Advice and takeaways from a therapist who works with Transgender and Nonbinary children for parents, teachers, and anyone else working with our youth.
With the assault on Transgender children and their families, it has become essential that we be firm in our support of youth voices. Here are five ways to support the Transgender youth in your lives that are simple and can be used right away: Listen, empathize, trust, learn, and uplift.
Listening to children is the best way to support them. For Queer, Trans, and Nonbinary children and youth the act of listening to the words they are sharing with you is a powerful thing. When we listen, we validate and we can learn what is going on.
Children have a lot to speak about and it is wonderful when we honor Queer youth.
Queer and Transgender youth need us to empathize with them and not push them away. So, remember that we too were once that age. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have someone to see that we are worthy human beings capable of knowing who we were when we were that age?
Transgender children need empathy, which is a powerful tool we can so easily give.
Trust that children know who they are. When a Transgender or Nonbinary youth tells you who they are, believe them. When trust is established by a supportive person Transgender children can thrive and feel that they are important.
To be a trustworthy supportive person requires little effort beyond authenticity and being present for a Transgender child.
Educate yourself on pronouns, new ways to express oneself, and what interests Transgender youth. As we move into a more inclusive LGBTQ community, we change, grow, and adapt. With increased visibility brings increased insight, knowledge, and new ideas.
If you don’t fully know what a Transgender/Nonbinary youth is saying about their identity, get curious and ask with an open heart. You may learn a lot from them.
When we become older, we can act as role models and mentors for younger generations. We can easily forget that since we missed out on a generation of elders lost to the AIDS epidemic. Advocating, lifting youth voices, and standing with youth is important.
The role of an ally is never to stand in front of others, but next to them so we can increase their voice.
Here we have it. Five simple ways to be helpful allies. That is what we are saying when we support others whose voices are marginalized. We become allies with them and want to help. We are in challenging times right now with the assault on transgender youth surging in the nation, including threats to gender-affirming medicine in our nearby state. In my time working with transgender children, I have come to know how simple these five things can be to change their lives.
Listen, empathize, trust, stay curious, and uplift – these are our best tools for mental and emotional well-being.
Grant Pike is an out nonbinary therapist who specializes in working with Trans and Nonbinary youth and has spent over 20 years advocating and advancing LGBTQIAA2+ lives. They hold an MSW and a LICSW. This is part of a new ongoing series discussing how to better support Trans youth and the parents and adults working with our youth.