Parents of trans* children

Hi Readers!

In this week’s article I would like to focus on the needs of the parents of trans* children. We mostly focus on the child going through a transition and the impacts and effects it has on their lives – and rightly so! They are the ones that have to deal with a lot of opinions (which they did not ask for), looks, questions, etc. But we also need to think about the parents of these children. They too will get those looks, questions, opinions, etc. They also have needs and will want and need to be supported. 

If you have a friend or family member going through this transition, keep these tips in mind as your friend or relative might not be ready to speak to a Sexologist or Psychologist yet, but they will really appreciate your support. And if you, reader, are a parent of a trans* child, know that I am here for you.

When they’re ready, these parents will want to talk through the experiences and prejudices they are facing as they go through this journey with their child. Lend an ear. Listen to them, hear what they are saying. You will learn so much about what a parent and child are going through during this time. This may also be helpful if you want to be an ally and explain to others that are around this family how they can help rather than being judgmental. 

If you are not equipped with this information, you may want to help them find the information they need about trans*, the different terms, information and clarifications on the steps there child will be going through, deconstruct and demystify all the myths around trans*. In the UK, Mermaids has existed since 1995 to support trans and gender-diverse children.

Parents may want to have discussions with the school and other environments their child may come across to make sure it is a smooth transition and that it is a safe environment for their child. 

Parents of trans* children may feel a sense of guilt, questioning their parenting skills, etc. They will want to talk about their own feelings regarding this; people’s judgement, gaze, questions, concerns, etc. There will also be a stage when they will talk about their child’s future, how they see their child, etc. All you need to do is be supportive and listen. Be present! Show up for your friend or relative.

All parents react differently. In some cases, one of the two parents may be in complete shock and may not want to hear, participate or accept any of this and it can be an additional barrier for the parent and the child. 

When a child is going through a transition, the parents also have to deal with questions from family members and friends and they often find themselves explaining what’s going on repeatedly. This can be tiring and frustrating. So, if you are a family member or friend of parents of trans* children, please be respectful. Give them space. Let them know that you are there for them (if you are actually there for them and not just wanting information…) Just knowing that they have a support system will help a lot. 

There will be a grieving phase as they are losing a child and gaining another. Even though that child may still like the same things, have the same personality, it is not the child that they brought into the world. It is all part of the process. 

And don’t forget that even during all of this and while working through their own feelings, questions and emotions, they will have to support their child and be with them through their process. 

If you are a parent of a trans* child and would like to talk, please contact to set up an appointment. 

If you need any additional information, please contact me on depetrillojulia@gmail.com

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

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Talking to children about consent

Hi Readers!

Do you like fries? I love fries! I promise this is relevant. Today we are going to talk about consent; more specifically, why it’s important to teach children about consent from a young age. I will give you some tips on how to do it.

Consent is when someone is explicitly agreeing (by choice) to an experience, whether it is sexual, touching, kissing or hugging. Every person has the freedom and capacity to make that choice.

So… going back to my F-R-I-E-S.1Consent has to be:

F reely given (the person doesn’t feel pressured, coerced or obliged to say yes);

R eversible (the person can change their mind in the middle of the experience and that doing so is their right);

I nformed (knowing all of the facts before agreeing to something);

E nthusiastic (the person is happy to say yes, there is no confusion or doubt);

S pecific (the person is agreeing to something specific; if there is something else involved they must explicitly agree to that, too).  

Now that you know how important consent is, you should think about this framework every time you give consent and feel confident and enthusiastic about saying yes. But, if you have answered no to any of the statements above you should not be giving your consent as you probably don’t know enough about the situation or don’t feel comfortable.

Clearly, explaining F-R-I-E-S to toddlers and very young children may not be that easy. I suggest you try explaining it to them as simply as possible; you know your child, children or your classroom best. Kids also learn through experience, so giving examples and going through this more than once will be beneficial.

