1. It is bone crushingly hard, at first. When your child first tells you, your head will spin, your heart will ache and you will feel overwhelmed. You will realize that you have absolutely no idea what to do. You will feel a tsunami of responsibility. You will be scared out of your mind for them. Know you are not alone in this and that it will ease.
2. There may or may not be a lot of crying on your part. There was for me. I did it in the shower and put on a brave face for my kid. This is an okay part of the process. Don’t beat yourself up. Your world has been rocked and you deserve many good cries.
3. Acknowledge the courage of your child, and believe them. They were incredibly brave to offer you this most important part of themselves. Hold it, nurture it and honor it. They’ve given you something big and are trusting you with it.
4. Acknowledge your own grief. It feels like you are losing a daughter (or a son) and even though they are still right in front of you, you are allowed to grieve them. It is different and it is hard to let go of the story that you told yourself from day one. We all tell ourselves those stories, no matter how gender-evolved we are. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself time to edit and re-write.
5. Reach out for support. Talk to your pediatrician, your therapist. Google. Find blogs, support groups, information. Email bloggers. You will find someone to connect with who has travelled a similar road. It feels awesome to talk to someone who gets it. Help is out there.
6. When people act like they totally relate because every child has their issues, try your best not to haul off and clock them.
7. When people act like they love you and your kid for exactly who you are, treasure them. If they are just willing to listen and let you wonder and wish and worry and cry, keep them close. They are true and you will need them.
8. There are times when you are going to feel completely lost. This is unchartered territory. We are pioneers. Remember to let the love of your child be your compass. That will guide you.
9. It helps to look at your child and remember that that person will still be there. This is a physical exercise; actually do it. If tomorrow you are calling your child by a different pronoun, it is still the same human being who will bug you and thrill you in all the same ways. There will be many changes, but the essence of your kid, the truth of the matter, will still be there. In fact, that essence will be more fully actualized.
10. This is first and foremost their story. They get to drive this one. Figuring out who they are is not your job. Your job is to get them support, get yourself support, and love them. Your job is to make their home an unshakeable arena of love and security. Your job is to pave the way and make sure the road is as safe as it can be, but it’s their feet on the path. Let them walk it.