It’s really hard being a parent, in an age where everything is digital, a parent can hardly know what a teen is doing outside the house, let alone online. That also means that they will be exposed to a lot of themes and topics or issues that maybe they are not ready for, or ideas and questions that come up which could confuse or scare them. It’s so important to talk about so many things now with your teen, before they find out a much cruder way, and sexuality and sexual identity is one of those huge conversations that need to be had now, so teens feel comfortable with the topic, and don’t judge themselves too harshly. So even if your teen does not straight out ask: What is transgender and what does transgender mean, you’ll still have to prepare them for the images they see on the screen or real people they encounter in life.
That’s what every parent would love to know, the ‘How to…’ for every case that comes up when trying to communicate with a teenager. Unfortunately, one of the hardest stages of child rearing does not come with a handbook or manual, so don’t expect anyone to really know how to breach the topic, except you. You know your child better than anyone, and you’ll know when to start a conversation that they are comfortable with. For instance, you are hanging out at home, and watching something on TV when a transvestite or transgender celebrities appear on screen. They are not usually presented by the media or entertainment in the best of lights, but definitely the characters and images are there. It’s a good starting point to discuss what your teen thinks about that characterization, and how that fits in with their overall perception of sexuality in general.
Step by Step
A better conversation to have before the transgender one, is of course the sexuality one. And then, after that, talking about homosexuality is another good advancement. Once you’ve identified all the possible types of sexual identities your teen might come across in everyday life, and you can see that they are at ease with the topic, then you can take it one step further and examine how certain people don’t feel internally aligned with the sex assigned to them at birth. And that they spend a lot of time struggling with their identity growing up, to identify themselves in the larger world. That is a general theme every teen can relate to, since getting closer to adulthood can be a scary process and most teens understand that fitting in and finding one’s place is not an easy thing to do, let alone with you are at the margins of society.
By creating compassion and understanding within the dialogue means that your teen will be able to have quite a grown up conversation about sexuality without feeling threatened or guilty or confused. If you can build that base between you and your teen, then you can talk about anything, not just about ‘what is transgender’. So, don’t wait and start building that communication today.