Toolkit for Parents with Transgender Kids/Teens


February 27, 2023

As a parent, it can be challenging and overwhelming to know how to support your child. It is important to listen to your child/teen, be patient, and talk openly and frequently with them. It takes a lot of bravery to come out as trans, so make sure you child knows this and that you love them!

What does Transgender mean?

Transgender is a term that includes the many ways that people's gender identities can be different from the sex they were assigned at birth. There are a lot of different terms transgender people may use to describe themselves. It is always best to use the language and pronouns that the person prefers. Transgender people may express their gender identities in a variety of ways. This can include behaviour, dress, or mannerisms. Some may take hormones or have surgery. Remember, that transgender people are diverse in their gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientations.

How does Transgender identity differ from sexual orientation?

People can often confuse gender identity with sexual orientation. However, being transgender isn't the same thing as being lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Gender identity, whether transgender or cisgender is about who you are inside. Being Lesbian, gay, bisexual, or straight describes who you are attracted to romantically emotionally and sexually.

What is gender dysphoria?

Transgender people may feel distressed due to the difference between their gender identity and the gender or sex they were assigned at birth. This can be in the form of physical dysphoria or social dysphoria. As a parent, you should look out for a persistent, insistent,t and consistent gender identification that is different o the one they were given at birth. Some will disclose their dysphoria in their teens, usually around the time of puberty. The diagnosis of gender dysphoria is often the gateway to having insurance coverage of gender-affirming care and to allowing trans people to live as their most authentic selves.

If your child is going through gender dysphoria it is important to let them know that they are loved and supported. Provide them with a great amount of patience, time, and understanding. Likewise, it is best that you increase your knowledge and understanding especially concerning education and medical.

Ways to start supporting your transgender child/teen:

  • Always use the name and pronouns that align with your child's gender identity.
  • Be your child's advocate -- call out transphobia when you see it and ask that others respect your child's identity.
  • Educate yourself about the concerns facing transgender youth and adults.
  • Learn what schools can and should do to support and affirm your child.
  • Encourage your child to stand up for themselves when it is safe to do so and to set boundaries when necessary.
  • Assure your child that they have your unconditional love and support.

Identity Labels and Terms:

People's thoughts and feelings concerning their gender can be complex. There are a variety of words and labels that people may use. You should respect the words your child likes to use to describe themselves. Transgender people use many different terms to describe their experiences. If your child is not sure what identity label fits them best then give them the time to decide this for themselves. The language and labels they use may change and differ over time.

Common Gender Identity Terms:


Those who identify as the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, a baby born with a vulva is categorized a girl. If she also sees herself as a girl throughout her life, she is considered cisgender.\

Cross-Dresser (sometimes shortened to CD)

A person --- typically a cisgender man --- who sometimes wears feminine clothing in order to have fun, entertain, gain emotional satisfaction, for sexual enjoyment, or to make a political statement about gender roles.\

Gender Fluidity

A sense that one's gender identity or expression is not set in stone, and that it can change over time or even from day to day. For some people, gender fluid is a gender identity. A gender fluid person may feel male on some days, female on others, both male and female, or neither. A gender fluid person might also identify as genderqueer.

Gender nonconforming

When a person's gender expression doesn't fit inside traditional male or female categories (sometimes called the gender binary).\

**Gender non-binary\ **When a person's gender identity doesn't fit inside traditional male or female categories Genderqueer

A term for people who don't identify as a man or a woman or whose identity lies outside the traditional gender binary of male and female. Some people use genderqueer, gender nonconforming, and non-binary interchangeably, but others don't. Genderqueer has a political history, so many use the term to identify their gender as non-normative in some way. For example, someone could identify as both cisgender female and genderqueer. Intersex

A general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn't fit the typical definitions of female or male. Sometimes an intersex person is assigned a female or male sex at birth through surgery, if external genitals are not obviously male or female. Intersex babies are always assigned a legal sex, but sometimes when they grow up, their gender doesn't match the sex selected for them. Some intersex people are transgender, but intersex does not necessarily mean transgender.

Offensive Gender Identity Terms:

The labels listed below are outdated and can be offensive, so best to avoid using these:

Gender Identity Disorder (or GID)

The preferred term is gender dysphoria.


The preferred term is intersex.

Pre-operative, post-operative (also pre-op or post-op)

A set of terms to describe a transgender person who has had or not had sex reassignment surgeries. Focusing on whether someone has had surgery can be considered invasive or a violation of someone's privacy. Also many transgender people don't want (or don't have access to) surgeries that would change their body. Lastly, there are a variety of other ways transgender people transition besides sex reassignment surgery.

Sex Change Operation

Preferred terms are Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) or gender affirming surgery.


An offensive term for a transgender woman, especially one who has had medical treatment for her breasts, but still has a penis. This term may be used by sex-workers or within the porn industry.\

Tranny (sometimes referred to as The T-word)

While some transgender people use the word tranny to describe their gender, most find it highly offensive --- a derogatory slur.


Adding -ed to the end of transgender isn't grammatically correct. You wouldn't say that someone is gayed, womaned, or Latinoed. Similarly you wouldn't call someone transgendered.


An older term for people whose gender identities don't match the sex that was assigned at birth and who desire and/or seek to transition to bring their bodies into alignment with their gender identities. Some people find this term offensive, others do not. Only refer to someone as transsexual if they tell you that's how they identify.


The National Center for Transgender Equality





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