In January of 2016 I received news I never expected: I had a trans child. After months of knowing that something wasn’t right for my then-15-year-old, we finally had words to give structure and explanation to what was going on. Unfortunately – like so many parents out there faced with the same news – I knew very, very little about what it meant to be transgender, what my child needed from me in the weeks and months to come, what our options were, or what this would mean for our family.
What I have learned has come slowly, and a lot of it has come from my incredibly well-read child (now an 18-year-old away at University). Together with them, I am working on curating the following list of resources to help parents and families who are new to this path. My child and I have a particular fondness for those who are approaching this from a religious perspective, and have been particularly interested in curating good resources for those from a Christian and Jewish perspective. If you have trans-positive resources for those from other faith backgrounds that you can recommend, I would love to hear from you – please send me the resource, a brief synopsis, and why you think we should include it.
I think that the best way to navigate this experience is with a good support structure around you, and I am always happy to provide coaching to parents who are trying to understand how to best respond to their child, whatever age they are, and whatever stage in the process they are at. That being said, finding a source for links was always a win for my journey as a parent, and so I give you my list-in-progress!
Resources – General Books and Guides
Children’s Book Resources for Diversity and Inclusion: my eldest and I have been working on creating a list of books for children and youth on the subject of diversity and inclusion in general – including issues of disability, ethnicity, religion and LGBTQ+. This Google sheets list is searchable by author, title, category or age, and includes web links to help you find the resources for purchase online. Please feel free to contact us if you would like to recommend any other resources for this list.
Families in TRANSition: A Resource Guide for Parents of Trans Youth: provides the stories of parents and youth along with practical and sensitive parent-to-parent and professional therapeutic advice.
Gender Born, Gender Made: Raising Healthy Gender-Nonconforming Children: a book written by Dr. Diane Ehrensaft who has worked with gender-nonconforming children for over 30 years. She covers both the philosophical dilemmas and the practical, daily concerns of working with children who don’t fit a ‘typical’ gender mold.
Trans and Gender Diverse Children: Beyond the Myths (a presentation): the slides from a presentation responding to some of the myths and assumptions people make about being transgender and gender diverse.
Resources – Understanding Gender
AAP Policy Statement Urges Support and Care of Transgender and Gender-Diverse Children and Adolescents: the 2018 statement by the American Academy of Paediatricians that has come out in support of a ‘gender-affirming’ model of care for transgender and gender-diverse children and adolescents.
Beyond XX and XY: The Extraordinary Complexity of Sex Determination: a brief article and incredibly detailed graphic in Scientific American showing the incredible range of variation that can occur in terms of human sex determination at the five key points of development.
Unfolding Miracles: Human Sexuality: a Christian paediatrician goes through in detail and step-by-step explains the process of how we end up with our gender identity – and why it is both beautiful and incredibly complex.
When Does She Become He?: a transgender Christian woman approaches the question of the layers of complexity involved in gender in a less academic, more conversational style.
Why Sex is Not Binary: an opinion piece in the New York Times by a professor of biology and gender studies on the complex layering that goes into allowing us to understand our gender identity.
Resources – First Person Parenting Accounts
Nail Polish Boys & Trucker Girls: Gender Exploration in Children: a look at young children’s experiences of gender exploration and best suggestions for how to respond to that if you are seeing similar exploration in your own child.
Raising Our Gender Nonconforming Child – A Q&A: an interview with a parent of a gender nonconforming child, allowing a little window into one family’s experiences of raising a gender nonconforming child.
Parenting a Transgender Child: a first-person account of one family’s experience of their child transitioning before puberty, and the importance of support for children dealing with gender dysphoria.
There’s No Right Way to be Trans: a discussion of the often-cited ‘insistent, consistent, persistent’ rule of determining of a child is trans.
Resources – Religious
An Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Comes Out for LGBTQ People: an article in Jewish Boston on LGBTQ ally Rabbi Moskowitz and his work.
Balancing on the Mechitza: a series of essays by activists, theologians, scholars, and other transgender Jews on the subject of being transgender and Jewish.
Come to the Bimah and Read from the Torah! But First, What is Your Preferred Gender Pronoun?: a discussion of how to incorporate gender non-binary pronouns into Jewish worship spaces.
Gender and Sexual Identity: a resource of prayers for Jews around issues of gender and sexual identity.
#GCNConf 2015 – Danny Cortez: How this Southern Baptist Pastor changed his view on homosexuality: the keynote address at the Gay Christian Network conference from 2015
Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians: a book by Austen Hartke, a transgender Christian and theologian. Austin also makes videos on the intersection between gender and faith, which can be found here.
What the Torah Teaches Us About Gender Fluidity and Transgender Justice: a post adapted from Rabbi Meyer’s Rosh HaShanah 5779 morning sermon.
Resources – Support Organizations
Generous Space Canada: a national Christian organization committed working together to eliminate fear, division, and hostility at the intersection of faith, gender, and sexuality. They creating welcoming spaces for those questioning and living on the LGBT spectrum. Private groups are also available for parents.
PFLAG Canada: a national organization that supports Parents, Friends and Family of LGBT individuals. There are local chapters across the country.
Resources – Videos
‘I’m the Scary Transgender Person the Media Warned You About’ – My Trans Life: a video about the Bruesehoff family and their trans daughter Rebekah. As a pastor’s family, they offer a unique take on this experience. Another video of Rebekah appear here, speaking at the ELCA Youth Gathering in 2018.
TedTalk: Norman Spack – How I Help Transgender Teens Become Who They Want to Be: Norman Spack tells the story of how he – a paediatric endocrinologist – became convinced of the importance of supporting transgender teens, and what difference it has made.
The You Inside Project – ebook and film: a simple 3:37 animated film telling the story of what it feels like to grow up trans, and finally come to an awareness and integration of your identity.