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LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL,
QUESTIONING YOUNG PEOPLE
GENDER DIVERSE YOUNG PEOPLE
RESOURCES AND REFERENCES
Sometimes, young people are outed before they are ready. A parent or sibling may have
found a young person searching for information online or a young person may have
been outed at school or in their social group. If this has happened, it’s likely that your
child is anxious about how people will react. It will be impor tant to acknowledge and
understand how distressing this may be for your child or loved one.
For some people, gender diverse behaviour may have star ted at a ver y early age and
a coming out process might therefore be a confirmation of something parents or
loved ones had suspected or are already suppor ting, rather than the sharing of new
or surprising information.
Some families are pleased their child or loved one has opened up about their gender
diversity and are eager to suppor t them. Therefore they may experience a sense of
relief that their child or loved one has decided to trust them and seek their suppor t
to explore or become who they really are. Never theless, having a conversation about
gender might still be ver y new and uncomfor table and may elicit a range of feelings
for ever yone in the family.
Telling a parent, sibling or other family member can be extremely stressful.
Conversations about gender require people to reveal ver y personal feelings with which
they may still be coming to terms, and which they know others may not understand.
It’s not uncommon for parents and family members initially to experience a range of
emotions (some of which may be negative) when their child or loved one discloses that
they are gender questioning. Feelings of guilt, shock, anger, shame, disappointment,
denial, grief and embarrassment may be experienced by you or other family members.
Deciding to tell a family member about gender questioning or transitioning, brings with
it a risk of rejection and loss of family connection – it can be an incredibly scar y thing
to do. A s such, young people will really notice when parents or other family members
demonstrate inclusive and positive feelings towards gender diversity.
To help ensure the best health and wellbeing outcomes for your child or loved one, it’s
impor tant to reassure them that you love them. You can work through any negative
reactions with a trained counsellor or your own suppor t networks; it’s not up to your
child or loved one to help you process any negative feelings.
Your child or loved one will experience a range of emotions at this time and the more
you can do to create an inclusive, open environment, the more they will be able to talk
to you about the doubts and the changes they are going through and ask for help and
suppor t from within the family when they need it.
You cannot underestimate how stressful it can be for people to disclose that they are
gender diverse, transgender or gender questioning. Up to now, your child or loved one
has been living (and acting) a role that is expected of them, rather than feeling free to
be themselves. It’s not easy to go against society’s expectations of how ‘boys’ and ‘girls’
should behave or to feel that your biological sex at birth is not right for you. Most people
would not change their gender if they felt they had a choice, and to get to this point,
your child or loved one will have already had a difficult process to accept themselves
and the journey ahead. This is not because being transgender, gender questioning or
gender diverse is bad or wrong. It’s because of your child or loved one’s expectations of
negative reactions from family and community, the fear of rejection and the unknown. It
has been shown that positive af firming responses and an inclusive family environment
are impor tant factors that help protect gender diverse, transgender and gender
questioning young people from developing feelings of low self-wor th and despair.
All I really needed to know at the time was that
what I felt was OK and part of the process. That
I wasn’t an awful daughter for feeling confused
and unhappy about this huge change that made
her so happy. I felt for a while like I’d lost my dad
and I needed to grieve that. And then I felt terribly
guilty, because really, my dad was still there, just
repackaged and with an upgrade.
Helen, 33, NSW
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