Q: Our daughter would like us to tell her Grandparents that she is transgender. Do you have any tips? / How can a 3-year-old know their gender?

My daughter, who is trans, would like her Dad and I to do the business of outing her to Grandparents. She will not be present when we do this. Do you have any tips?

Discuss with your daughter which points are important to her, both the ones she wants communicated, and any she doesn’t want discussed. Honor her wishes on both.

When you give this information to her grandparents, present it matter-of-factly and don’t give space for argument. “This is our daughter, who is stepping into who she really is. This is her name, these are her pronouns. She wants for you to know that she loves you and it’s really important to her that you understand that this is who she really is.”

Questions are fine, as long as they seek to acquire information. Questions meant to question the validity of her identity or to spark debate aren’t ok – cut those off quickly. Good: “I’d love to take her shopping for clothes, what are her favorite stores?” Good: “Is her school doing a good job of supporting her?” Bad: “When do you think she’ll grow out of this phase?” Very bad:“Have you told her that she can’t go to heaven if she’s this way?”

Make it clear that you love her and support her 100%.

Make it clear that this is happy news: your child is stepping out of the shadows, from an existence which was likely painful and confusing, into a life where she is whole and doesn’t have to feel afraid or ashamed.

Nobody died. There isn’t a loss. You’ve always had a daughter; you just didn’t know that she was a daughter until recently.

Basically, keep it happy and leave little space for dissent. This is how it is.

How can a child know its gender at 3 years old when they don’t even know what gender is?

At 3 years old, I didn’t know what gravity was, but I was able to recognize the pattern that without something to hold it up, things tended to fall down (hence the magic of helium balloons – here was an object which seemed to fall up!).

It’s the same with gender. At 3 years old, I didn’t have to know what gender was to be able to recognize the patterns. I saw certain behaviors, appearances, clothes, etc. amongst one group of my peers, and a different set amongst another group. I was able to know which of those behaviors/traits felt most natural to me, and was therefore able to know that I was a girl, even when other people told me that I was a boy.

You don’t have to be able to grasp the inner workings of a concept to understand how that concept applies to you.

3 thoughts on “Q: Our daughter would like us to tell her Grandparents that she is transgender. Do you have any tips? / How can a 3-year-old know their gender?

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  1. I don’t like when people telling me, when I tell that all I knew at 3 years old I wanted to be a boy and hated when they segregated by sex and out me with other girls…that I knew from an early age I was “trans”. I did not have access to that kind of language until almost after high school. To this day I still don’t know what means when someone says “I’m trans” and tries to build a siblinghood off that with me. I wanted to be a boy, I was able to undergo SRS to masculinize my body as far as medically possible to live my life as a man. If you mean you share that mind/body disconnect, I understand. But I don’t want to reclassified as some third group; I’m one of the guys, that’s alll I see it as.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand where you’re coming from. I don’t see “trans” as a third gender/sex, but rather, as an adjective — it tells people something about me. So when I say I’m a “trans woman”, the noun is “woman”; I am a woman. I am a woman who happens to be trans, but that doesn’t define who I am any more than identifying as a “tall woman” identifies who I am. It’s just an extra piece of information about my experience as a woman.


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