Advice about LGBT Teens
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Advice about LGBT Teens
My son is 24. To the best of my knowledge, he has always had
male and female friends, has had several girlfriends with whom
he has been sexually active. Recently he informed me that he
thinks he might be queer or trans. He commented that hadn't I
noticed he'd been wearing leggings lately....(which he buys from
a women's store). I had noticed but people dress so many
different ways it meant nothing to me. He told me he has been
taking androgen blockers and considering taking birth control
pills. I was extremely upset, particularly over his ''self
medicating'' although he assured me he is being very cautious
and researching everything very carefully. I am worried that
some of what he does maybe irreversible. He also has discussed
having his facial hair removed. I have suggested his seeing a
therapist but he isn't interested. If you met him you would be
shocked since he is so ''male'', in appearance and in his
interests (a sports fanatic). I don't know if he is saying all
this to provoke me or if it is a phase (24 seems kind of late to
come to this kind of decision), or even a political statement on
his part. He has never given any previous signs of anything
like this before. Has anyone ever gone through something like
this with a young adult? Or have any suggestions about what, if
anything, I should do.
It sounds more like your son is transgender than gay, as he is taking
steps to become more ''female.'' This is a pretty huge topic to bring
up to parents, so maybe he's finally feeling ready to tell you. You
can't really look at his past for answers as he may have been using
those girlfriends to hide behind, and an interest in sports doesn't
really determine gender. I'm pretty sure if he stops taking androgen
blockers and the pill, his body will go back to its former self.
Surgery is really the thing that would be hard to reverse. I would
encourage your son to talk to someone, and he's probably already in
some sort of network if he's using trans medication already.
You might want to ask him to tell you more about what's going on with
him, letting him know you're confused but you want to support him,
asking him to share some resources so you can be better informed, and
seeing if he needs anything from you.
You might want to check out an organization for parents called PFLAG:
There also the Gay Lesbian Bi Trans National Help Center hotline you
could call if you just want to talk to someone:
I have a trans kid who is much younger, so I don't really have
resources to suggest for a parent of a young adult. I can share that
it's been a hard road for me, but I love my child and am trying to do
what ever I can to help and be an advocate.
Mom to a trans kid
Start by calling PFLAG for advice and perspective. From your
perspective, your son's feelings are new, but perhaps from his
they've been going on since childhood and he didn't share them. You
need some help understanding what he is feeling. Sounds like your
first talk was confusing. Maybe he was nervous. Maybe he is confused
I agree that self-medicating is a bad idea. But I think this must be
very real and serious for him if he is attempting it. Do not assume
that what he has told you has anything to do with you, or a phase.
That can be very hurtful for him. Tell him you accept him, and want
to know more so you can be of support. Regardless of his gender, he
is your child and that has not changed.
Wow this is a lot for you and your son right now. The first thing I
suggest is that you get support from a therapist who specializes in
gender identity. No matter whether your son ends up identifying as
male/female gay/straight or somewhere in between either what he needs
most now is your acceptance. Family Acceptance Project has published
research saying that family acceptance of LGBT youth leads to LGBT
youth leading better lives. They are also a good resource for you to
get more information. It shows a lot that your son felt safe enough
to disclose this to you.
If you than reframe therapy to your son stating you want him to have
support as he goes through whatever transition he is going through he
may be more open to it. Many times LGBT people resist therapy
because they feel like it pathologizes them. If he indeed identifies
as a woman it is part of the Standards of Care to get some therapy to
assure that the person is sound in making the decision. It is best
if he gets hormones from a reliable/safe source. Lyon Martin in San
Francisco works with transgender woman and prescribes hormones. Try
and talk to your son about what research he has done and what he has
learned. Ask him to teach you more. This will open the dialogue so
that if you later work on the issue of getting hormones safely he
will know that you understand where he is coming from.
I do not think this is acting out or a stage at age 24. Just because
his outward appearance is very male doesn't mean that resonates
internally for him. Sometimes with clients I have worked with it
makes it even more challenging for them. Younger people are also
often less invested in a clear male/female identity so sometimes they
identify somewhere in between. Your son could probably use some
support in working through that. Pacific Center in Berkeley also has
groups for gender non conforming and transgender people.
I will attach links to the places I mentioned at the end. I do work
as a therapist with gender non-conforming and/or transgender people
so please feel free to contact me if you need more information. I am
also attaching a link to a book Transsexualism that is how he
I wish you good luck
Family Acceptance Project http://familyproject.sfsu.edu/home
Pacific Center http://www.pacificcenter.org/
Lyon Martin http://www.lyon-martin.org/
It sounds like your son is trans, not gay. A friend of mine came out
as trans just recently, as an adult.
