Relationship Connection: Telling children about a transgendered parent


I have a really tough question that I am not sure how to address. When is the best time to inform a child that their parent is transgendered? The children range from toddlers to teenagers, and they are completely unaware of the situation. The family has never addressed it with the kids, mainly because they do not know how to go about it. The parents maintain a friendly and cooperative relationship, though the marriage ended over 10 years ago. One parent thinks the children should never be told, while the other thinks they should be told at age 18. When and how should this information be revealed to the kids?


You’re right that this is a tough question. What’s particularly difficult is the lack of detail in the question regarding who wants to tell and who doesn’t. Let me start by asking some questions that need to be considered before moving forward with this discussion:

  1. By “transgendered”, do you mean that one of the parents has already commenced sex reassignment surgery or cross-hormone treatment? Or, do they just identify as a different sex and want to make a legal transition to a new gender? To clarify the difference, the American Psychiatric Association has developed an information sheet on gender dysphoria that you may consider via the link provided.
  2. Is the person affected feeling the urge to take this public, as in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender population, or is he/she content to manage it on their own in the privacy of his/her own home?
  3. What does the parent who wants it shared have to gain by sharing this information with the children?
  4. How would this information benefit or harm the children?

My recommendation is that both parents seek the help of a family counselor who can help each of them sort through their fears and desires as it relates to telling the children. If the purpose is doing what’s in the best interest of the children, then it’s worth spending the time with an objective third party trained in working with these issues sorting through the different scenarios and the impact of each on the children.

Each parent needs to understand the potential impact on the children, which could include shifting parental dynamics in unforeseen ways.

Chances are, the children, especially the older ones, already know or suspect something. If that’s the case, talking about it will only confirm what the children already know. Children are much more perceptive than we give them credit for. They could initially be relieved, angry, indifferent, etc. The parents need to be able to handle the roller coaster of emotions that the children will experience for quite some time.

Waiting until each child is 18 could also be problematic. This might unintentionally encourage additional secret keeping. The delivery of the message and the support the children receive afterwards are the two most important considerations. Again, having a quality and experienced therapist available to the children would be wise.

Stay connected!


Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.




Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!


  • Mary July 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Kudos for the article!

  • real life July 2, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Where’s the puke bucket?

    • Joanna July 2, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      Your wit is only surpassed by your profound sensitivity.

  • Alison Demzon July 2, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Good that you tried to take this on, but you really muddled it is some ways. This first thing to consider is if the person really is showing gender dysporia, and is transgender; the ‘ed’ is superfluous as you are not ‘cised,’ or ‘straighted’ either. The second part is to find a good psychiatric professional that will not try to convince everyone that the person is just confused. Then it becomes sitting down as a family at home and talking about things. The biggest assurances that need to be stressed is that they are still the same person and only the wrapper is changing, that nothing is the kids “fault” as they will blame themselves just as you see in a divorce, and be open about everything that is happening and what is going to happen so there are not surprises later. Never wait for kids to grow up an leave as this only increases the chances of self harm due to self enforced misery.
    Now, how do I know all this? Because I had this discussion not amazingly long ago myself, and know many others that have as well. Also, since I started dealing with this I have dedicated myself to learning everything that I can to help others transition smother and with less surprises.

  • Candice Metzler July 2, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    I appreciate the approach the author takes to this question and I can also appreciate the difficult circumstances that exist in disclosing such information from parent(s) to their children or youth. I understand because I am a parent who has transitioned from my assigned gender at birth and I have disclosed such information to my kids.

    Seeking assistance from a knowledgeable clinician could be of great value in this situation, especially if the clinician is experienced in this area. It sounds like the parents have a relatively good relationship and may be working together on such issues. I believe this is is one of the most important aspect to the situation because it will largely determine how the children will react. Children pick up on cues really well and are much more capable of figuring things out than we often suspect.

    My partner and I were honest with our kids and did not make a big production out of talking to them..We also made a decision that we would talk to them about the situation rather than leaving them potentially confused and left to making their own assumptions. We are very open with our kids and encourage open communication.Our kids continue to be encouraged to talk about their feelings and experiences in all things. My ex and I also continue to have a good relationship and place our children’s interests and well being ahead of our own. She is also supportive which helps. It would be much more difficult to have someone working against me and my relationship with my kids. It would also have a huge impact on their sense of security and well being as we have always been close. Yes, we have unique situations that arise once in awhile and our kids know they can be honest and open about how they feel. Most important, they are learning how to identify what they need and communicate with others about those needs.

  • Reagan July 3, 2013 at 7:44 am

    This is something that I have lived through. As a transgender parent that remain married and through the decisions of my family we have worked through this issue. I would agree that getting a qualified counselor is recommended. I would also suggest that letting your children have a voice in the matter is equally important. I’m not saying that they should dictate to you whether or not to transition, but to hear their concerns and fears. You should be able to work as a family through the transition to make it as comfortable as possible. I have found that children are pretty resilient and can adapt to this new situation just fine as long as you are able to respect them and their concerns. You should be able to fully explain the situation and how it is going to impact their lives.

  • Sweet Jude July 3, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Society needs to take the blame for this one. The weakening of our laws to even consider allowing unnatural relationships or false identities is absurd. Period. The best comparison I can compare it to is eating dogs for dinner. There is no subjective reasoning involved here. People need to wake up out of their hellholes and recognize what they are doing is completely out of the ordinary. Worst of all, it is sheer ignorance of what God has already given to man.

  • Candice Metzler July 4, 2013 at 1:21 am

    Sweet Jude- When you use terms like “natural” and” God given”, I also wonder if you are also including the natural existence of intersex conditions or people who are born with bodies that are not clearly male or female . This is the human reality. Many humans, around 1 in every 100 births, are born atypical of this version of human existence. God certainly creates these individuals as well. There are many different ways a human body can be intersex. Historically, and in some case to this day, children born with intersex bodies are surgically “altered” or “fixed” so they can fit within a societies version of human existence. It’s not that these individuals chose to have these surgical procedures done themselves; they are forced on them by surgeons and parents. Well-meaning in many cases I’m sure. It is the big secret that is kept out of the public rhetoric on this topic-human development is very complex and produces children that are not clearly female or male by society’s terms.
    Around 1 or 2 in every thousand births is a child that receives genital “normalizing surgery”. In some cases, doctors and parents decide to assign a female birth to a child who is born with a condition called micropenis. This child is born “male” but receives surgery to create female genitalia and is assigned a female sex. Are these types of children also in denial of what God has given to man or is it you? Many people would never know if they had an intersex condition and many do not find out until they are older. Just Google “Steve Crecelius” and see what I am talking about or “Man goes to hospital with stomach ache, gets uterus removed or “Intersex Society of North America” and learn more. Understanding these issues should raise serious questions about what it means to be God given and natural.

  • Sweet Jude July 6, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Candace Metzler,

    You are so lost. I am very sorry that you were born totally deaf and utterly blind.

  • sarah May 19, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    No offense, but if you are a Transgendered parent with young children, then you need to suck it up and not transition for the sake of your kids’ sanity. Yes. Stay hidden, don’t mess up your child’s brain over your selfish insecurity and desire to change your normal healthy body to appear more like the opposite sex. I know that you were spoiled as a child and your mama let you have everything, but just grow up and raise your children correctly (and identify as your biological sex).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.