Cisgender Parents of Transgender Young People



This chapter focuses on cisgender parents of transgender children. It particularly problematises “loss” narratives, emphasising that feelings of “loss” relate to the context of cisgenderism and a loss of certitude, rather than relating to individual children themselves. After examining the previous literature that has explored the experience of cisgender parents of transgender children in the context of schools, the chapter draws on two data sets. The first is a survey of the experiences of Australian cisgender parents of transgender children, and the second is an analysis of first-person narratives in books published by and for parents of transgender children. The chapter examines both the positive and negative experiences that parents of transgender children have with schools, highlighting that schools which are proactive in developing and implementing inclusive policies and procedures are likely to provide the best educational experiences.


Transgender Young People Transgender Children Transgender Daughter lossLoss bullyingBullying 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Baldwin, D. R. (2015). Parents’ experiences as they interact with their transgender children’s school (Unpublished Master’s thesis). North Dakota State University.Google Scholar
  2. Barron, C., & Capous-Desyllas, M. (2017). Transgressing the gendered norms in childhood: Understanding transgender children and their families. Journal of GLBT Family Studies.
  3. Birnkrant, J. M., & Przeworski, A. (2017). Communication, advocacy, and acceptance among support-seeking parents of transgender youth. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health, 21(2), 132–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brill, S., & Kenney, L. (2016). The transgender teen: A handbook for parents and professionals supporting transgender and non-binary teens. Jersey City: Cleis Press.Google Scholar
  5. Brill, S., & Pepper, R. (2008). The transgender child: A handbook for families and professionals. San Francisco: Cleis Press.Google Scholar
  6. Galupo, M. P., Krum, T. E., Hagen, D. B., Gonzalez, K. A., & Bauerband, L. A. (2014). Disclosure of transgender identity and status in the context of friendship. Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling, 8(1), 25–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Janus, M., Kopechanski, L., Cameron, R., & Hughes, D. (2008). In transition: Experiences of parents of children with special needs at school entry. Early Childhood Education Journal, 35(5), 479–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Johnson, D., Sikorski, J., Savage, T. A., & Woitaszewski, S. A. (2014). Parents of youth who identify as transgender: An exploratory study. School Psychology Forum, 8(1), 56–74.Google Scholar
  9. Kitzinger, C. (1990). The token lesbian chapter. In S. Wilkinson (Ed.), Feminist social psychologies: International perspectives. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Kuvalanka, K. A., Weiner, J. L., & Mahan, D. (2014). Child, family, and community transformations: Findings from interviews with mothers of transgender girls. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 10(4), 354–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Norwood, K. (2013). Grieving gender: Trans-identities, transition, and ambiguous loss. Communication Monographs, 80(1), 24–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Nutt, A. E. (2016). Becoming Nicole: The extraordinary transformation of an ordinary family. London: Atlantic Books.Google Scholar
  13. Olson, K. R., Durwood, L., DeMeules, M., & McLaughlin, K. A. (2016). Mental health of transgender children who are supported in their identities. Pediatrics, 137(3), e20153223.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. Payne, E., & Smith, M. (2012). Rethinking safe schools approaches for LGBTQ students: Changing the questions we ask. Multicultural Perspectives, 14(4), 187–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Pullen Sansfaçon, A., Robichaud, M. J., & Dumais-Michaud, A. A. (2015). The experience of parents who support their children’s gender variance. Journal of LGBT Youth, 12(1), 39–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Pyne, J. (2016). “Parenting is not a job … it’s a relationship”: Recognition and relational knowledge among parents of gender non conforming children. Journal of Progressive Human Services, 27(1), 21–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Rahilly, E. P. (2015). The gender binary meets the gender-variant child: Parents’ negotiations with childhood gender variance. Gender and Society, 29(3), 338–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Riggs, D. W. (2007). Re-assessing the foster care system: Examining the impact of heterosexism on lesbian and gay applicants. Hypatia, 22(1), 192–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Riggs, D. W., & Bartholomaeus, C. (2015). The role of school counsellors and psychologists in supporting transgender people. The Australian Educational and Developmental Psychologist, 32(2), 158–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Riggs, D. W., & Due, C. (2015). Support experiences and attitudes of Australian parents of gender variant children. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(7), 1999–2007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Riggs, D. W., & Peel, E. (2016). Critical kinship studies: An introduction to the field. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Riggs, D. W., & Willing, I. (2013). “They’re all just little bits, aren’t they?”: South Australian lesbian mothers’ experiences of marginalisation in primary schools. Journal of Australian Studies, 37(3), 364–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Riley, E. A., Sitharthan, G., Clemson, L., & Diamond, M. (2011). The needs of gender-variant children and their parents: A parent survey. International Journal of Sexual Health, 23(3), 181–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Slesaransky-Poe, G., Ruzzi, L., Dimedio, C., & Stanley, J. (2013). Is this the right elementary school for my gender nonconforming child? Journal of LGBT Youth, 10(1–2), 29–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Wahlig, J. L. (2015). Losing the child they thought they had: Therapeutic suggestions for an ambiguous loss perspective with parents of a transgender child. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 11(4), 305–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Whittington, H. (2016). Raising Ryland: Our story of parenting a transgender child with no strings attached. New York: William Morrow.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Education, Psychology and Social WorkFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia

Personalised recommendations