My daughter announced she was wanting to be a man - JFCS of Greater Philadelphia

Dear Ally,


My daughter announced she was wanting to be a man. Then right away announced on social media. I am completely freaking out. I have known she was gay since she was very young she is 23 now. I don't want to lose my child. I never thought I was judgemental and here I am. I need advice suggestions and anything you have to offer.

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A

Thank you so much for reaching out. I know this can be an overwhelming experience, and one of the best first steps is asking for help.

I want to start by telling you that everything is going to be okay. You are not going to lose your child. You may be having a tough time right now, learning to understand what looks like a very quick, very huge change, but you will learn more and you will process, and it will be okay. Learning that your child is transgender can be a difficult thing to hear, but it can also be a beautiful thing; you now know that your child trusts you and wants you to know more about who they really are.

I know that it looks to you like your child announced “I’m a man,” and then immediately rushed into posting about it on social media, and that feels very quick. What is important to keep in mind is that transgender individuals rarely – if ever – rush into announcing this kind of information. It usually comes after a very, very long time spent deliberating and worrying and planning. It looks quick to you, but it’s probably taken your child a really long time to come to terms with their identity, and to feel comfortable sharing it.

Some helpful steps that you can take right now:

  1. Find a support group of other parents of transgender children, so you have somewhere to process your emotions that isn’t just with your child. JFCS has a (currently virtual) group of parents that meets monthly – you’d be welcome to join. Email ggodel@jfcsphilly.org for more information.
  2. Do some reading about what it means to be transgender, and to have a transgender child, and to be the parent of a transgender child. Here are some helpful links to start.
  3. Tell your child – tell your son – that you love him. That this is going to take some time and some work for you to process, but that you’re grateful for his honesty and trust in you.

This is just a starting place. It’s going to take some work on your part to learn how to support your child, and to learn how to support yourself as your life changes in this way. Keep in mind, this isn’t something to mourn. You aren’t losing your child – you’re learning more about them and what their identity really is, and that’s an incredible way to get to connect. You’re gaining a brand new perspective on what their life is like, and this has the opportunity to create a beautiful connection between you. Yes, you feel overwhelmed and scared and don’t know what’s going on, but you will figure it out. You will learn about your child and you will learn about yourself. Everything is going to be okay.

If you have any more questions, or want any more support, please feel invited to anonymously write back to Dear Ally, or to email me at ggodel@jfcsphilly.org

– Ally



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