How to be a great parent or friend to trans kids

What can parents and friends of trans people do to help them beat the dismal mental health and suicide statistics? A lot, says Elijah Nealy.

Suicide, substance abuse, mental illness, and harassment affect LGBTQ kids at highly disproportional rates—but there is a single mediating factor that can lower those risks dramatically: family acceptance. LGBTQ teens who experience rejection at home are 8.4 times more likely to have attempted suicide by their early twenties. As the visibility of trans people increases, raising and supporting trans kids is emerging as critical. How can we help them beat the dismal stats? Elijah Nealy shares a few best practices for parents and friends, from understanding gender fluidity and questioning gender norms to respecting pronouns and recognizing that being trans isn't necessarily about body parts—it's about what's going on in someone's mind. These tips may help save a life, and better yet, it can help a trans kid become a confident, healthy, and loved young adult. Elijah Nealy is the author of Transgender Children and Youth: Cultivating Pride and Joy with Families in Transition.

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The Sexual Predator Myth: Once Visited on Gay Men, It Now Hurts Trans Women

There's a hidden hypocrisy within bathroom laws based on biological sex.

Your gender is your sense of self — it is located very much above the waist. Legislation that compels transgender people to use bathrooms that align with their biological sex, rather than their gender identity, are not really championing public safety. In fact, there is a hidden hypocrisy in those laws that makes the most vulnerable among us markedly less safe. According to Dr. Elijah Nealy, there is a dangerous myth that perpetuates the trans bathroom debate: that trans women are sexual predators (the data does not support this claim, and we heard the same story 25 years ago about gay men). This myth implies that transgender women have ulterior motives when using the restroom, when in reality, like every other human being, they go there to relieve a simple biological need. Insisting that bathroom laws are anchored to biological sex places trans men and women in difficult positions. States with these laws in place would have Dr. Nealy, an openly trans man, use the women's room. It also puts trans women in a very dangerous spotlight by forcing them to enter and use the men's room. Perpetuating false myths and supporting discriminatory laws only serves to invalidate the existence of an already marginalized community who are—whether others like it or not—very real. Elijah Nealy is the author of Transgender Children and Youth: Cultivating Pride and Joy with Families in Transition.

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