It’s not a phase.
You will lose you children if you do not accept them for who they are and what they are telling you.
By the time they come out to you they’ve been having these thoughts/feelings for at least a year and likely have experimented with presenting in whatever way they feel is authentic.
When I say you will “lose” your children I mean many things: they will move out, they will stop speaking to you, they will become homeless turn to drugs instead of living in a non-welcoming/accepting/loving environment, and they might kill themselves and actually die.
I treat many LGBT individuals from young adolescents to people over the age of fifty. I am not trying to scare you I am simply stating the reality of the situation.
They yearn for your acceptance. They remember every nuance of the conversation when they first came out to you. They remember every time you’ve shown disgust toward them. They remember every time you’ve shown them love and acceptance. Even those who have been estranged from parents for years still hope against hope to reconnect and be accepted and loved by their Mom and Dad.
Every holiday, every Mother’s Day, every Father’s Day, every time they see some one who looks/smells/acts like you they think of you. They talk about you in therapy. They cry about you, they yell about you, and so much more. Even after you have passed away and they have children or grandchildren of their own, they remember and they tell their story about their parents.
Specifically to the parents of transgender or non-binary individuals…I know this is a lot to wrap your head around. You will mourn the loss of your son or daughter as they evolve into their new individual self. You will mourn the loss of the name that you likely painstakingly chose. But the pain you experience is only a fraction of the fear, the emotional pain, and the physical pain that your child will feel during their gender journey. They are facing a lifetime of discrimination and permanent alterations to their body that are often painful. They are facing being physically assaulted, sexually assaulted, and even murdered for presenting as who they are. While you certainly are entitled to feel any way you want, this is not about you. When you are with them it’s about them. Be present with them. Love them. Do your own work with your own therapist away from them. Talk to trusted friends or family members, join support groups, but also know this about your child.
At the end of the day your children are the bravest people I know. They are living in a manner that is true to them in a society that is not always accepting, and can be downright hostile.
Listen to your child. Learn from them. Love them. Admire them as I do. Move forward with them. Otherwise you will lose them.
An LGBT Therapist