Trans Talk: How to Talk to Your Kids About Gender Identity

A few weeks ago, I came across a children’s book called, “Jack (NOT Jackie).” This book told the story of a little girl who was so excited to have a baby sister, Jackie. As Jackie grows older, it becomes clear that she doesn’t like the same girlish things that her older sister likes which is very disappointing. Their parents, however, are understanding and supportive of Jackie’s choices. One day, Jackie insists on being called, “Jack,” instead of Jackie and announces, “I AM a BOY!” Their mom responds by saying, “Well, Jackie’s been trying to tell us that for a long time.” Eventually, big sister comes around to see the joys that can come from having a little brother. It’s a very sweet and well-done story.

As I read this story to my six-year-old, he asked a LOT of questions. It made me realize that this is a very touchy topic and I wouldn’t blame parents for wanting to avoid it out of fear of saying the wrong thing. Here are some of the questions my son asked and comments he made:

“Haha! She’s so weird!”

“She CAN’T be a BOY!”

“Wait. She IS a boy?”

“Why did his parents think he was a girl?”

Does reading that make you cringe a bit? Me too! Here’s how I responded:

“Sometimes when people are born, their outside parts don’t match their inside parts. That’s why it’s so important that we listen to people and let them tell us who they are.”

Now, I understand this is a VERY simplistic explanation of gender identity but I think that it’s sufficient for a 6-year-old. We did get into specific body parts. I explained that sometimes people are born with both girl and boy parts and sometimes people are born with parts on the outside that don’t match who they are on the inside. We don’t need to overcomplicate things but just let them know that sometimes, things aren’t always what they seem. The idea is to take away the natural fear of people who are different. When we demystify things, we take away the fear.

Using stories and metaphors can be very helpful for children as they tend to see things as very black and white. Other examples of things/people that aren’t as they appear on the outside?

I hope you find this helpful! Please feel free to comment with any questions you may have or contact me via email: Jaclyn@jaclynsnyder.com

Creating a better world for our kids together,

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Gay Christian Counseling: Reconciling Two Worlds Within

Text on Image: Stay as You Are.
Collage of Images: Same-Sex Couple with their faces touching, people looking off into the distance, hand holding, hands in an artistic pose.

No matter where you place yourself on the LGBTQ spectrum, if you also identify as a Christian, my guess is that you have probably had some difficulty reconciling your faith with your sexuality/gender identity. While there are some gay Christians who have been completely spared from that dilemma, most have not. If you or someone you care about identifies as LGBTQ and Christian there absolutely is hope for making peace with both of these identities- but where do you begin?

First Things First: Reparative Therapy is Dangerous

Reparative/Conversion Therapy is the attempt, on behalf of a counselor, to help a client change their sexual orientation or gender identity. The damage of this therapy is so profound that it has been deemed unethical by the American Psychological Association and has been made illegal in many states. For more information on this practice, read: The Lies and Dangers of Reparative Therapy.

Find a Counselor Who Will Respect Both Worlds

Counseling can be an excellent resource (if I do say so myself) for hashing-out your faith beliefs and your sexuality/gender identity. I recommend finding someone who will respect you as an LGBTQ Christian. Find a counselor who will encourage you as you find your own path on this journey. This is a very personal endeavor and you should never feel pressured to sacrifice your faith or your sexual orientation/gender identity. Consider finding someone who is relatively familiar with Christianity and knowledgable of the unique issues that come with being LGBTQ.

Research

You will hear a lot and I mean A LOT of opinions on what it means to be LGBTQ and Christian. I recommend starting with some basic research about gender and sexuality. This may help to solidify your beliefs about what is choice and what is not. Here are some helpful resources:

How Science is Helping Us Understand Gender

Gender vs. Sex: What is the Difference

Transgender Brains Are More Like Their Desired Gender from an Early Age

The Science of Sexual Orientation

Connect

You are not alone on this journey. It is so important that you connect with people who are in the same boat as you. Thanks to the internet, you can find so many great communities to join. Depending on where you live, you may also find some churches who will accept all of who you are. Here are some resources to consider:

GayChurch.org: A database that allows you to search for churches in your area. Want to know the difference between a “welcoming” church and an “affirming” one? Read: The Difference Between a Welcoming Church and an Affirming One is Huge.

Q Christian Fellowship “Join thousands of others around the world in our private, password-protected discussion forum.”

