Resources for Parents of Trans Kids, Youth & Young Adults

Finding out your child is transgender, non-binary or questioning their gender can come as a shock – initial feelings of confusion, fears about their future, sadness or doubts in their ability to really understand their gender at their age are all common responses I hear from parents.  I invite you to check out these useful resources for parents/ caregivers of trans / non-binary / gender independent kids, youth and young adults to help you find your footing and gain the knowledge you need to best support your child moving forward.

Research shows that trans youth who feel they have low or moderate levels of parental support are at risk for a range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts (TransPULSE, 2012; Ryan et. al, 2010). A majority of parents I work with want to be supportive, but have strong fears about their child’s future that get in the way of their child experiencing them that way. It’s common to make the mistake of talking about your feelings and fears with your child, rather than turning to a knowledgeable adult to work through them first.  In working with parents, my job is to help you sift through feelings, fears, worries, and (mis)information, and gain knowledge (about gender, medical, social and legal transition options, etc.) and skills to support your kids though this stage and beyond.  This can help keep both you and your child emotionally healthy, and avoid long-term damage to your relationship.

I also specialize in family therapy with trans, non-binary and gender questioning youth/young adults and their parents. The goal of this work is to strengthen and repair relationships and improve mental health at a time when young people most need gender affirming and supportive adults around them. Strong emotions are common when first learning your child is transgender or non-binary, which can sometimes lead to saying things to your child in the heat of the moment that you wouldn’t say if you were more grounded.  Whether you realize it or not, these words can live on as wounds in your child’s heart, mind and in your relationship for years to come, if they aren’t repaired intentionally.  In order to work effectively with families, I initially work separately with parents and youth, and eventually come together for a few structured family sessions. I’m one of very few clinicians in Canada with advanced training in Attachment-Based Family Therapy – an evidence-based modality for treating adolescent depression and suicidality – and I have worked for 7 years with the developers of this model to adapt it to working with trans youth and their parents.

Many cisgender (non-transgender) parents don’t feel they have the knowledge or skills to be the ones their trans child turns to when they have questions about gender, but I believe (and this is backed by decades of research on attachment and children’s mental heath), that kids need their parents to be their “safe base” about all the overwhelming/big things in their lives. In order to accomplish this, parents often need a knowledgeable adult – one who understands gender, transition-related issues, trans positive resources for kids and families in Toronto, advocacy for gender independent kids in the school system, attachment/neurobiology, children’s mental health, child development, and parenting –  to turn to. I have supported hundreds of parents to gain the skills necessary to raising thriving trans kids and youth, and to have closer relationships with their trans / non-binary adult children and I’d be pleased to learn how I might lend my support to your family.

**If desired, I am also happy to refer you or your youth to qualified trans / non-binary therapists in Toronto, trans social / drop-in programs and trans-positive GPs.**

I would be honoured to support you and/or your family through life’s challenges and transitions. Please do not hesitate to contact me for a free telephone consultation to discuss how I can be of support to you.

UPDATE – June 2020:  My practice is full and my waitlist is currently closed. I may open a few waitlist/cancellation spots in late August/early fall, but I don’t expect to have regular weekly or bi-weekly spots available until later in the fall. Feel free to check back here for more information in late August.

(647) 492-3960

lindsayelinMSW@gmail.com

Footnotes:

1. Impacts of strong parental support for trans youth: A report prepared for the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto and Delisle Youth Services” (2012), TransPULSE.http://transpulseproject.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Impacts-of-Strong-Parental-Support-for-Trans-Youth-vFINAL.pdf

Other TransPULSE (2012) reports and materials available at www.transpulseproject.ca

2. Ryan, C., Russell, S. T., Huebner, D., Diaz, R., and Sanchez, J. (2010). Family acceptance in adolescence and the health of LGBT young adults. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 23(4), 205-213.

USEFUL RESOURCES FOR PARENTS/CAREGIVERS OF TRANS YOUTH/ YOUNG ADULTS

1.  Ygender Trans 101 Gender Diversity Crash Course

2. Gender Spectrum

3. “Communication matters: Strengthening and protecting your relationship with your trans youth when emotions run high”, Lindsay Elin, MSW, RSW, 2017: lindsayelinpsychotherapy.com

Emotion regulation Communication matters handout Elin 2017

4. The Families in TRANSition guide, 2nd Edition, Central Toronto Youth Services, 2016: https://ctys.org/wp-content/uploads/CTYS-FIT-Families-in-Transition-Guide-2nd-edition.pdf

5. Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Helping Families with LGBT children, San Francisco State University, 2009:  http://familyproject.sfsu.edu/sites/sites7.sfsu.edu.familyproject/files/FAP_English%20Booklet_pst.pdf
*Also available in Spanish and Chinese, here: http://familyproject.sfsu.edu/publications

6.  Families in TRANSition (FIT) Group – a 10-week, closed group for parents/caregivers of trans youth (age 13 – 21) at Central Toronto Youth Services  https://ctys.org/program/groups/families-in-transition-fit/

7. Gender Independent Groups (GIG and GIG2) at the TDSB – for parents/guardians of children and youth (Kindergarten – grade 12) who express gender independence to meet and discuss their experiences of navigating the gendered world in which we live. http://gendercreativekids.ca/providers/gender-independent-groups-toronto

8. Transceptance – a monthly parent-led group for parents of trans youth and young adults (any age), hosted at Central Toronto Youth Services. Email transceptance@gmail.com for more information.  https://ctys.org/program/groups/transceptance/

9. Pride & Prejudice (LGBTQ2S) Family Support at Central Toronto Youth Services – free services for LGBTQ2S youth (age 13-18) and their parents/caregivers, including individual counselling, group work, parent counselling & education and family therapy. https://ctys.org/program/pride-prejudice/

I would be honoured to support you and/or your family through life’s challenges and transitions. Please do not hesitate to contact me for a free telephone consultation to discuss how I can be of support to you.

647-204-2047

lindsayelinMSW@gmail.com