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My 19 year old is questioning his gender identity


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My 19 year old recently told his brothers, my husband and I that he is questioning his gender identity. He feels that he is somewhere in the nonbinary or trans part of the spectrum and is working with a therapist to explore this. I'm using he/his/him because he hasn't asked us to do otherwise yet. We're all supportive and just want him to be happy and true to himself. He is growing his hair out and generally grooming himself to look more feminine. My question is, is it ok to compliment how he looks? For example, his eyebrows look amazing and I want to tell him that but don't want to embarrass him or make him feel self-conscious. I think he would appreciate it, everyone likes to be told they look good, but this is new territory for us and it's a little awkward. 

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On 12/22/2020 at 4:38 PM, ChrisR said:

My question is, is it ok to compliment how he looks? For example, his eyebrows look amazing and I want to tell him that but don't want to embarrass him or make him feel self-conscious. I think he would appreciate it, everyone likes to be told they look good, but this is new territory for us and it's a little awkward. 

Hello ChrisR, I wish my mother would have done that for me. Sure, I would’ve been a bit embarrassed by it at first but the topic sounds like it’s been breached at least once so what are they hiding? Not much it seems. I can remember an incident my wife noticed my long feminine length and shapely nails while we were both standing at the bathroom sink together. She chuckled and said, “Wow, your nails look nicer than mine.” I felt like a ‘deer in headlights’ at that moment and said absolutely nothing back but I was secretly very happy inside despite my complete embarrassment. It didn’t stop me from growing or preening them btw..lol. We’ve since talked about that incident. She was apparently just being “matter of fact” about my nails and simply thought I might be going through some midlife thing that men sometime go through. Doesn’t make sense I know...her words. haha

 

I don’t see what it would hurt to compliment your child as long as it’s truly sincere and not a way to indirectly tears them down. This is a very delicate time in your child’s life. If there is any hidden agenda underlying your compliment to your child they will inevitably pick up on it. Nothing good can come of it and they will trust you less than before. Also, I personally wouldn’t do it in front of others...at least until their out to all. It may intensify their reaction. They could think you’re trying to make fun at their expense. If it were my child, I would test it out if they were alone with me. It could even start a discussion with them...stranger things have happened. Communication is a good thing when trying to connect and understand anyone.

 

Warmest Regards,

Susan R🌷

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Thanks Susan R. It would definitely be sincere and would not be in front of others. He's asked me for tips about hair removal and hair care, so we've been communicating pretty well and he isn't trying to hide anything. I'm just afraid of doing or saying something to make him uncomfortable during this already delicate time. 

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3 hours ago, ChrisR said:

He's asked me for tips about hair removal and hair care, so we've been communicating pretty well and he isn't trying to hide anything. I'm just afraid of doing or saying something to make him uncomfortable during this already delicate time.

Wow, this is really incredible. You could be their “go to” for those womanly tidbits that aren’t easy to find. They may ask you even more in the future. Just be there for them and don’t keep much expectations. Your parent child relationship might blossom very soon. They are building trust with you and you seem to be answering the call. Good for you and thanks for being so understanding. You are obviously a very caring and understanding mom. It’s really nice to have you aboard!

 

Susan R🌷

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Hi @ChrisR pleased to meet you. :) It is wonderful that your 19 year old felt comfortable enough to share this big part of themselves with your family and receive support. Like Susan I honestly see no issue with a compliment, we often tend to focus on negative aspects of ourselves so as they  move towards a more feminine or non binary presentation any little boost will stick with them.

Don't put too much thought into it, compliments should be honest and natural, if you would be happy to hear it, chances are they will be too. 

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On 12/23/2020 at 9:38 AM, ChrisR said:

My question is, is it ok to compliment how he looks?

Hi Chris! I commend you on being a caring and supportive parent, and Ohhhh YES!  PLEASE be sure to compliment him (her). 

This is so important for self-acceptance, and your sincerity will come through.  I believe this will also build a strong bond of trust between the two of you.

My wife is still struggling with accepting my gender identity, and I know the feeling when my my appearance is criticized or changes I would like to make are not supported.

 

Even though your son has not asked you to yet (may be apprehensive to broach the subject) but you could ask which pronouns would be preferable.  Then you will know for sure, and that's another affirmation of acceptance on your part.

 

Therapy will be a great benefit, and maybe someday you will be able to attend a session to discuss how best to support your child.

 

Deep breaths ... one step at a time
 

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On 12/23/2020 at 8:46 PM, Susan R said:

You could be their “go to” for those womanly tidbits that aren’t easy to find.