Coming out as trans must be much harder than coming out as gay,
because there are just not very many people who know a trans person,
so there is a lot of hearsay ignorance about it, and it seems very
mysterious to most people. Before my friend came out, I thought
being trans was sort of like being gay. My friend had always liked
women so I thought, how could he be gay? So
when he told me, I didn't really believe
him at first. But I have read more about it, and I can now appreciate
what a difficult thing it must be to always think of yourself as
female, when the rest of the world sees you as male. One thing that
struck me that he said, was that he had always felt feminine, but he
thought maybe he would ''grow out of it'' and things would eventually
change if he dated, got married, and lived the guy life. But things
didn't change. Eventually he felt that he could not go on living if
he could not become what he felt he was.
My friend gave me two resources to learn more about trans men and
women: The International Foundation for Gender Education
http://www.ifge.org/ and a book ''She's Not There'' by Jennifer
I hope that helps!! All the best to you and your son.
Your son evidently is not just saying he might be queer--he's saying
he feels like he might be transgender. This is, as you might
imagine, a big deal. I suggest you contact Dr. Diane Ehrensaft. She
is a kind, knowledgeable, compassionate person and can help you with
some resources and understanding what might be going on with your
son. You can find out more about her online at
I realize the irony of what I'm about to suggest, next, which is that
right now an online forum like BPN is not the best place to get
information or help. If your son is transgender, you might, at some
point, want to connect with an online or in-person support community,
read books, etc....and I LOVE Berkeley Parents network, but I don't
believe that posting online here is going to get you what you need.
:Yes, I know, I'm posting this here and maybe it will help you...so,
go ahead and call me silly. What I'm saying is that you should get
knowledgeable, professional help/support at first...not help from a
layperson. The topic is too complicated.
Check out http://www.genderspectrum.org/events/support-groups
It may have some info helpful for you, so you can guide your son.
Best to you
Re worried mama,
I haven't been through what you're talking about, but some of my best
friends are straight, gay, lesbian, bi, unknown, decline to state,
Worry and Parent are synonyms, but at 24, most of what you can do is
love him for who he is. At 24, its not completely clear who he is.
won't be at 44 either.) Self medicating would worry me, and facial
hair removal too. Wouldn't the medication take care of that? On the
other hand, ''I'm queer'' is very direct. Wanting to change his
appearance is quite specific, and permanent change is the point. How
you feel about it is very important for you, it may be much less
important for him. How do you feel about that?
'So ''male''' in appearance and interests isn't unusual for gay or bi
men. Real people aren't stereotypes and sexual preference isn't the
same as gender identity, at the risk of being jargon-esqe.
and intimate partners may mean less than song and story suggest,
though good friends are probably the most important asset any 24 year
old ever had.
You might consider your own good friends- have you talked this over
with any of your gay or lesbian friends? Gotten any suggestions? If
you don't feel right about talking it around with anyone you know,
now, an LGBT parent's support group might be a resource.
I do have experience being 24, and for me, I was long past being a
child and not particularly open to parental opinions. Most children
have left home, and childhood, by that age. If they return, they
return as adults.
I have seen parents take responsibility for their children's
happiness, through adolescence, and into adulthood. It was not pretty
to watch and it was far beyond my ability to fix. Theirs too, as it
turned out. Worrying is natural. Get input from people you trust
before you do anything.
You should definitely check out Gender Spectrum, a wonderful organization for
transgender kids and their families.
Based in the Bay Area, too.
My 14 year old son is depressed and struggling with confusion about
his sexual preference. He is resistant to the idea of therapy
because he says he can't imagine sharing personal details with a
stranger. He knows that his father and I are don't care if he is
straight or gay. We just want him to be confident and proud of who
he is. He is an extraordinary, smart, funny, kind person. I am
looking for any suggestions for a good therapist who might be able
to help (either by working directly with my son or with my husband
and me) with with depression and sexual preference issues?
Concerned mother of a sad teen
Our son is 13 and has just gotten through a rough patch (12 -
13 y.o.) that sounds similar to your son's experience. We
took our son to the Pacific Center on Telegraph. They have
wonderful counselors there who met with us, with our son,
with all of us together, to discuss his sadness and try to
find ways to manage his transition and coming out process.
