their biological attributes – the sex they were born with.
Get Family Support
Participate in family therapy to work through family concerns and strengthen relationships. All members of the family can participate in therapy, not just you and your adolescent. You might also plan to join an LGBT teen support group. There are support groups for parents of transgender teens as well as support groups for your teen to participate in. You can further support your teen by working with your teen’s school to develop a suicide prevention plan. LGBT teens are more at risk to suicide because of the ways they are often marginalized. Keep in mind that gay teens who are accepted and loved by their parents are less at risk for suicide than parents who reject their teens for being gay or transgender. Lastly, you might seek for resources and support on the Internet for global and/or national groups that you and your teen can participate in.
Be a Part of the Community
If you live in a larger city, you will likely hear about an LGBT annual parade. You and your family might attend the with your teen. There you can also meet parents and other caregivers who are experiencing the same thoughts and feelings you are.
Go with the Flow
Don’t make your child’s sexual or gender preference the center of your family life. Remember that sexual orientation is not all there is to enjoying life and having fulfilling and meaningful relationships. Encourage your teen to have a greater involvement with sports and other extracurricular activities. It’s important that your teen has ways to connect with other gay teens, but also other adolescents in general.
These are suggestions for supporting teens who have chosen a different sexual orientation or gender. These suggestions are also meant to be a resource for parents and caregivers who need to find support for themselves. In fact, getting support for you, your LGBT teen, and the entire family is important to keep family relationships healthy and thriving.