I am very glad that they are comfortable asking me for help and I hope that continues. I'm also grateful that they were able to come out to us at a relatively young age and not feel like they needed to hide their real self for years into adulthood. I can't imagine how difficult this process must be for them. Like @KayC said, one step at a time. I need to just keep being mom and try not to overthink it.

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2 hours ago, ChrisR said:

I'm also grateful that they were able to come out to us at a relatively young age and not feel like they needed to hide their real self for years into adulthood. I can't imagine how difficult this process must be for them.

Your unconditional love and acceptance has possibly saved your child years if not decades of shame, self abuse, and depression. I loved my parents dearly but if there was one thing I wish they would’ve handled differently, it would be their response to my early crossdressing and dealing with my gender issues. Even allowing me to see a therapist may have helped. You have literally changed the trajectory of their journey in positive way by accepting them for who they are. They will never forget this as they mature into adulthood.

 

My Best,

Susan R🌷

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MomTGDaughter

All signs indicate he is going to become a woman. most especially with his/her eyebrows and longer hair. He/She is probably taking it slowly so you get used to it. Complimenting him/her on her female looks wil help her come out faster. I literally had to encourage my m2f daughter to come out, she was embarrassed about it at first, but has allowed me to help her transition. 

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On 12/28/2020 at 6:33 PM, MomTGDaughter said:

He/She is probably taking it slowly so you get used to it.

Yes, it occurred to me that this is probably the case. Thanks for the advice! It's nice to connect with people who have been there, either as a parent or as someone who has transitioned.

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  • 2 months later...

Update: Shortly after I posted here, I asked them where they were in their gender therapy and they said that they were pretty sure they wanted to transition. Previously they said they were not sure and I was trying to be neutral, hence the awkwardness I felt about complimenting their more feminine expression. After this conversation, I was comfortable giving compliments and they appreciated it. They just started hormone therapy this week and I really hope that they start feeling better soon. I know that it's a long road, but I'm relieved that they are moving in the right direction. 

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Susan R
4 hours ago, ChrisR said:

After this conversation, I was comfortable giving compliments and they appreciated it. They just started hormone therapy this week and I really hope that they start feeling better soon. I know that it's a long road, but I'm relieved that they are moving in the right direction. 

@ChrisR Wow, this is a wonderful update and I take my hat of to you for your affirmation of her and her decision to transition. This is going to make her life so much easier from this point on. I wish all parents had the understanding and compassion that you have and I wish her the best in her continuing journey.🙂 Thank you for your uplifting update!

 

My best,

Susan R🌷

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9 hours ago, ChrisR said:

I know that it's a long road, but I'm relieved that they are moving in the right direction. 

That's great news!  Your love and patience has been a decisive factor in supporting them.  You're an AWESOME MOM❣️

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Confused1

Hi ChrisR,

 

We all wish we had a parent like you!

 

Hugs,

Mike

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MomTGDaughter
On 3/7/2021 at 6:54 PM, ChrisR said:

Update: Shortly after I posted here, I asked them where they were in their gender therapy and they said that they were pretty sure they wanted to transition. Previously they said they were not sure and I was trying to be neutral, hence the awkwardness I felt about complimenting their more feminine expression. After this conversation, I was comfortable giving compliments and they appreciated it. They just started hormone therapy this week and I really hope that they start feeling better soon. I know that it's a long road, but I'm relieved that they are moving in the right direction. 

 

When you say "they" it sounds so distant and like you are referring to a group of people.  Gender neutral pronouns doesn't sound right, initially you lost me for a minute. This is also a good time to refer to her as a girl and use she/her as this will help build her more confidence.  I refer to my former son as my daughter and use her/she all the time. Yes, it may not be for everyone, but this will make things less confusing. 

 

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On 3/10/2021 at 7:05 PM, MomTGDaughter said:

Gender neutral pronouns doesn't sound right, initially you lost me for a minute. 

 

I agree that they/them pronouns can be awkward. When I hear somebody refer to a single person as they, I immediately think of more than one person and wonder what other people they are referring to. It takes a second to process. One of my other kids has a non-binary partner who uses they/them pronouns, so I've had some practice but it still doesn't come naturally. As for my daughter, after coming out she didn't ask us to switch pronouns. Eventually, "he" just didn't feel right to me anymore, so I asked and she let me know that we should use "they". Likewise, now I think she is at the point where she would prefer feminine pronouns but is shy about saying something, so I'm going to start using "she" and see what happens. It would definitely be easier.

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