Coming Out Parental ToolkitFreyja
February 27, 2023
For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans people telling someone they're LGBTQ+ can feel like sharing their biggest secret, and not knowing if the person they're going to tell will understand it, keep it private, or if they will still be friends with them once they've said it. Being a parent is about celebrating and raising your child, not the child you thought that you would have. Even if you are having trouble understanding your child's identity or feelings, not withdrawing from your role as a parent is probably one of the most important ways to help a child continue to feel a sense of being cared for and accepted. Feeling loved has been shown to be critical to the overall health and development of all children regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Many parents do need their own supports to help them understand and cope with their own difficult emotions and concerns during a child's "coming out. Family support can play an important role in a number of ways, it can:
- Play an important role in advocating for safe spaces where their child can explore interests without judgment or stereotypes.
- Support diverse friendships and social involvement without focusing on expectations around gender.
- Provide exposure to people working and enjoying activities outside of conventional gender expectations.
- Engage in conversations and check regularly with your children about their interests, friend groups, romantic attractions, and any bullying or teasing that may be taking place.
What not to say:
When your child/teen comes out to you there are a couple of things that you should avoid saying (but not limited to):
1.'you're just confused'
2. 'You are going through a phase'
3.'You don't look or act lesbian/gay/bi/trans'
4.'I always knew you were LGBTQ+
What to do before someone comes out:
1.Don't judge people, create spaces where people can be themselves. 2.Challenge homo/bi/transphobia when you see or hear it.\ 3.Talk about LGBTQ+ people and celebrities in a positive way.\ 4.Get the Knowledge. Read up on a number of available resources.
When someone comes out:
1.Don't overreact or make a big deal of it.\ 2.Thank them for trusting you, let them know you won't tell anyone without their permission. 3.If someone comes out to you as trans, ask which pronouns they prefer.\ 4.Don't ask rude or overly personal questions.\ 5.Remind them you're there for support.\ 6.Don't compare them with others or make assumptions.\ 7.Offer to help them find resources.
UNDERSTANDING GENDER IDENTITY
Your gender identity is how you think about yourself. This is the gender that you identify with and/or feel that you are. Some people feel as though they do not have a gender at all, and may refer to themselves as an agender or non-gendered
What is the definition of non-binary?
Most people -- including most transgender people -- are either male or female. But some people don't neatly fit into the categories of "man" or "woman," or "male" or "female." For example, some people have a gender that blends elements of being a man or a woman, or a gender that is different from either male or female. Some people don't identify with any gender. Some people's gender changes over time. People whose gender is not male or female use many different terms to describe themselves, with non- binary being one of the most common. Other terms include genderqueer, agender, bigender, and more. None of these terms mean exactly the same thing -- but all speak to an experience of gender that is not simply male or female.
How to be respectful and supportive of non-binary people:
You don't have to understand what it means for someone to be non-binary to respect them. Some people haven't heard a lot about non-binary genders or have trouble understanding them, and that's okay. But identities that some people don't understand still deserve respect.\ Use the name a person asks you to use. This is one of the most critical aspects of being respectful of a non- binary person, as the name you may have been using may not reflect their gender identity. Don't ask someone what their old name was. Try not to make any assumptions about people's gender. You can't tell if someone is non-binary simply by looking at them, just like how you can't tell if someone is transgender just by how they look.If you're not sure what pronouns someone uses, ask. Different non-binary people may use different pronouns. Many non-binary people use "they" while others use "he" or "she," and still others use other pronouns. Asking whether someone should be referred to as "he," "she," "they," or another pronoun may feel awkward at first, but is one of the simplest and most important ways to show respect for someone's identity. Advocate for non-binary friendly policies. It's important for non-binary people to be able to live, dress and have their gender respected at work, at school and in public spaces.\ Understand that, for many non-binary people, figuring out which bathroom to use can be challenging. For many non-binary people, using either the women's or the men's room might feel unsafe, because others may verbally harass them or even physically attack them. Non-binary people should be supported by being able to use the restroom that they believe they will be safest in.Talk to non-binary people to learn more about who they are. There's no one way to be non-binary. The best way to understand what it's like to be non-binary is to talk with non-binary people and listen to their stories.
UNDERSTANDING GENDER EXPRESSION
Gender expression is how you display your gender and is demonstrated through the ways that you act, dress, behave and interact in the world, in relation to the gender expectations of society. Essentially, gender expression is how a person presents their gender outwardly, through behaviour, clothing, voice or other perceived characteristics. Society identifies these cues as masculine or feminine, although what is considered masculine or feminie changes over time and varies by culture. Understanding biological sex:
Biological sex is usually determined by birth, based on observation of your genitals. Nevertheless, your chromosomes, hormones, genes and internal sex organs can also contribute to the make-up of your biological sex.
Understanding Sexual Orientation
The types of people, usually based on gender, that you find yourself attracted to, can help you determine your sexual orientation. Attraction can be emotional, sexual, physical, and/or spiritual. Some people experience little or no sexual attraction and may refer to themselves as asexual. Here are some key definitions to help improve your understanding:
- Lesbian = a woman who is emotionally, romantically, and/or physically attracted to other women.
- Gay = A person who is emotionally, romantically, and/or physically attracted to people of the same gender
- Bisexual = an individual who is emotionally, romantically, and/or physically attracted to people of their own gender and different genders.
- Trans = An umbrella term describing a person's gender identity that does not necessarily match their sex given at birth.
- Pansexual = refers to individuals who are attracted to all gender identities, biological sexes, romantically or sexually.
- Asexual = a person who has no sexual feelings or desires, or who is not sexually attracted to anyone.
Below is a list of further resources for parents:
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