Supporting Transgender Children: Twelve Things You Should Know

HRC has partnered with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians to release Supporting and Caring for Transgender Children. The new publication explains what it means for a child to be transgender and how to help and show support. Here are twelve things you need to know:
  1. 1.
    Most boys who prefer stereotypical “girl things,” and girls who prefer stereotypical “boy things,” are not transgender. They just do things a little differently!
  2. 2.
    Being transgender means that a child or adult identifies as a different gender than they were assigned when they were born. For instance, a child raised as a girl might assert that he is a boy and ask others to treat him like other boys.
  3. 3.
    Some transgender children identify themselves as boys or girls. Others consider themselves “some of each,” or a different gender entirely. One common term for being neither a boy nor a girl is “non-binary.”
  4. 4.
    Some transgender children are sure of their gender identity from an early age, and some take years to figure things out. Either way is healthy, as long as the child can freely and safely express their identity.
  5. 5.
    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pediatricians, therapists and parents support and affirm each child’s gender identity and expression.
  6. 6.
    Transgender kids whose families support them are as psychologically healthy as their non-transgender peers.
  7. 7.
    Children who live as a gender they don’t identify with may experience distress, which mental health experts call “gender dysphoria.” For some children, gender dysphoria causes major problems at home and school. It can even cause children to feel suicidal or harm themselves.
  8. 8.
    For most children with gender dysphoria, simply having others recognize and affirm their gender identity makes a huge difference for their mental health.
  9. 9.
    Experts recognize that gender identity can’t be changed by any treatment, and that trying to change someone’s gender identity may cause serious harm.
  10. 10.
    Parents and caregivers of transgender children sometimes feel lonely or stigmatized. Words of support from friends and family can help a great deal.
  11. 11.
    Children initially considered boys who identify as girls are called transgender girls. Children initially considered girls who identify as boys are called transgender boys. “Non-binary” is one term for children who don’t identify as either boys or girls.
  12. 12.
    More than 40 clinics across the United States offer medical care and support for transgender children and their families.