In Consultation

In Consultation

Gender-Affirmative Therapy for Kids: What Parents Need to Know

By Margaret Nichols

May/June 2021

Q: My client is skeptical about her 15-year-old daughter’s recent coming out as transgender. She’s asking me if it could be rapid onset gender dysphoria (ROGD). How can I advise this parent?

A: Without meaning to, most parents have an image in their minds of what they think their children’s future lives will be like, and when the child reveals something about themselves that shatters that fantasy, it can be scary. I’m a clinical psychologist who’s worked with transgender clients since the 1980s, and I’ve specialized in work with transgender, gender-nonconforming, and nonbinary teens for nearly 15 years. I’ve given a TED talk on this work, and I’m certified as a global provider and mentor by the World Professional Organization for Transgender Health. I’m also a parent, and I’m deeply sympathetic to parents trying to figure out how to respond to a young child who comes out as transgender.

Some parents of transgender children and teens are aware of their child’s gender diversity early on. The daughter who rejects anything remotely girly, for example, or the son who embraces feminine things, exhibit certain gender expressions that often lead parents to think they’re raising a gay child. Sometimes they’re correct, but sometimes it emerges that beyond gender expression, the…

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