• What If Your Teen is Transgender? | Paria Hassouri | Episode 183

  • transgender teensWe love our kids. We want them to be happy. We want to have a good relationship with them and oftentimes we believe we do. But what do we do if we find out we didn’t know them as well as we thought? What if we discover our teen is transgender—the daughter we thought we had is really a son, or the son is a daughter? This is what Paria Hassouri experienced when she discovered she had a transgender daughter. Paria is a pediatrician, a mother of 3, an activist, and the author of Found in Transition: A Mother’s Evolution During Her Child’s Gender Change. She’s joining us today to share her journey and to help us understand better how to handle it if we find ourselves in her shoes, as well as how we can support transgender kids and their families.



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    A Favorite Quote from the Show: 

    What does this child in front of me need today?

    High Points From Our Conversation on If Your Teen is Transgender:

    Quote about transgender teensParia’s daughter Ava came out at thirteen and a half. Paria had no idea that Ava might be transgender.

    While Paria didn’t get any indications regarding Ava’s gender change, Ava was very closed off and in her room a lot. Paria didn’t know what was wrong: “I felt like I was always waiting for the next phone call from school.”

    Since Ava came out and was allowed to be her authentic self, she’s happier and more open.

    Gender and sex are not the same thing; they’re two different concepts. A person’s sex is biologically defined; a person’s gender is their internal sense of self—who they see themselves as, be that male, female, both, neither…

    Gender and sex don’t always match up.

    Cisgender people are people whose gender identity matches their original sex—that is, the biological body they were born with. Transgender people are people whose gender identity is different from their original sex.

    If your child is transgender, they need family support:

      • Accept them when they tell you
      • Provide them with what they need
      • Stand up to people—family, friends, etc.—who don’t support them or condemn them
      • Advocate in their school and community

    Some parental advice:

      • You may have a hard time believing your child when they tell you; popular media tells us we (and they) should see signs when they’re young—actually about 50% or more of transgender people don’t come to a realization until their teens, 20s or later
      • Surround yourself with support—join a support group, physically or online
      • Realizing your child is transgender can make you question your own identity—but it’s not about you and your identity, it’s about your child
      • You might be afraid for your child’s future as a transgender person (and that fear is not unfounded), and you don’t want that to limit their opportunities in life. You need to push through the fear and show optimism for them

    Changing your mindset and viewpoints of your child to a different gender can be difficult. Start small, start with pronouns. If at first you can’t manage to switch entirely, then start with gender-neutral pronouns (they, them, theirs).

    Once your child has come out to you as transgender, do your absolute best to never use their old pronouns (or name, if they decide to change it); that’s disregarding, insulting and is damaging to your child.

    If you’re struggling, try not to get too caught up in the big picture concerns. Ask yourself, what does this child need from me today?

    A few final things to remember:

      • Be an optimist
      • Your child needs their home to be a loving, open, optimistic space
      • There’s not just one way for gender identity to emerge (just as transitions from son to daughter or daughter to son are not the only transitions possible)
      • Base your parenting on love instead of fear
      • Don’t underestimate your ability to change with your child


    Found in Transition: A Mother’s Evolution During Her Child’s Gender Change by Paria Hassouri

    TED Talk – The Way We Think About Biological Sex is Wrong

    TED Talk – The Biology of Gender from DNA to the Brain

    A Parenting Conversation About Coming Out | John Sovec | Episode 171

    Unpacking Shame | Sara Shapouri and JoAnna Hardy of iBme | Episode 177 

    Our Guest Paria Hassouri:

    Paria Hassouri discusses transgender teensParia Hassouri, MD, is the author of Found in Transition: A Mother’s Evolution During Her Child’s Gender Change. A pediatrician, mother of three, and transgender rights activist, her essays have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, and Women’s Running Magazine. She lives in Los Angeles. 

    To learn more or connect with our guest visit http://www.PariaHassouri.com 

    Our Sponsor:

    iBme — Mindfulness courses and retreats for teens and adults iBme offers online and in-person retreats, mindfulness courses, and weekly meditations tailored for various communities of teens and young adults. Visit iBme.com to learn more and register for programs including in-person and online summer retreats.

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