I Think My Child is LGBT+?
This is a question that many parents think about, how would you accept and be there for your child as a teenager or older? This question is forgotten about during the busy childhood years and hope that they have formed a strong, healthy, loving relationship with their child that makes it easy for them to ask for advice about anything that may be troubling them. Some parents may have had an inkling that their child may be LGBT+, for others this comes out of the blue. Many parents do not know how to begin a conversation with their child if they suspect they may be LGBT+. Just being there for your child and waiting for them to say that they are LGBT+ is sometimes better than asking directly, however, every child is different, only you know the uniqueness of your child. If you feel intuitively that your child would benefit from an open conversation then that may be the best approach for your family.
What Do I Do?
Recommended LGBT+ Children’s Books
- Mel Elliot, ‘The Girl with Two Dads’, Egmont, 2019 (PBK) ISBN 9781405292436
- Davina Bell illustrated by Allison Colpoys, ‘Under the Love Umbrella’, Scribe, 2018 (PBK) ISBN 9781925228977
- Patricia Hegarty illustrated by Ryan Wheatcroft ‘We Are Family’, Caterpillar Books, 2018 (PBK) ISBN 9781848576438
Coming out to older children
For older children this may be difficult for them to come to terms with, that they have a different family unit to society norm. It is also difficult coming out of a heterosexual relationship whereby they only knew a family unit of a father and mother. Respect their privacy, allow them to process, and let them tell their friends in their own time. Indeed, they too are coming out with this new information. Children understand love what they don’t understand is deception, it is never too late to come out to your children if you haven’t when they were young. This is a lifetime discussion, give them time to process and be prepared to answer any questions they may have. Remind them that this in no way changes your relationship and the love that you share.
If any of these questions and challenges resonates with you, ScEEN in Kerry, recommends that you contact the following support groups.
Kerry & National LGBT+ Supports for you & your family
The National LGBT Helpline: provides a confidential, listening, support and information service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The service is also used by people who are questioning if they might be LGBT, as well as the family and friends of LGBT people and professionals looking for information. The service operates Monday to Thursday from 6.30pm to 10pm, Friday 4pm to 10pm, Saturday and Sunday from 4pm to 6pm. Visit www.lgbt.ie or Call: 1890 929 539
Family & Friends LGBT+ Group: members are parents, family and friends of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people. The aims of the group are to provide support and friendship for the parents, family and friends of LGBT people living in North Kerry, West Limerick and surrounding communities to understand, accept and support their lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender members with love and pride. Meetings take place every quarter in the year and more if required, especially if new members would like to attend. Please contact Bridie Mulvihill at 086 855 6431 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
LGBT+ KDYS Youth Group: is a group for under 18 to 24 year olds. Meetings are at 6pm to 7:30pm every Tuesday countywide. Their meetings focus on socialising, creativity, and freedom. For more info, call the KDYS centre on 087 057 6213 and ask for Gareth Harteveld
‘’I came out to my mom through a letter, I was nervous about how she would react, but she was like. . . ‘‘you know I’m going to love you no matter what (…) [Then] I came out to everyone at school, everyone was really nice about it.”
I think my child is Transgender?
Raising a transgender child isn’t something any parent is initially prepared for. Many parents are happy to find out the sex of their child when asked during their scan. Some get the news that they really wanted to hear and go home and paint the nursery blue or pink and go clothes and toy shopping. To an extent parents have been socialised to have a certain understanding about gender norms and identities and this ideology can lead to detrimental problems if your child is transgender or non-binary.
Many transgender people say they became aware of their gender identity between the ages of three and five but lacked the vocabulary to express how they felt. It’s normal for you to feel initially scared and worried for your child at this time but there are supports and advice available for you and your family to get through this challenging time. The number of young people seeking treatment for gender dysphoria is rising and due to social attitudes and an openness and acceptance socially, many difficulties of trans children are changing with the availability of medical transition supports and advocacy groups. Trans children can lead full, healthy happy lives with your support and love.
What do I do?
When your child discloses their gender identity to you, respond in an affirming, supportive way. Accept and love your child as they are. Children with gender dysphoria are distressed about their bodies and gender identities over a prolonged period which can result in serious psychological distress inducing self-harm. These children have to overcome many barriers, issues and fears. Their physical body does not align to how they feel inside. Therefore, it’s really important that as a parent you try to understand what they are feeling and experiencing. Even if there are disagreements, they will need your support and validation to develop into healthy teens and adults. Reach out for education, resources, and support if you feel the need to deepen your own understanding of transgender youth experiences.
Media portrayals of transgender people are often not positive, which seeps into how society views them as a whole. Celebrate diversity in all forms by providing access to a variety of movies, books and other materials that reflect a positive representation of gender diverse individuals. Stand up for your child when he or she is mistreated. Do not minimise the social pressure or bullying your child may face. Make it clear that slurs or jokes based on gender identity are not tolerated. Express your disapproval of these types of jokes or slurs when you encounter them in the community or media. Ask your child what pronouns they would like you to use or what name they wish to be called. Acknowledge your child’s authentic self and gender identity.
