The teenage years are a challenging time for nearly everyone. For young people who realize during this time that their gender identity – or their psychological perception of their gender – does not match the gender they were assigned when they were born, they may go through the additional struggle of gender dysphoria.
Gender dysphoria occurs when a person of any age feels like their gender is something other than their assigned gender and has a strong desire to be that other gender, and this causes them emotional distress. As transgender and cisgender teens figure out their identity during this time, knowing what support you can provide as a parent can help reduce the anxiety, depression, and stress they may feel about gender identity.
How to Support Your Gender Non-Conforming Teen
Gender dysphoria can occur at any age, but it is often common around puberty when changes in their body can make differences between their anatomy and gender identity feel more obvious. Not every transgender or gender non-conforming teenager will experience gender dysphoria, but many do.
In addition to feeling a disconnect with their assigned identity, many students may fear that they will not be accepted for their gender identity in school, with friends, and among family which often makes depression and emotional distress worse. You can help by providing support at home when you:
- Foster Open Conversations – Create a space where your teenager feels comfortable discussing emotions and challenges. If they bring up gender identity, let them talk first and actively listen. They likely will have been thinking about their identity for some time and will have a range of feelings about what it means to them.
- Remain Accepting – Remind yourself and your teenager that you love them regardless of their identity and accept them for the way they feel in the moment without trying to change their mind. It is alright to take time later to come to terms with your thoughts about your child’s identity.
- Affirm Your Teen’s Gender Identity – If your teen wants to affirm their transgender identity, by changing their name, pronouns, clothes, or other parts of their expressed identity, help them enact those changes. You may need to work with schools or organizations your teen is in. With the help of a physician, you and your teen can also consider medical affirmation options.
- Meet with a Dallas Psychiatrist – Regardless of gender identity, you do not want your teen to experience depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or low self esteem. A psychiatrist in Dallas can design a treatment plan that helps minimize emotional stress and increase mental wellbeing.
Aware Behavioral Health provides adolescent anxiety and depression treatment in Dallas. Licensed psychiatrist Dr. Surin Sehdev is also experienced with many forms of talk therapy and can work with your teenager to make sure they are getting the support they need for whatever struggles they may be facing. Contact us to set up an online appointment.