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LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL,
QUESTIONING YOUNG PEOPLE
GENDER DIVERSE YOUNG PEOPLE
RESOURCES AND REFERENCES
TALKING ABOUT GENDER
It may not be easy for young people who are gender diverse, transgender or
gender questioning to talk with their families about how they feel and what they
are experiencing. In some families, a child or loved one’s clothing, hairstyles or
mannerisms make it obvious that they are questioning their gender or are gender
diverse. In other families, there may be fewer signs that a child or loved one is gender
questioning. Whatever families can do to provide a safe, inclusive space helps create
oppor tunities for a young person to ask questions and seek help when they need it.
Discovering who you are and where you fit can be ver y confusing for some young people
and a safe space for conversations and questions is always valuable. It’s never too late
to star t talking with your child or loved one about their gender expression. It may not
be easy to star t new or difficult conversations, but remember that the young person’s
journey to become ‘who they are’ is as new for them as it is for you. You, your child or
loved one and other family members are all learning together. You do not need to have
all the answers and you will no doubt make mistakes as you move for ward with your
child or loved one. This is typical and OK. Any attempts you make to understand your
child or loved one’s experiences will demonstrate to them that you care and that home
is a place where they can be themselves and belong.
The last 10 years has been quite a life-changing
experience...it’s taught me that it’s really, really
important to continually be open to, to what life
throws at you. You don’t know what life is going
to throw at you, but be open to it and embrace
it with passion and with love and with patience
and openness of communication.
a transgender son, 59, VIC’
Many young people will have been aware from a ver y young age that their sense of their
own gender differs from gender expectations of their assigned sex. Others will have
become more aware of this as they grow older. Many young people will not be cer tain
about what this will mean for them in the shor t or longer term. For some, being gender
diverse or transgender may mean they choose not to dress or identify as any par ticular
gender. Others may look to change their gender identity through medical inter ventions
such as hormone treatment or surger y.
Puber ty may be a par ticularly difficult time for young people who are questioning their
gender because it’s a time when bodies begin to change and the characteristics of a
person’s biological sex may become more obvious (such as the development of breasts
or facial hair). Gender diverse or transgender prepubescent children may be ver y worried
that future physical changes during puber ty will not align with the person they really are.
Letting a person know that there are medical inter ventions that can help stop the
effects of puber ty can be ver y reassuring for them. For parents of young people who
are questioning their gender, it’s impor tant to note that puber ty blockers at adolescence
are reversible, whereas changing gender characteristics after adolescence is often an
What is it like for a young person to tell their family
they are gender diverse or transgender?
Young people who are questioning their gender or who identify as transgender may
disclose this information to families in different ways. Some may tell family members in
a casual conversation; others might make a more formal time to tell a sibling, parent or
grandparent and others may need a bit more distance and use a letter, an email or text to
disclose to family that they are transgender or gender questioning. Coming out as gender
diverse or gender questioning will be a different experience for each person. Some
young people may feel ner vous and vulnerable about discussing their gender identity
with their family; others may find it liberating to express their gender identity to others.
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