Life is hard for transgender kids. Rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide tower over the lives of transgender kids at dramatically higher rates than their cisgender peers. One obvious and troubling reason for this is sexual violence. Some 30 percent of trans high schoolers report being the victim of sexual violence within the past year, three times the rate of cisgender peers. But the trouble also continues at home. Many adults don’t understand or accept them. Some think it’s just a phase. Others think trans kids are a threat to cisgender kids, or those who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. Still, others want to support transgender kids and teens, but they don’t know how.
The first step to addressing these tragic statistics at home is to listen, says Russ Toomey, a professor and the program chair of family studies and human development at the University of Arizona. Parents should believe what their child says about their own gender identity, though they should keep track of how persistently and consistently they identify as that gender. The second step? Get support. There are many resources available that provide guidance on how to support trans kids.