Our Counsellor-In-Training Chloe Hill writes:
The only thing as a parent you want your child to be is happy. So to hear the words that they are “born wrong” is a shock.
Even if you have been quietly wondering whether your child may be living with gender non-conforming tendencies, you may have been quick to dismiss your suspicions. Alternatively, you may have begun thinking your child is going to grow up questioning their sexuality.
The thing is though, when it comes to gender, sexuality is a completely different thing. Gender is very straightforward in the eyes of most people. Male or Female, what could possibly be so hard? But for some it is hard. It is a difficult struggle you battle with every day. But if you are lucky, you have parents, family and friends who support you through this.
Support is paramount, the key to a happy gender non-conforming child is support and a safe space to explore and be “themselves”. Most gender non-conforming children, even if bullied at school, tend to come out of the transitional period relatively unscathed - just so long as they have a safe place where they feel protected, accepted, loved and supported.
I wanted to explore every avenue and expand my knowledge in this area. I was lucky enough to meet some amazing people when I trained in Leeds with the Mermaids Charity. Mermaids offer support to Parents/Teens/Families and Professionals all helping children who may be showing signs of Gender Dysphoria. I am extremely grateful for the experience and knowledge I gained.
My 5 tips for a parent of a gender non-conforming child;
Reach Out – It is an extremely stressful and upsetting time when you yourself maybe very confused. Seek support from your GP, your child’s school, support groups/charities such as Mermaids, or Sheena Amos Youth Trust (SayIt Sheffield), a counsellor or even just confide in a friend.
Seek a Referral to the Tavistock clinic – There are many ways to be referred but your GP’s referral is probably the easiest. The Tavistock work with the children and family to educate and to offer understanding of what is going on for the child. The clinic don’t influence the child one way or another but simply walk on their journey with them gently questioning while doing so.
Protect, Accept, Love and Support your child, tell them they can talk to you about anything that may be worrying them.
Allow your child the space to explore who they are, offer them a safe place to be themselves. A safe place for example would be a home environment where the child can feel accepted, whatever their preference. Perhaps you can provide some dress up clothes for the child to explore, or maybe go and choose a few pieces the child likes from a shop.
Ignore what Society tells you is “Normal”. There is no normal, everyone has a different opinion of what their version of normal is, therefore normal does not exist.
To book an appointment with Chloe Hill email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0114 326 0043