Supporting families of transgender children/youth: Parents speak on their experiences, identity, and views.

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    • Abstract:
      Background: Transgender children/youth demonstrate the best possibility for resilience and positive mental health when they are part of an affirming and supportive family. To optimize families in supporting transgender children/youth, parents/caregivers need to be supported. Transgender children/youth and their families regularly navigate a myriad of challenges through society. Aims: Within the extant literature on transgender children and youth, relatively little attention is focused on the experiences of parents/caregivers and how their close family relationships are affected. The present qualitative study addresses this gap in knowledge through its exploration of the experiences, identities, and views of parents/caregivers of transgender children/youth. Method: The study is longitudinal and this article represents the first wave. Fourteen parents of 12 transgender children/youth, aged 6-17, participated in in-depth semistructured interviews. Participants were recruited via social media and at an on-site conference for transgender youth and their families. All children/youth had socially transitioned. Those who were eligible for puberty suppression and/or hormone therapy were receiving those. The interviews were inductively coded for themes by two coders using the constant comparative method. Results: Participants' reports on their experiences yielded three themes: (1) transgender issues as the family's focus; (2) proactivity, child-focused: preemptive actions to prevent adverse consequences; and (3) self-care. These themes included subthemes on effective coping strategies to mitigate struggles. Three themes related to participants' identity and views emerged: (1) identity reformation, (2) self-evaluation, and (3) views of future. These themes included subthemes that reflected how participants viewed themselves, their child, and the future. Discussion: A transgender identity in one family member affects all household members. Parents/guardians may experience guilt and self-doubt over decisions. Factors that may improve outcomes with extended family and schools include families' preemptive dissemination of information on transgender identities and explicating expectations of respect and nonintrusion. Ingrained traditions may force life-altering decisions. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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