This can help if:
- your teen is in the process of disclosing their gender identity
- your teen wants to come out as trans at school
- you're worried about the implications of transitioning at school
When your teen comes out to you as transgender or gender diverse, there’s a lot to discuss. Like what they want to do about coming out at school, and how that’s handled. Before you start talking to them about it let them know that you’re there to help in any way you can.
First, find out how they feel about coming out as transgender at school
Don’t assume your teen wants to come out at school. They may not be ready to take that step:
- Ask them who they’ve come out to already, and their hopes and concerns about coming out at school.
- Be clear that they’re in the driving seat and must take it at a pace they feel comfortable with.
- Any transition your teen makes may let people know they’re transgender or gender diverse. Mare sure they’ve considered this, so they can remain in control of their coming out process.
Coming out at school can be good for your trans teen's wellbeing
As a loving parent the last thing you want is for your child to be bullied. So you may feel like encouraging them to wait until they’ve left school to come out or transition. However research shows this isn’t helpful:
- LBTQI teens that come out at school, versus later in life, have been shown to enjoy better mental health. Being open about their sexual or gender identity is good for their self esteem and wellbeing.
- Three out of four LGBTQI teens are subjected to bullying or discrimination, and 80% of this occurs at school. Even if your teen doesn’t come out at school, they may still be subjected to abuse simply for being perceived to be different.
- Coming out to trusted classmates and teachers can have the benefit of creating a protective support system around your teen.
- Bullying is against the law. Should your teen experience transphobic abuse you can take action to stop it.
Things to consider if your teen is ready to disclose their gender identity at school
How supportive is your teen’s school towards its LBTQI students? The school’s policies, and the overall sentiment of staff and students, will help your teen decide if and when they come out as transgender there:
- Find out what active anti-bullying policy your teen’s school has in place. Does it have specific protection for LGBTQI students?
- Does the school have an organised group where students ally with LGBTQI classmates? It will give your teen a safe place to be out.
- Are there any other transgender students out at school? Encourage your teen to talk to them and find out their experiences. If there aren’t people at school, many young trans people connect online through things like YouTube and Tumblr.
- It’s very important that your teen feel safe coming out at school. If they don’t, then they should feel supported to wait until the timing is better.
- Reassure your teen that that they can come out at school but not transition, it’s completely up to them.
- If they do come out at school, suggest they speak to the school’s wellbeing co-ordinator or counsellor so they’re aware too. If your teen’s comfortable with the principal and teachers knowing, offer to go with your teen to tell them.
- Find out whether the school has a transition policy and discuss this with the principal.Your teen needs to be comfortable that they have the school’s support.
- Transitioning looks different for different people, so talk to your teen about what they want to do.
- If they change their name and pronouns, ask for this to be changed on the school register, and for teachers to use them. It establishes that this is accepted with the entire school.
- Your teen may need to get permission to wear or use clothes or kit that the school segregates by sex. Again talking with the principal will help work out solutions that work for everyone.
- Some schools accommodate the needs of transitioning teens well. If this is not the case, your teen may need to change schools and go where they can thrive under their true gender identity. Though this might be tricky depending on where you live.