Motherly Collective

Content warning: Discussion of suicide risk for trans teens ahead.

I’m a parent of a trans child. Every day I worry if today is the day she’ll be bullied or reminded that people hate her and us because she simply exists. 

Most days, I can keep my head up and drown out the sound of bigotry that weaves itself into the news cycle and political speak. But recently, it’s been hard. So very hard to see the uprising of hate.

Related: Gender-affirming care saved my teen’s life

Most days, I can tell myself and my child that people hate things they don’t understand. That fear of change comes from a close-mindedness that isn’t willing to learn and grow. That openness and love will always win over vitriol.

But I’m tired. And I’m feeling worn down and close to tears throughout the day, so I have to turn off the news. 

How dare someone tell me or anyone with a child what they can and can’t do to support their child. How dare lawmakers without a medical degree or even an understanding of how to read scientific literature make decisions that adversely impact children. How dare they create a world that puts one of the most vulnerable groups of people even more at risk. 

Related: What it’s like to raise a transgender child

My daughter has loved tutus, dresses and fashion since she started speaking. She has known who she was well before my husband and I had any idea. We waited, watched and wondered. My husband thought she just loved playing dress-up, and I noticed that all so-called “boys” clothes were gray, blue, and black. “Maybe she just wants to experiment with pretty colors and sparkles,” I thought.

It was all and none of that. She’s a girl who loves bright colors, sparkles and fashion. We had no choice, and neither did she.

If you’ve never had this close relationship with a trans child, then there’s no way you can possibly understand what it’s like to go through this transition. We experienced fear, grief, love and pride all wrapped in one. And we still feel it daily.

To an outsider, it may have seemed easier for everyone if she’d just pushed who she is down inside herself. Or for us as her parents who “know better” and write it off as a phase that she’d grow out of. 

Ignoring who she is would have slowly killed her. I know the stats: Trans teens are more likely to die by suicide than nearly any other group. But do you know what the research also says? Trans children who are accepted and loved by those around them, who feel safe and seen, are that much less likely to suffer. Trans individuals who receive gender affirming care are 60% less likely to suffer from severe depression, and 73% less likely to attempt suicide.1Tordoff DM, Wanta JW, Collin A, Stepney C, Inwards-Breland DJ, Ahrens K. Mental health outcomes in transgender and nonbinary youths receiving gender-affirming care. JAMA network open. 2022 Feb 1;5(2):e220978-

So when lawmakers or anyone else calls parents of trans kids child abusers, it’s actually quite the opposite. Those of us who embrace our children no matter who they are, who support them, and listen to them are the ones saving our children. 

Related: Gender-affirming care for trans youth is life-saving care

It’s easy to ignore the anti-trans bills if you aren’t directly impacted, especially if it’s in another state. But we can’t, and we feel scared for our children and their future, of growing up in a world where they hear messages of hate and that something is wrong with them everywhere. I implore you to research the onslaught of legislation that directly attacks trans children, adults and their guardians.

If you met my daughter, you’d see a lovely, artistic and thoughtful child. She’s exactly who she should be, and I wish I didn’t have to worry about what will happen when she hits puberty and beyond. But it’s my reality, and right now, and I’m scared.

Check on your friends with trans kids. Check on your trans friends. We need all the allyship and support we can get right now.


This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother's journey is unique. By amplifying each mother's experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you're interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please click here.

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