Being a boy or a girl, for most children, is something that feels very natural. At birth, babies are assigned male or female based on physical characteristics. When children are able to express themselves, they will declare themselves to be a boy or a girl (or sometimes something in between); this is their "gender identity." Most children's gender identity aligns with their biological sex. However, for some children, the match between biological sex and gender identity is not so clear.
Symptoms Of Identity Development
- When your child discloses his or her identity to you, respond in an affirming, supportive way. Understand that although gender identity and sexuality are not able to be changed, the way people identify their sexual orientation or gender identity may change over time as they discover more about themselves.
- Accept and love your child as they are. They will need your support and validation to develop into healthy teens and adults.
- Stand up for your child when he or she is mistreated. Do not minimize the social pressure or bullying your child may be facing. See How You Can Help Your Child Avoid & Address Bullying.
- Make it clear that slurs or jokes based on gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation are not tolerated. Express your disapproval of these types of jokes or slurs when you encounter them in the community or media.
- Connect your child with LGBTQ organizations, resources, and events. It is important for them to know they are not alone.
- Support your child's self-expression through choices of clothing, jewelry, hairstyle, friends, and room decoration.
"You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do"
- Eleanor Roosevelt
Helpful Links For Identity Development
- HealthyChildren.org - Specializes in the health of children and includes gender non-conforming & transgender children
- The Family Acceptance Project™ - A research, intervention, education and policy initiative that works to prevent health and mental health risks for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) children and youth
- PFLAG.org - PFLAG is a branch of LGBT that provides support, information, tools, and resources to parents.
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