Coming out as Transgender to your children
Coming out as transgender at any stage of life is difficult. Trans people can keep this aspect to themselves under wraps for many years. Coming out to their children can be one of the scariest things to face. Transgender parents often worry about how the personal information they share with their children will impact on their general well-being. Understandably, a lot of children assume that if they know their father as, ‘dad’ and their mother as ‘mom’, these identities will remain fixed. However, young children can be very adaptable and new memories can be formed alongside the disclosure of your gender identity. Young children’s main primary concern is to be assured that their parents still love them unconditionally. With that said, there is no way to ensure your child won’t have any difficulties with this process, however, there are some things you may consider in order to make things easier for the whole family unit.
Their age is important, younger children have not been tainted as much by negative portrayals of transgender people in the media and as mentioned can adapt to the situation easier based on the support you provide. However, if your child is a teenager, they may push back with a little more confusion or anger—and might ask questions like, ‘Why are you doing this to me?’. Allow whatever emotions they are feeling to come to the surface, and try to avoid minimising the situation. Because this is usually new information for your child to process, it’s vital to allow them time to ask questions, be confused, get angry and approach you for support. Additionally, make sure there is an adult in your and your child’s life (other than you) that understands that they’ll likely need support. Then be certain that your child is comfortable with and has access to that person. Accepting the challenges ahead will help both you and your child adjust better. Expecting everything to feel OK or the same immediately is bound to exacerbate any discomfort for everyone involved. Being realistic, and acknowledging the importance of patience, is bound to make your child feel more seen and heard, hopefully harnessing an understanding and compassion for both of yourself and child’s situation.
Kerry & National Transgender Supports for you & your family
- TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland) provides a Gender Identity Family Support Line. Call 01 907 3707. Available Sundays, 6pm to 9pm and Tuesdays, 10am to 12pm.
- TRANS Kerry is a group that aims to provide community and supports for the trans and gender non-conforming communities in the South-West. This group is open to those aged 18+. Trans Kerry Support Group meet every second Friday every month at 6-9pm. Listowel Family Recourse Centre oversee this group in partnership with the HSE and TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland). Please contact Caroline Doyle at 086 787 2107. If you want to know more about the group. Check out: https://www.facebook.com/transkerrygroup/
- Transformers is a Trans Kerry Support Group that is a locally set up peer network for anyone from the trans community under the age of 18, that are living in Kerry. They meet every second Tuesday of every month. If interested please contact Kerry Adolescent Counselling Service (KACS) at 066 718 1333
- TransParenCI is a peer support group for parents and family members of young transgender people who attend transformers. Both groups run concurrently and are facilitated in separate spaces. For more info contact Kerry Adolescent Counselling Service (KASCS) at 066 718 1333
Assisted Human Reproduction for LGBT+ people:
We/I want a baby? – What do we/I do?
In the Republic of Ireland a growing number of men and women openly self-identify as gay or lesbian. Accompanying this newfound openness is an increased public acceptance of same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage. The combination of gay/lesbian self-determination and mounting public acceptance of same-sex unions has encouraged these individuals and couples to seek parenthood through assisted reproduction. Same-sex couples share the same motivations for parenthood as heterosexual couples but may face greater barriers to treatment. Achieving the goal of parenthood can be a much greater endeavor medically, financially and psychologically for same-sex couples.
Same Sex Female couple/Single Female
For women who are in a relationship with another woman there are various ways of experiencing motherhood as a couple and, assisted reproduction is one of the safest and most common options for the lesbian community. The most widespread techniques are Artificial Insemination with donor sperm (AID / IUI) and In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) with donor sperm, not only for lesbian couples but also for single LGBT+ women, in addition to IVF with Egg Donation and Sperm Donation and Embryo Adoption, a different option, which is less well-known is Reciprocal IVF, also known as Shared Motherhood or Inter-spousal Egg Donation. This is an IVF treatment where the partner who will carry the pregnancy uses embryos created with her partner’s eggs and sperm from a donor. This way both women participate actively in bringing their child into the world being, the first as the genetic mother and the second as the gestational mother.
Same Sex Male couple/Single Male
Surrogacy is a way for a gay couple or individual to have a child, with a surrogate mother carrying the child. The surrogate mother agrees to be artificially inseminated or to have an embryo transferred to her womb in order to become pregnant. She then carries the child to term with the intention of giving custody of the child to the person/couple (known as the commissioning person/couple) with whom she has made the agreement. Surrogacy arrangements can take place using artificial insemination (AI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques, but may also be carried out without any medical intervention. The surrogacy arrangement may be entered into in Ireland or abroad.
For more information check out this booklet on Donor Assisted Human Reproduction (DAHR) and the Law in Ireland: Click Here