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12 year old has told me they are non binary. Advise please?

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My child was born male, and has told me today they identify as non binary. 

Since they were about 4 or 5 I started waiting for the day they would tell me they were gay. I know that sounds stupid and way too young, but I could just tell. I never said this to them btw, it was just me inside myself waiting.


They came out as gay last year and today told me they are non binary, and would like to start buying skirts and tights etc.


Now I am happy to do this. However I have some concerns which I would like some advice on please?


1) Is 12 too young for my child to start wearing skirts etc? And if it’s ok at this age what kind of things would be appropriate for their age?


2) My child is incredibly sensitive, painfully so, and I am concerned that any subsequent teasing from peers will damage their self esteem. How do I over come this and support them through it?


3) Is this something the school should be made aware of?


I am very new to this so any advice will be greatly received. 

Thank you.

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1. It's not too young and I think that as a parent I would merge the dressing rules for girls and boys into one basket and go from there. If it's a typically girly clothes then ask yourself "if I had a girl wearing that at that age, would it be ok?" and same kind of questions for boy clothes. It's the same thing then anybody else, same culturally influenced rules. Try to educate them about both side of the coin for binary people so they are fully aware of the frontier. Then its their choice to respect those frontiers or not.


2. I can't wait to ear what others have to say about this. IMO try to put them in contact with a community of some sorts in you area to improve their support. That combined with your support will help a lot. I don't think there's a way to avoid being teased, sadly. It's not a thing under anyone's control. It depends on societal rules. Non binary is even more unknown then binary trans can be so it's even more subject to mockery. I think it's just the sad truth. But, self confidence is really important, much more then we think it is at 12. It's the strange thing about this, the more they have a solid self confidence the less they will be teased. It they assume who they are and are proud of it then it will be far more though for others to reach them and make them sad.


3. It depends on the area where you live, if people are conservative or not? I would probe the school with questions I think. I don't know what is the politic of your particular school.


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No experience with child wanting to dress in a non-typical way, but we noticed our son was gay just about as soon as he developed a personality. 

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Emily michelle

I’m glad to hear that that your child had the courage to come out to you. Even better that you support and accept them.


I don’t see a problem with them wearing skirts and tights. I agree with Mary that what ever clothes they choose it should be age appropriate other than that it’s should be up to them.


I would say probably the best thing would be to have them see a therapist and maybe they can work out the sensitivity and low self esteem. I suffered from low self esteem growing up and it still gets to me. I have found I’m my own worst enemy. Unfortunately people will always make fun. It is more up to how they react to being made fun of. I’m 33 and still made fun of.


I would think the school should know but that depends on what they want. Maybe they don’t feel comfortable letting school know. Maybe the school will be moreaccomadating for them that they know. Eventually it will come down what bathrooms they can use.


That is great they had the courage to come out. I wish I had that kind of courage when I was their age.

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  • Admin

My suggestion is to find the nearest LGBTQ Community Center where you live. 


These organizations are UK affiliates of Parents and Friends Of Lesbian and Gays (PFLAG) which is a U.S. organization for families of all LGBT people.


http://PFLAG UK Website: http://www.pflag.co.uk/ Email: [email protected]


http://FFLAG Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Website: https://fflag.org.uk



West Yorkshire-Leeds 
c/o V.A. Leeds Stringer House
34 Lupton Street
Hunslet Leeds
England LS10 2QW
Phone: 0113-267-4627


In the organization they will have information about your schools and will have groups for the young people to meet each other and see how they fit in.  Good for the whole family I hope.

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Unfortunately, people might be mean about what your child wears even if it conforms to a binary gender. Nobody can escape judgmental behavior from peers and sometimes from adults. They might decide not to wear the expected types of clothing if they get teased too much, but, on the other hand, low self-esteem and high sensitivity don't force someone to make that decision. Your child might feel so much better in their new clothes that they decide to educate their peers instead of giving in to pressure. It depends on what makes it easiest for them to get through the day or the week. If they're socially phobic, they might feel less enthusiastic about the new clothes because of judgment in social situations, and not wear the female-gendered clothing as often. They might have told you they want to wear those outfits because they really want to do so in public, or they might be finding out whether you're supportive. And clothes shopping can be a great way to socialize with a child.


I don't know enough about your situation to know whether this will be in any way helpful; it depends partly on what kind of self-esteem issues your child has, but if I were a kid in that situation right now, I would find it would relieve a lot of stress to be able to dress conventionally for school, and then change into nice clothes that made me more comfortable, for dinner with the family. You can't control what kids at school do (though if there's outright bullying then it must be reported), but you can control how you behave. When guests come to your home, you can avoid acting apologetic for your child's choice in clothes, for example (if they choose to wear noncomformist outfits when guests visit). You can choose to acknowledge that your child's clothing choices are normal for them.


You and your child might practice some things they can say at school if questioned about their clothes, so they're prepared.


I went through some clothes-related teasing in elementary and middle school and I'm really glad to see you being so ready and willing to help your child.

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One further thought: kids are sometimes fiercely loyal and protective. If your child decides to surround themselves with some friends they've explained the situation to, those children will not only come to see your child's wardrobe choices as normal, they will fight other children who get nasty about it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

50 years ago I wish I could have had a Mum like you. I'm now at 62 just finding my way as Gender Fluid/Bigender? and spend half my time as male and half as female (but with a leaning towards female). It would have been so much better on those around me if I had been able to come out to my parents back then so as to not create the heartache to my close family that has happened now.  So I applaud you making contact here.

I know this is not easy, but the best way to not suffer from bullying is to demonstrate that you do not care what others think about how you present. Being happy with who you are makes you much less of a target.  So please take all the counselling (from a gender issue supportive counsellor) that you can get for your child.  

To be honest, unless your child is unusually unlucky enough to be in a school/community with a high level of ultra right wing or bigoted children (reflecting their parents), most children these days at secondary school are actually socially attracted to those who can express a difference with confidence. If coming out to you and others provides the assurances for your child to be truly how they need to be, I'm sure you would see an increase in confidence as they become more happy with themselves.



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Hi @HerNibs1980 it is fantastic that you are supporting your child. I'm assuming they are either last year of primary or first year of academy? 

I cannot really offer more than has already been given.

High school can be difficult socially for anyone, so while you can try to protect your child it can be difficult.

Clothing is simple as long as it is age appropriate and fits. 


A frend of mine's son was diagnosed with Asbergers and went to school wearing bow ties, simply because he liked them (this was at the time of Matt Smith's Dr Who making bowties cool) but they ended up pulling him out of school to home school him because while the school had an antibullying policy his neurodiversity had marked him out as a problem child.

Being different paints a target on your back unless you can find a group to belong to.


Getting the school involved early will help avoid issues like that - especially if they have a uniform or dress code or when it comes to avoiding changing room issues for PE/swimming.

It doesn't have to be a big meeting but your child's guidance teacher is a good place to start.

Niamh is correct in saying that schools now have anti bullying policies or council implemented lgbt guidlines to follow, but you will know instantly if they are just paying lip service to it or not.

Having an LGBT youth organisation involved will also help offer an outlet and understanding friends who are in similar situations. Donkeysocks is 100% bang on to say that if your child has genuine friends who support them for who they are then it will help with self esteem and it should not matter how they identify because they will have allies.


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