Don’t Give Up

You deserve to live an authentic life. Being a Christian and LGBTQ comes with challenges. Lucky for you, research shows that the LGBTQ community is one of the most resilient. You are strong enough to get through this but you don’t have to do it alone. Connect with others. Reach-out for help. Here are some stories that you might find inspiring:

Blue Babies Pink Logo
A Southern Coming-Out Story in 44 episodes.
Image of Book Cover for TORN: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate
Torn by Justin Lee
Book Cover of "A Christian Lesbian Journey" by Darlene Bogle
A Christian Lesbian Journey by Darlene Bogle

I hope you find these resources to be helpful!

Take Care,

Signature: Jaclyn
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The LGBTQ Guide to Handling the Holidays

Look, the holidays can be hard for everyone, but they can be especially trying for those of us who are a little extra fabulous. The holidays often come with the lovely reminder of how different we are from our families and, especially if we’re single, an extra dose of loneliness. Never fear, here are some ways to emotionally bullet proof your holiday season.

Video Meme of La Roux music video from the song, "Bulletproof." Text reads, "This time baby, I'll be bulletproof."

Celebrate With Your People

Surround yourself with people who know you and love you. The foundation, “Born This Way,” found that social support is one the most important factors contributing to resilience. Even if you don’t have the time or energy to host a party of some kind, just grabbing a cup of coffee with someone can be enough to lift your spirits. If you don’t already have a friend or two whom you can be real with, make finding community a priority.

Rethink How You Think

I recently read an excellent article that highlighted the amount of little traumas that LGBTQ individuals inflict upon ourselves just by imagining being rejected or bullied. We tell ourselves stories of future rejection before it has even happened. This is a protective mechanism but it may cause more harm than good. Brene Brown has shared the concept of changing our inner narrative in her book, “Rising Strong.” This is a book I highly recommend for LGBTQ individuals in my practice. Next time you imagine yourself being bullied or rejected, consider other storylines. Choose to consider all of the possibilities. This doesn’t mean that we throw caution to the wind, it means that we choose to not dwell on imagined negative stories. 

Be Your Own Best Friend

This is a stressful time of year for everyone but it can be especially stressful if you’re in the closet or lack family connection.  Remember that you have a choice as to how you will spend your time this season. Take care of yourself as you would a dear friend. Would you send your best friend into a situation where they would feel rejected? Would you let your best friend sit at home alone? Now, maybe self-care for you looks like staying home, and that’s ok! Just make sure that your time is filled with things that bring you joy. For the most part, you get to choose what this season will look like for you. 

Find Something Bigger Than Yourself

This is the season of giving, is it not? There’s no better time to get involved! There are so many organizations who have wonderful opportunities for serving the community. Sometimes, we need a break from focusing on ourselves- especially if we are in pain. Serving others helps us to have perspective, gratitude, and increases our sense of value in the world. If you’d like to give back to the LGBTQ community here are some opportunities in the Austin area:

Cheers!

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LGBTQiA: Becoming Whole

Image: A rainbow heart made of fluorescent lights. Representing LGBTQ Pride.

Photo by Matias Rengel on Unsplash

Last Spring, I had the pleasure of working with 10 individuals in group therapy. The group was called, “LGBTQiA Spiritual Reconciliation.” The purpose of the group was to allow space for LGBTQiA individuals to process any struggles with their spirituality. My hope was that this would be a safe place for self-awareness and healing. I learned a lot from this group experience. Below are some of my take-aways from the group.

Take-Aways
  • We all want to known and loved for who we truly are.
  • Even within the LGBTQiA community, there is hate and prejudice. Find people who build you up. Cherish these people.
  • Wounds that have been inflicted by community are best healed by community, but probably not by the same community that caused them.
  • Ideally, we need to do our own inner healing work before we engage in a romantic relationship with another. Internalized homophobia is real. It hurts us and those around us too.
  • Spiritual trauma is real and it makes us feel like it’s not ok to be both LGBTQiA and religious.

Have you experienced wounding from a religious community?

Here are some things you can do:

If you connect to this article and live in the Austin or San Marcos area, I would love to work with you. My Summer group is already full but I will launch another in the Fall. Please contact me today to receive a free consultation for group, individual, or couples counseling at my office in Buda, TX.

Thanks for reading!

Take Care,

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