As a parent, you always want what is best for your child. However, when your child sits down with you and tells you that they are transgender, you may not know how to react. After all, your son or daughter just told you that they feel they were born in the wrong body and they identify as the opposite gender of how you raised them. The confusions and mixed emotions that you feel are totally understandable and normal in such a situation. However, to help you and your child maintain your relationship and to help you better understand what is happening, you need to understand what the transgender transition process entails.
Mental Health Evaluation
When a person identifies themselves as transgender, this does not mean they can automatically begin the physical gender reassignment process. First and foremost they will need to see a therapist for a mental health evaluation.
If your child does not already attend therapy, they can get a therapist referral from their primary care physician (such as Cancer Lifeline). These therapy sessions will be used to ensure that your child is mentally stable and truly identifies as transgender.
Therapy is a requirement to undergo the physical aspect of gender reassignment.
Once a therapist signs off that your child is mentally able to handle the transition process, they are able to take the first step. Hormone injections, of either testosterone or estrogen are prescribed and taken at home weekly.
This process can be very intense both physically and emotionally for your child. With each additional injection of gender-specific hormones, your child's body will change. Essentially it is like a condensed version of puberty. All of the emotional and physical turmoil of puberty takes place in a year, and at the end of that year, your child will look and sound like a completely different person.
While your child is undergoing hormone therapy, they will continue to see their therapist to help them deal with all of the intense emotions they are feeling. They will also have regular checkups and blood tests with a medical physician to ensure that their health is not jeopardized.
Gender Reassignment Surgeries
Once your child has begun the hormone injection process, they can also begin to consider undergoing gender reassignment surgeries. These can include various facial surgeries (particularly in the case of male-to-female transitions), breast reduction or augmentation, and of course genital reconstruction.
Not all transgender individuals choose to have all of the gender reassignment surgeries performed. This will depend entirely on your child and what they want for themselves.
As you can see, the transgender transition process is a long and sometimes difficult process for your child. However, it is what they need to go through to become the person they were meant to be. If you have difficulty understanding or coping with this process, you may want to get a therapist referral from your child's doctor or therapist to help you better relate to your child through this process. Understanding what is going on with your child will help you to maintain your relationship going forward.