Families are key to the development of happy trans, gender-fluid and non-binary kids – and this association offers a helping hand…
By Renée Sylvestre-Williams
Pride is a celebration, and as we celebrate with our friends, family, found family and loved ones, let’s not forget the smallest members of our family: kids who are exploring their identity.
Anyone who has spent time talking with kids knows they have opinions on the world around them. They also develop a sense of self from a very young age. According to the Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth, a child’s sense of self and connection to their family and community happens within the first six years of life.
This includes trans, gender-fluid and non-binary children, who often express their preference at a young age. The American Academy of Pediatrics found that “Society struggles to adapt to and appreciate the diverse experiences of transgender and gender-diverse (TGD) individuals, which contributes to intolerance, discrimination and stigma. In this context, TGD youths and their families increasingly present to pediatric providers for advocacy, care and referrals.”
This is why an association like Gender Creative Kids Canada can help. The association began in Quebec in 2013 after three mothers couldn’t find the support and resources they needed. The parents created a support group and found that there were other parents who were looking for the same help. That initial support group grew into Gender Creative Kids Canada, which provides support and education for families of trans, non-binary and gender-fluid children.
“LGBTQ organizations are only working with teenagers, and don’t really address the family as a unit or don’t really help out parents,” says Charlie Savignac, the service coordinator for Gender Creative Kids.
By the time parents reach out to Gender Creative Kids, Savignac says they are already supportive of their kids and have already done some work, but know they need help.
The family is key to a child who identifies as trans, gender-fluid or non-binary, says Savignac. “With adults, we have our found family, but kids are dependent on their [birth] families. [Family members] can create that positive image of their identity and let them have the freedom and give them support to discover who they are,” they say.
Savignac says that because it’s inevitable that kids will face some kind of discrimination, it’s important that their families defend them, support them and help give them the tools to face discrimination. Family members can also deal with schools, with their children’s doctors, with all the administration that comes with changing a name, and even with economic support.
“Families are the reason that trans kids can have good psychological well-being,” Savignac says. “We have so many parents who have told us that when they have let their child transition, they have discovered that they have much more happy, outgoing and well-functioning kids. And these are the things we need to share more, that supporting their kids transition is the best way to create a happy adult.”
These conversations need to take place year-round, but Pride is a time when they come to the fore. Savignac says Pride is a place for kids to see the many futures they can have and all the possibilities of who they can become if they wish to. “Life as a trans person can totally be filled with joy and community. So our kids should be welcomed at Pride because they are our future and we kind of want this proudness that comes with Pride to be there for generations to come.”
RENÉE SYLVESTRE-WILLIAMS is a Toronto-based journalist. She has been published in Forbes, Flare, Canadian Living and The Globe and Mail.