Q: I’m 14 and transgender. I’m struggling with dysphoria, but my parents are in denial about the whole thing. How can I talk to them and get help?
A: Thank you for your bravery in sharing your story and telling your parents. Notifying parents of your sexual preferences or gender identity can be a scary and difficult task, especially when parents do not have a basic understanding of these topics. Denial is a common reaction though difficult on the person who is coming out. This is especially trying when experiencing gender dysphoria because of the strong desire to be rid of the gender you were assigned at birth and be the gender you are.
First and foremost, find resources and support for yourself. Approach your parents and let them know that you’d like to seek support whether in the form of a therapist or a support group in your area or online. If you find yourself in conflict with your parents about therapy keep in mind that state law varies from state to state as to how many therapy sessions can be offered to minors without parental consent. For example, in Illinois minors who are 12 years old and older can consent to 5 sessions without parental consent, it is however encouraged to get the consent of your parents to engage in therapeutic services.
You may offer your parents some resources for them to also find support. Offer platforms to your parents to speak with other parents who have gone through transitions with their own children, pflag.org (among others) is a wonderful resource for parents, families, and yourself.
Continue to offer open communication with your parents as a way to be given the space to communicate how you are feeling and your parents are feeling effectively and your parents to ask the questions they need to. The hope is that your parents will listen with an open heart and mind, though understanding this can take some time when in denial. Recognizing that you have been patient in this process and continue to be so, know that it will get better.
You are so strong and so brave to share your story and I wish you nothing but the best in your journey. No matter, you know yourself better than anyone else does. Continue to be true to yourself, always.