In our information sheet What to do when your child tells you they’re gender diverse, we offer guidance on how to handle big emotions after your child comes out to you. The steps below are further actions you may want to think about taking. We have produced this information from evidence-based research. The quotes in this information sheet come from participants in our own research studies.
Gender diverse children report better mental health and better tolerance to stressors when their families engage in supportive behaviours. This can include self-education through resources such as online information and documentaries, emotional support and advocacy, and practical support such as financing clothing and providing access to gender-affirming health care if wanted.
Tell family and friends
With your child’s permission, talk to family members and close friends about their gender exploration, and ask that they respectfully try to use your child’s new name and pronouns. Asking your child to not express their gender around friends, other family members, or outside of the house can make them feel they need to hide who they are, or that you are ashamed of them. If you feel there are certain people who may have trouble respecting your child’s wishes, talk to your child and work out a plan together on how best to proceed.
Our information sheet How to talk to family and friends about your child’s gender identity includes guidance on how to have these conversations. You can also find helpful scripts you can use when communicating in Helpful Wording: Disclosing your child’s gender identity to family and friends. You can also offer resources to family and friends to help them understand what your child needs. We recommend our resources Understanding gender and gender diversity and Helpful Wording: How to talk to young children about gender diversity.
Inform their school, extra-curricular activities and medical professionals
Parents often have to be advocates and educators across many areas of life such as school, health and legal systems. It can be an exhausting role for parents.
It’s exhausting because you are permanently educating, every single conversation is difficult because you’re having to educate and advocate constantly.” (Mother of male, 20)
To help ease the burden, we’ve designed some resources to help when communicating about your child. Here are letter templates you can tailor to inform different settings about your child’s gender identity. Click on the links for these resources:
Here are guides for school settings. Click on the links for these resources:
We have also compiled some questions you may want to use with medical professionals: Helpful Wording: Questions to ask your child’s medical professionals.
Give your child space to experiment
Your child might want to experiment over time with what gender identity and expression feels best. TransHub has created a guide for finding clothes, shoes and underwear, and you can also help them by discussing and using a new name and pronouns. Young people who are supported by their parents to live openly and express their gender identity show improvements in their wellbeing.
Provide avenues for them to develop on their own
Conversely, your child may feel more comfortable working things out on their own. Access to safe spaces where they feel comfortable to explore their gender identity can be helpful
Connecting your child with others who understand exactly what they’re going through can help them feel less isolated. They can share challenges, celebrate successes and exchange strategies for dealing with difficult situations.
Trans groups are amazing spaces just to see other people’s stories and identities. Everyone transitions and exists in different ways, so it is amazing to be able to see that.” (Male, 22)
View the Get Support page on this site for a list of supportive groups your child may want to connect with.
Seek positive role models and media representation
Positive role models help to inspire and give hope to young people. There are many high-profile people who identity as gender diverse but positive representation also includes ordinary gender diverse people living ‘normal’ lives, complete with romantic relationships, children and successful careers.
Having role models and media portrayals to look up to, especially someone who’s older than me, gives me hope for my future.” (Nonbinary, 18)
During your child’s transition, there will be challenging conversations and decisions to make. It can be overwhelming at times. Reaching out for support for your child and for yourself can be helpful as your family adjusts.
Welcome their friends
Include your child’s friends in family events or support your child to spend time with them.
My social support network is really important for my mental health – they make me feel safe, loved, valuable as a person, all the things that help me to want to be alive and feel like I deserve to be happy.” (Genderfluid young person, 21)
If your child is old enough to date, you may also find Transcend Australia’s Healthy Relationships Resource helpful to read together. This guide was written to help gender diverse young people learn the tools and skills to navigate relationships and intimacy. Safe & Strong: The LGBTQ+ guide to Facebook and Instagram has been developed by a group of LGBTQA+ organisations to help young people learn how to keep their social media profiles safe, positive and protected.
Connect with peer support
Getting to know parents who are experiencing a similar journey to yours can be one of the most helpful and supportive things to do. Linking in with peer support groups through in-person contact, online forums and events offers multiple benefits. You’ll access information and find space to process emotions safely away from your child. Discovering positive stories of other families further ahead in their journeys can help reframe your perspective. And celebrating milestones together, along with supporting each other through tough times, can build lifelong bonds.
It helps when you keep in touch online with others going through all this. They can share tips with you on how to get things done. Also, when you are hitting barriers and having a horrendous day, they will listen because they understand.” (Mother of male, 19)
We found a face-to-face group. Just seeing people that were further along in the journey than us, that there were steps that people had taken before us so it wouldn’t be new the whole way through was a turning point for me. It’s the first time I felt like somebody understood and I felt supported. That was huge.” (Mother of male, 13)
Visit your GP
You may want to have a chat with your GP to discuss any new care needs for your child. We’ve put together some useful questions in Helpful Wording: Questions to ask your child’s mental health professional to help get the conversation started. It’s possible that your doctor has not treated a gender diverse person before and you may find it reassuring to pass on the Australian Standards of Care Guidelines for trans and gender diverse children and adolescents prior to your appointment.
If relevant, you can ask your doctor about referral pathways and what gender-affirming care options exist. If you feel your GP lacks a good understanding, you might want to contact peer support organisations to find out a list of experienced practitioners. Click here for a list of supportive organisations. Even if you feel that gender-affirming care is not relevant for your child right now you may still want to consider a referral. Services tend to have long waitlists and you can always decline the appointment if it is not needed.
Should you wish to change your child’s sex marker on their birth certificate, you can ask your GP or gender-affirming care provider to complete a supporting statement of your child’s gender identity if needed for your application. Click here for state-by-state regulations.
Consider medical options
Many gender diverse people feel no need to seek medical interventions as part of their transition. Some young people can experience gender dysphoria however and they may be interested in learning more about gender-affirming medical care.
Discussing medical interventions with your child is driven by the child’s experience of their gender identity or dysphoria. Each situation is different and should be guided by the child’s feelings as well as relevant professional advice. We always recommend talking to children in an age-appropriate way, and to seek professional assessment in every instance.
Discuss name change on personal documentation
Your child may want to change their name on personal documentation. Usually, their birth certificate will need to be updated first, after which you can apply to change their name on other paperwork including official documents at school. Click here for more information and state-by-state regulations.