As our children venture further and further out into the world, support from community and professionals becomes increasingly critical to a child’s wellbeing.
Family members and friends can be a great source of support, however, they may not have lived experience as a parent of a gender creative child or trans youth. Sometimes it can help to connect with other people who have walked a similar path. A lot of insight can be gained from sharing experiences.
Connecting with other parents can help you feel less alone and be an opportunity to build lifelong friendships. As you gain experience and wisdom, involvement in peer supports can provide opportunities to give back by mentoring new parents, and be a part of advocacy and social change efforts.
Check our peer support directory for groups in your area or look out for events and camps for children and youth.
Gender Odyssey is an international conference focused on the needs and interests of transgender and gender diverse children of all ages, their families and supporters, and the professionals who serve them.
Many parents wonder when and if they need professional support for their child. Many children and youth thrive within supportive environments and have no need to see a health care provider for gender-related issues. However, there may be stressors within or outside the family that make it necessary to access professional supports.
There are two times when professional support is needed. First, if your child is in distress and need psychosocial/mental health support, and second, if they need gender-affirming medical care.
All of us experience ups and downs, and often our own resilience, family, and friends are enough to get us through. However, significant distress may not resolve on its own, and professional psychosocial support may be important for keeping your child safe. If your child is very anxious or depressed, harming themselves, or considering suicide, please help them access professional mental health support.
If they ask to see a counsellor for things such as working through their gender exploration, navigating peer relationships, deciding about possible medical interventions, or dealing with social stigma, help them find a provider who is a good fit for them. Health care professionals can also assist by providing documentation related to support plans at school and in the community.
Psychosocial support may be provided by many different professionals, including counsellors, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists.
Professional support may also be helpful if you or another family member, are feeling distressed. Siblings may need support dealing with changes in the family, especially if they are feeling that their trans sibling is the focus of everyone's attention.
Parents may not always be in agreement about parenting decisions, and counselling can help bring them together so they can better support their child. You may be feeling overwhelmed – juggling the needs of your kids and partner, along with work and advocacy, all while learning what it means to parent a gender creative child or trans youth. Counselling can be a way to take care of yourself so you are ready to support others.
The second situation requiring professional support is if your child needs gender-affirming medical care, such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy, or surgery. Find out more about this care in our Affirmation and Transition page.
It is important to note that not all health care providers have training in gender-affirming care. Providers who are not familiar with gender-affirming care may unintentionally offer advice or interventions that will not be helpful for your child.
We recommend seeking out health care providers who are experienced in working with gender creative children and trans youth, or providers who are clearly willing to learn how to provide the best possible care. If you are looking for resources for professional support in your community, please Contact Us for more information.
This area of care continues to evolve. For information, please visit Navigating System of Care in BC.