Parents' Voices


“What I love about this group of parents is that we uphold our kids’ right to self-identify and we work to support their self-identification. Sometimes, this is easy, but it is often hard; not because we don’t want to be 100% supportive, but because the path to self-identification can be winding and there isn’t just one way to be supportive. I also love that we are empathetic toward one another. Even the most supportive parents can feel confused, scared and angry. I think of this as a safe place to voice concerns that I might be afraid to share in another context. Sometimes, these are thoughts that I am not proud of, and I am thankful to those who help me find new ways of thinking. Sometimes, we have feel-good, rah-rah, go-get-’em conversations. Other times we have difficult conversations, where folks do not agree. Both are good (hard doesn’t necessarily mean bad). It is how we build community and come to understand each other’s experiences.” 


“The conversation with old friends quickly turns to the question of whether or not my son is gay; and I say, ‘I don’t know, he hasn’t told us’. At 13, some parents have been told, in our circles, at any rate; but not us. The mystery continues.” 


“This sounds exactly like our entire school experience: well-meaning teachers, frequent repetitions of several mantras: ‘celebrate diversity’ and ‘be kind to all’. BUT, it has been very difficult for them to be proactive and to actively engage in conversations about gender diversity. I don’t think they have the language or the comfort level. They respond to overt problems, but the soft-pedal approach does not send a clear message to our child that gender diversity in particular is celebrated. Nor does it help kids learn the language they need to navigate social relationships with our child. I am thankful for what we have but wish we had so much more.” 


“Living with ambiguity can be very hard.” 


“We left the decision on what to wear up to our son, and I think I held my breath the entire school day on the first day he decided to wear his dress (his only one at the time—and it was for picture day last fall). His friends actually complimented him on it at the bus stop before school, and he didn’t have any incidents all day. Since that day, it’s been all dresses all the time, everywhere. I don’t know how much of his good experience is due to good luck, a great school/teacher and/or the innate kindness/acceptance of young children (our son is only in first grade). He absolutely wrestled with this decision the night before picture day. It was excruciating for us as parents to witness this (‘Will people make fun of me? What if they do?’), but we just prepped him as best we could and ultimately let him make the decision.” 


“Sometimes, a little candor can help break the tension; in fact, something along the lines of: ‘I know it’s different and, to be honest, it’s taken me/us a little time to get used to it, too’—but after reading around and talking to experts, it’s become clear that the healthiest thing for us to do is to accept him as he is.” 


“Her ‘diagnosis’ is gender dysphoria; but the unofficial diagnosis is ‘very frilly’, which I thought was cute.” 

“My ten-year-old son said to me yesterday: ‘I’ve been working for YEARS to not just see the boy and girl boxes.’ I wasn’t quite sure what he meant, so asked him to explain. ‘You know, like when I’m looking at people.’ Me: ‘Oh, so when you’re out in the world, you try to just see the person and not put them into a box?’ He: ‘Exactly! I keep thinking about it and thinking about it. And I have myself mostly trained.’ We noted how interesting it is that what he hopes from others—that they just see him as himself, as opposed to someone who fits into a particular gendered box—takes years of self-training, even for him. Here’s to wishing those boxes were not so deeply ingrained in all of our minds, or that we had as much discipline as our son to work to erase them.” 


“But right now, I just need to admit that I worry a lot. I worry about my son’s future, no matter what it holds. I’ll support him. We’ll support him. But what will he encounter ‘out there’?” 


“We realized that we really needed to find some help and support for raising our child when we walked into the first-grade classroom and saw his self-portrait on the wall wearing a gown with long curly black hair. We wanted to address the issue with the school but had no vocabulary to describe our situation. What do you call a boy who likes to wear girls’ clothes? Luckily, we found the camp support group and found our answer— that our child was gender-nonconforming.” 


“I always loved Halloween— the chance to just be someone else. My son wishes to be someone else just about every day and yet, even on the day society says it’s okay to be someone else, he still can’t or won’t out of fear. It’s not fair and I don’t have the answer. I want to tell him to be that princess and to hell with the neighbors!” 


“Raising my son is a constant reminder that we tend to think in exclusionary binaries. I think our kids are not one, but ‘all of the above’. And that is their gift to themselves, to us, and to the rest of the world.” 


“I believe that well-intended teachers, like our son’s, may inadvertently transform something natural into a problem, and may miss an opportunity to educate the rest of the class on gender fluidity. Unfortunately, not too many teacher education programs prepare teachers with how to respond to the opportunities gender-nonconforming students bring to the classroom. I would strongly recommend that you have a conversation with your principal and guidance counselor and request that all adults in the school be educated about gender identity and expression.” 


“Having a gender-creative child forces you to completely reevaluate who and what you are as a human being.” 


“One of the most powerful things said to us in support group, as parents, was that it was okay to think that what our child was going through was different—because it is different from being heterosexual, as many of us are. It is going to take a minute for some people to readjust. We are not typically seeing gender diversity embraced, and many of us are not gender diverse. So support those people who have that moment, but then move toward acceptance. We all love our kids so we embrace their diversity. But it takes many others that half a second longer to get to where we are, sometimes longer. And that’s okay. We’re all working on it.”