Skip this question >

Accessibility Tools

Family Mental Health & Wellbeing

Family Mental Health & Wellbeing Research
  • Choose ‘Print to PDF’ under printer options to save as PDF to your device


The positive aspects of being the parent of a trans child: Findings from Trans Pathways


Authors: Morgan, H., Lin, A., Perry, Y., Cook, A., Winter, S., Watson, V., Wright Toussaint, D. & Strauss, P.
Date of publication: 2023
Journal: LGBTQ+ Family: An Interdisciplinary Journal

Summary: The existing literature exploring the experiences of parenting a trans child tends towards reporting the challenging aspects of the parental journey. Studies also reference positive experiences such as enhanced parent-child connectedness and affirmation of personal values. Limited dedicated research focused on the positive aspects of parenting a trans child exists. The reasearchers aimed to better understand positive parental experiences accordingly. Using data from a large cross-sectional survey, they analysed responses from 134 parents to a single open-text question asking what parents had experienced as positive about parenting their trans child.

They found that all parents identified at least one positive aspect; most cited multiple benefits. Five major themes emerged from the data: 1) Personal growth (such as becoming more informed and more open-minded); 2) experiencing the strengths of the child (such as their courage, their caring qualities and their resilience); 3) improved aspects of the parent-child relationship (such as growing closer and experiencing unconditional love); 4) positive change in the child (such as increased happiness and self-confidence); 5) experiencing social connection and support. Findings provide a nuanced addition to the literature on parental experiences and have clinical implications for those working with parents of trans children. A better understanding of positive parental experiences can aid clinicians in increasing parental support and acceptance for young people within an affirmative framework.

You can read a summary of the study only here.

Experiences of gender minority stress in cisgender parents of transgender/gender-expansive prepubertal children: A qualitative study


Authors: Hidalgo, M. A., & Chen, D.
Date of publication: 2019
Journal: Health Education & Behavior

Summary: This US study looked at the experiences of 24 parents of gender diverse children aged 4 to 11 years regarding the stressors they reported. The researchers used minority stress theory as a framework to analyse parents’ experiences. Minority stress theory suggests that members of a minority group experience unique stresses due to being ‘different’ to the mainstream culture. This difference can result in stressors such as stigma, prejudice, rejection and discrimination which, in turn, can cause physical and mental health difficulties. The researchers believed that parents may also experience minority stress through the experiences of their children.

They found that parents did experience two kinds of minority stress. Distal stressors were objective and external stressors and included experiences like gender-related discrimination, victimisation, rejection. Parents talked about experiences such as feeling judged by other parents for supporting their child, avoiding social situations when with their child to avoid feeling awkward, being anxious about using public transport with their child if their identification did not match the child’s gender identity, and having friends and relatives end relationships with them. Proximal stressors were internal or individual stressors such as having negative beliefs about gender diverse people and about their child’s future and difficulty managing the balance between when to disclose their child’s gender identity and when to conceal it. The researchers found many negative health impacts for parents including anxiety, guilt, grief, poor sleep and diet, increased substance use, stress and feeling burnt out as a parent.

You can read the study summary only here

Parental challenges, facilitators and needs associated with supporting and accepting their trans child’s gender


Authors: Morgan, H., Wells, L., Lin, A., Strauss, P. & Perry, Y.
Date of publication: 2023
Journal: LGBTQ+ Family: An Interdisciplinary Journal

Summary: This Australian study aimed to develop a detailed understanding of the challenges and enablers experienced by Australian parents in developing understanding, support and acceptance of their child’s gender and their needs to do so. The researchers interviewed 30 parents, aged between 35 and 58 years, of gender diverse children aged under 25 years and asked about their initial reactions to discovering their child’s gender identity, and their needs and preferences for information, support and/or interventions. Participants described a range of complex emotions, reported by some as “an emotional roller-coaster” and exhausting mental burden as they simultaneously supported their child, searched for information, and navigated multiple systems such as school and healthcare. They named many barriers to understanding and supporting their child including lack of understanding of gender diversity, difficulty in accessing good-quality information easily, managing their own strong emotions, the need to constantly educate others and advocate for their child and practical barriers such as their geographical location, finances and onerous treatment pathways. Parents of non-binary children and parents of younger children (pre-puberty) described greater challenges in finding good-quality information. Other challenges included “re-wiring their brains” to adapt to new `names and pronouns and coping with the fast pace of their child’s desire to make changes. Commonly, parents found that their child had been aware of their gender identity and thinking about it for months or years before they disclosed to their parents.

Good-quality information, seeing positive emotional and behavioural changes in their child once affirmed and peer connections with other parents of gender diverse children were powerful enablers for increased support. Parents also noted understanding the negative mental health impacts of not supporting their child through accessing statistics and viewing a gender diverse identity as not something a child would choose given the challenges inherent in living in an often uneducated and unsafe world were also enablers for support.

You can read the study summary only here

The sibling experience: growing up with a trans sibling


Authors: Parker, E. & Davis-McCabe, C.
Date of publication: 2021
Journal: Australian Journal of Psychology

This Western Australian study looked at the experiences and needs of 17 siblings (aged 14-26 years) of trans people. The researchers found that siblings also go through processes of transition. Siblings reported challenges such as lack of knowledge of trans identities, a lack of trans visibility in society, having to act as the go-between between their trans sibling and others, managing conflict, experiencing strain or cut-off in their relationships with other people, holding the knowledge of their sibling’s gender identity when others were unaware, witnessing their trans sibling’s negative experiences, and suppressing their own negative emotions. Positive experiences included developing stronger and closer relationships with their sibling, strengthened family relationships, experiencing support from family and social relationships, and developing their understanding of diversity and identity. The researchers concluded that siblings a. need accessible and accurate information about gender diversity; b. to see increased trans visibility; c. to connect with others in similar situations and; d. targeted counselling and services.

You can read the full study here.