Children with a Transgender Parent – This page has multi-media links
The Family – Coping with a Cross dressing parent
Telling your Children
“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.” (Carl Jung)
During our individual exploration of transgender issues we must decide how much of a public face we wish to reveal to others. Additionally we must decide which values we wish to incorporate into our private lives and ultimately extend to children. Agreed, every parent wishes to provide their child with safety, nurturance, education and the opportunity to build self and social acceptance skills.
What harm is there then in depriving our children of half their father? What would the consequences be if the children found out?
Do you share this with them, or do you trust to luck? The odds of hiding it are not good. If your child does find out, it would almost certainly be in an atmosphere of guilt and shame. What emotional trauma would they sustain? Above all this would hang the issue of trust that binds a family together. How will you deal with the pain they will have, ‘Why couldn’t you trust us with this?’ The last question decides the issue as once inclined to openness, you may want to be honest with your children.
Before disclosing any relationship of importance, establish the facts, understand how being transgendered affects your life and theirs. Talk with your counsellor regarding disclosure options. In some cases not disclosing or limited disclosure may be best. One necessity for those who are unable to disclose, is dealing with the internalised (or emotional baggage) feelings surrounding having to keep something hidden from family members, this is another subject that would be appropriate to bring into discussion with your mental health practitioner.
If you choose to ‘come out’ ensure you feel revealing this will be at a time that will increase the quality of your familial relationships.
To avoid people jumping to conclusions you may have to explain your actions.
Being able to speak effectively about gender issues is important. Defining the distinction between sexual and gender identity is a frequently misunderstood process, as well these definitions are commonly misrepresented socially through essentialism (stereotypes). However, explaining the distinction does not have to be difficult.
Young children in particular may have some difficulty grasping gender and sexual concepts, thus disclosing information slowly and at a speed they can understand is best – remember you have had a lifetime to get used to this and you are still struggling with it whereas they have only had 5 minutes!!!
If your child asks you questions about ‘why are you wearing…’ it maybe worth creating a story for them to help them understand.
“Well daddy likes to dress like this because daddy is like the prince in your storybook. Look! He wears tights too, and wears high buckled shoes and a wig…”
Not all older children are going to be immediately accepting of your cross dressing. Don’t force your child to listen. They may talk about the issue in time. Ensure you make it clear this is not their fault and you still love them the same as always!
Be as honest as possible with older children, lying to them will isolate them and make them ashamed. They are likely to get misinformation outside the family setting or unit, the best person to explain this to them is you! Not their friends or the television!
You must also be aware that your children have the right to disagree with what you do. You should respect their views. For example a son may say:
“I don’t care what you do as long as you don’t do it in front of me, OK!!!!!!”
Another important issue is to ensure that your child understands that just because you are a crossdresser, does not mean they will become one too!
Separated parents should avoid using the child – as is commonplace with divorced parents – as a go-between, “daddy says you!” “Mummy says that you!” This does little good for the child other than the child being forced to act out and internalize the adults scripts (baggage) leading to the child feeling overloaded and distressed. For information about dealing projection/ baggage click here.
To Sum Up…
To express feelings
To be involved
Opportunities to reflect and remember the transgender parent as they were before the transition – which can be a painful process for the partner.
There is more on the effects and how to cope especially for the partners wives and Significant Others here…
Citation: Courtesy of the Beaumont Society from their video ‘Beaumont on the Box’