Understanding transition: You'll want to protect them
The passage below is excerpted from Holding on to Hope: Help for friends and family of transgender people.
The desire to protect our loved ones is a natural part of the human experience. The urge is particularly strong for parents and guardians. Remember the first time you left an infant in the care of a babysitter, taught a child to ride a bike, watched them enter the classroom on the first day of kindergarten, or drove them to their first sleepover? It doesn’t get easier as the years pass, when teenagers get a driver’s license, leave for college, then turn 21 and start hanging out in bars. Each situation feels fraught with danger, escalating in risk from scraped knees to car accidents with friends who text and drive.
Living is risky business, and the potential dangers that keep you awake at night worrying are real. A loved one announcing they’re transgender triggers a new wave of fears which are just as valid.
But love doesn’t mean wrapping someone up tight and locking them away for the sake of safety. Love means helping them be as prepared as possible for the dangers presented at each stage of life.
Navigating through the risks builds confidence and maturity and promotes the development of new skills. It permits the individual to experience the victory and joy of growth. Preventing them from stretching their wings leads to frustration, stagnation, resentment, and worse.
In order to manage your fear, try to shift your thinking to how best to prepare them. Identify the things which scare you, and develop plans for how to handle them. The Tangible Helpfulness section of this book offers tips about ways to be prepared.
Facing the reality of a child or other loved one entering territory which feels perilous is hard. Yes, they are precious, but it’s their life and they deserve the chance to live it.
Please remember, especially in these times of group-think and the right-on chorus, that no person is your friend (or kin) who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow and be perceived as fully blossomed as you were intended.
Suzanne DeWitt Hall is the author of the Where True Love Is devotional series, the Living in Hope series of books supporting the loved ones of transgender people, The Language of Bodies (Woodhall Press, 2022), and the Rumplepimple adventures.