The Epidemic Behind Gender Dysphoria
Imagine you are an insecure teenager and your body is rapidly going through changes. When you look in the mirror, you don’t like what you see. Although, unlike standard insecurities teenagers deal with, this is different. You aren’t happy with what you see because your outsides don’t seem to match your insides. Maybe it’s because you have always felt more like a boy growing up? And now, you’ve started developing breasts. Or the other way around. Since you don’t feel safe telling anyone what’s going on, you start feeling overwhelmingly depressed.
Trapped Inside Your Own Body
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute, 41 percent of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals attempt suicide at some point in their lives. Adolescents with identity issues are more likely to be depressed, anxious, or suicidal. This is because they have feelings of varying degrees of being mismatch between their preferred gender and their developing bodies.
Gender dysphoria is a complicated subject for some individuals. It is important for parents to be supportive when a child is struggling with these types of body issues. If your son or daughter has decided to share their true self with you on this topic, congratulations. It is a gift because they wants you to know who they really are. But if you are asking yourself as a parent, what now, here are a few tips we’d like to share:
- First, and most important of all, tell them you love them. Let them know how proud you are of them for sharing themselves with you. Unconditional love should be the foundation for all children, despite what they are going through.
- Stay away from giving your children labels, such as ‘tomboy.’ Let them define themselves when they are ready.
- Be supportive and let them know they can dress anyway they want.
- Help them find a support group with other kids that have similar non-conforming issues.
- Seek a professional therapist who can support the adolescent through their process.
- Be sensitive and ask your son or daughter what pronoun they want you to use. If by habit you forget and use the wrong pronoun, just apologize. Don’t make a big deal out of it.
- Be aware if your child is being bullied at school or within the community. Take steps to keep them safe by contacting the school counselor or principal.
- Educate yourself on gender nonconforming behavior. You can do this by finding material that offer parenting strategies. Experts don’t always agree, so find what works for you and what doesn’t work.
- Make sure to see your own therapist so you have the support you need to navigate unfamiliar territory.
Polaris is a residential treatment center that specializes in treating LGBTQ teens. Our hand-picked staff have a proven ability to diagnose and treat gender dysphoria in adolescents. Discover the Polaris difference. and learn about our individualized approach to recovery. For more information on our programs, or to get in touch with an admissions specialist, contact us today.