They also helped him communicate his needs better. After six
months of help, he is clearly adjusting and much, much
happier. He has made a new group of friends who ''get it,''
and has become involved in his school's GSA (Gay/Straight
Alliance) as well as a drop in group that meets for young
''questioning'' teens at the Pacific Center on Fridays.
Whether your son is, or is not gay, this process will help
him discover that he doesn't need to pick a label or hurry
and grow up. He just needs to feel accepted and find folks
that honor his path. It does get better.
Two Moms with Gay Son
You may want to check out the Pacific Center in Berkeley for
some youth services/groups.
I highly recommend Paul Anthony Lewis...He works from his
home in Lafayette and is very attuned to teen issues. My own
child has worked with him and I'm pleased with the changes
in attitude/behavior/outlook. In added bonus is that he's
also gay (not that he goes around announcing it) but I think
he would absolutely be able help in your son's case. Here's
his website.. http://www.2veritas.com/
you might want to consider providing the contact information
for pacific center (telegraph avenue in berkeley) or LYRIC
(young persons' lesbian/gay/transgender/queer/questioning
youth organization in san francisco) as an alternative or at
least an adjunct to therapy.
it is difficult to come out and
it is harder if the process is seen as a therapeutic issue
rather than a social-emotional/societal one. i might suggest
that you support your child checking out both of these
organizations and see what is going on that might be of
if your child's high school has a gay/straight
alliance group or committee, he should join it. there is
power in belonging and that can be 100 times more effective
than one-on-one therapy.
gay since age 15
Having the normal teenager aingst around the house that comes with the
age and high school years. The other day, my friend, who has finished
colleging two kids ask me how things were going with a new rebellious
phase concerning courses in high school. She then said, Oh, did xxx
go through her lesbian phase yet? I asked what she meant and she said
many teenage girls go through a brief lesbian identity phase in late
high school and early college. I had not heard of this. I have nothing
negative about lesbians so please don't jump on me. I just want to
know if this is a common passing phase I should expect.
I truly appreciate any help or insight
Ah, yes, the Lesbian Phase. My daughter did not go through this, but
she said it was important to be tolerant/supportive, and at age 21,
she continues to have straight, gay and bisexual friends.
Off the top of my head, I can think of five BHS friends who declared
themselves gay or bi when they were about 15, although I doubt they
all acted on it. One truly was and is a lesbian, two were having sex
with each other during weekend sleepovers, and the other two I'm not
sure about. Of the two who were having sex, both also acquired
boyfriends about a year later. I don't know if they're continuing
bisexual behavior in college.
My overall impression was that at this particular age, bisexuality can
be more or less equal parts curiosity, desire, the pleasure of
impressing their friends, the security factor of being sexual with so
familiar a body, and perhaps the practical reason of not being able to
get pregnant with a female partner. With one exception, I found all
these young women likeable, intelligent, and energetic. (The exception
thought it just hilarious to make unwanted passes at my daughter, and
pretended not to understand when my daughter pointed out that she was
practicing the sexual harassment that they all scorned from boys!)
Anyway, I doubt the phase, or whatever it is, is any more or less
harmful than heterosexuality (apart, of course, from the risk of being
abused by homophobic classmates). And if your daughter does come to
you with tales of friends' sexual preferences, it's a great opening
for conversations about love, sex, values, taking care of
yourself--talks that will keep the two of you close even as she
There is a term for this: ''Lesbian Until Graduation''. I don't know
how common this really is, but there's actually an entry for it in
Wikipedia (I'll let you decide whether that makes it legitimate):
My cousin (male, age 19 if it matters) just came out and
his parents, who I have no doubt will be wonderful once
they 'adjust.' Right now they are in the initial stages of
shock and struggling to wrap their brains around it. They
have asked if for good books for parents, and they have
already been told about P-flag. They're both very bright
and somewhat psychologically savvy, but in this area,
whatever the best books for parents are, is probably the
way to go. Thanks in advance.
My daughter, now 17 came out about 2 years ago. With all
the stuff kids face now the least of my concerns is her
sexual orientation, probably because we live in Berkeley,
have many gay friends and neighbors and it's not an issue.
I think the biggest fear for parents of gay/lesbian children
is how others will accept them, and if they live in a
community where it is an issue they need more information
than a book will give them.
They will probably be surprised by how many parents of gay
children are around them. Please encourage them to join
Pflag to meet other parents where they live; it will be much
more beneficial than any book they would read.
this page was last updated: Jul 29, 2012
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