Respect a child’s wishes when it comes to hugging, kissing, cuddling and tickling. The only exceptions are in matters of safety; for example, if a child needs to be restrained from hurting themselves or others. The big example here is ensuring that they are not forced to hug or kiss anyone, even grandma. Children need to choose their level of contact based on their level of comfort. While this may sound outrageous to some, as we usually greet people (especially grandma) with a hug and/or a kiss, why should we force children to say hello in this way or do anything else if they do not feel comfortable? To do so is to teach a child that a familiar person can touch them even if they don’t want them to and could lead to a child being unsure of what to do in an inappropriate situation. This completely goes against the F-R-I-E-S concept and the definition of consent.

If a child doesn’t want to greet someone with a kiss or a hug, teach them to ask for a high-five or a fist bump. And if that still makes them feel uncomfortable, a wave and a smile is perfectly fine, too! As long as your children are respectful and kind to others, does it really matter?

It is normal for children to want their own space sometimes and children are also allowed to set their own boundaries.

It is important to teach children the correct language for their body parts. I know it can feel embarrassing but using code words with you child (usually said in a lower voice) will in turn make you child feel embarrassed about using the appropriate words. We should be breaking the stigmas surrounding body parts by using their actual names. This also avoids any misunderstandings, especially if they need to tell an adult that something happened to them.

It is important to teach children that their bodies are their own and that no one has the right to touch them unless they ask for help. For example while toilet training, children may need help wiping their bum. It is important to start a habit of asking the child “would you like some help?” Look, I get it, most of the time it’s easier for an adult to clean up as the child may make more of a “mess” but this is how we learn, right?

Even if it is something as simple as adjusting a piece of clothing or cleaning their face because they have something on it, ask them first! Empower your child to make that choice. Obviously if they are harming themselves or someone else, you need to act fast! Use common sense.

Even though you shouldn’t have to, as a parent, you may find yourself having to explain to your friends and family that you are teaching your child about boundaries and consent if your child chooses to greets them with a high five. Might I suggest you send them this post and I’ll explain it to them for you.

Teaching the importance of reporting

You must teach your children that if someone violates their body, touches them inappropriately or crosses their boundaries, it is not their fault and that they need to tell an adult. Explain why it is important by going through the F-R-I-E-S concept.

These are lessons and reminders that need to be given often, consent is not a one-and-done concept. Many children know that they should immediately report to an adult they trust. That being said, it is important to continue having these discussions with your older children and teens as they may need reminding about what is not okay and who they can speak to about a violation of their privacy, body and boundaries.

Please take a few minutes to watch this video about consent for kids (and here’s one for adults too) and share it with your kids, family and friends. It is very easy for kids to understand this video but they may have some questions or you may wish to quiz them to make sure they understood what all this means.

If you have any more questions please contact me via email at depetrillojulia@gmail.com

Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist

1Planned Parenthood https://www.plannedparenthood.org/

Inclusive reads for children

Hi Readers!

I have put together a list of books covering the topics of diversity, sexuality, and inclusiveness that I think are great introductions and conversation starters. They make for great gifts for your children, nieces, nephews, students, neighbors, friends or grandchildren. And for you teachers out there, why not add these to your classroom library! If you are the person who is reading the book to the child, you will also get the benefit of learning something new and if you are just buying it for someone, maybe sneak in a cheeky read before you gift it!

The list contains 17 books about diversity, inclusivity & LGBTQ+ with a link to my affiliate amazon page. This means if you buy the book with this link, I will receive a small percentage. (No extra cost to you) This is but a small list of all the books that are out there. A lot of these books are also available on Kindle.

Ballerina Dreams by Michaela DePrince

King of the Classroom by Derrick Barnes

Wilma Rudolph: My First Wilma Rudolph by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Rosa Parks: My First Rosa Parks by Frances Lincoln

We are all welcome by Alexandra Penfold

The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad

Martin Luther King Jr. by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Diwali (celebrate the world) by Hannah Eliot

I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

– Nelson Mandela
Here is another blog post on diversity and media

Knowledge is power. Be kind to one another!

Julia, Sexologist