What are the steps for
transitioning in Alberta?
There is no one path.
Each transgender or non-binary person, minor or adult, has their own path to take that is right for them. It takes time to process their thoughts and feelings. They need to mentally and emotionally process every step they may choose to take.
Depending on their age, youth especially need to be appropriately educated by professionals on the options, and learn the benefits and risks.
Children may transition socially, possibly changing their name, pronouns, what they wear or hairstyles, to name a few. Legal name and possibly gender marker changes may be considered, keeping in mind factors such as the age and preferences of the child.
For children entering puberty, parents may wish to learn about hormone blockers as puberty will push their child into body development that they may not want (deeper voice, developing breasts, growing hair in new places, or whatever other changes are expected).
That all said, the “steps” can include:
* getting educated in the options
* finding support in the trans community, whether medical or social or other
* considering finding a psychologist who works with trans adults and children
* finding affirming doctors and a clinic where there are trans or non-binary affirming practitioners to consult with
* making a tentative plan after consultation with medical professionals – but be prepared that the child may not be ready to proceed with (or may wish to change) the plan that they may have expressed or planned
It is helpful that parents find their own support as they support their children. It can helps to talk to other parents who “get it” and can offer their knowledge and experience, as well as their recommendations for what worked for their child or themselves.
Sage advice from Mama Bear Liz Dyer
Liz Dyer, Founder of Mama Bears and Serendipodydodah-Home of the Mama Bears support groups. Sept 2021.
"It's not uncommon for parents of trans kids to wonder if their kid, who has come out to them as a trans person, is "really" a trans person.
Parents often share many reasons with me why they have doubts and it's not that these parents I'm talking to are unsupportive - these are very supportive parents who are having trouble believing their kid is really a trans person because their kid didn't "show any signs" before they came out, or because their kid is not dressing the way they think a trans boy/man or trans girl/woman would dress, or because their kid is not saying what they expect a trans person to say about the way they feel.
Here's what I have been learning over the last few years from trans people, science and gender specialists:
No one can know if another person is "really" a transgender person. No one can know if another person is "really" male or female or non binary or gender queer or agender or bigender etc etc etc. A parent cannot figure this out for their child. A parent can only know what their child tells them about their gender identity.
There is not one way to be a transgender person and therefore, we have to trust our kids and accept what they tell us about their gender identity.
If they are not sure about their gender identity we should let them know there is no hurry, they can take their time in discovering their true self, we will support them through the process and they might find it helpful to talk to a counselor who is a gender specialist.
Many parents have what I call "gender expectations" and when their child doesn't meet those expectations they find it hard to understand what their child is sharing about themselves. Sometimes I even talk to trans people who are confused about their gender identity because they don't line up with the "gender expectations" they have. So, one thing I try to emphasize is that we need to stop trying to make trans people fit into binary gender boxes - that is not helpful and often times causes more confusion and delays the process of "knowing" that our kids are trying to achieve.
We also are beginning to realize that “insistent, consistent, and persistent,” while formerly helpful in determining if people are trans or not, may not be the best gauge in every situation. There are many trans people who did not present many signs (or any signs) before they came out. Some parents can look back and see signs, but others didn't see any evidence. All kinds of factors come into play when it comes to how and when a trans person shows evidence or signs of being trans ... things like personality, environment, level of gender dysphoria (which varies a lot), birth order and other factors can all play a part.
The bottom line is this:
There’s no one "right" way to be trans, no definitive set of guidelines that every trans person will follow, no definitive set of signs that a parent can look for.
And we also need to keep in mind that "transgender" is an umbrella term for the much larger gender spectrum, with an infinite number of possible combinations of identities.
One last thought ... it’s also not always the case that subtle or even obvious cues necessarily add up and mean someone is definitively transgender. There are plenty of males and females who are not trans or gender nonconforming, but by nature just seem to buck traditional or expected gender norms. There will be some people who think they are a trans person and later realize they are not a trans person and they do not fall under the transgender umbrella - instead they are just very non traditional when it come to gender expectations or what is considered to be gender norms. If your child is that person they will have to figure that out for themselves and let you know. It doesn't help your child for you to express your doubts to them. You help your child best by being supportive and believing what they tell you about themselves. If they come back to you at some point and say they were wrong you can once again support them and let them know things like: "yeah, that happens sometimes, thanks for letting me know, I'm always here for you, let me know what you need, I love you, I'm proud of you for continuing to strive to know your true self"
The best thing any of us can do, and teach our children to do, is to strive to know ourselves well ... and for most of us that will be a process that will continue throughout our whole life and that's okay."
My transgender transition tracker:
Track your truth with this schedule planner, med reminder, transition journal.
By Transtastic (publisher). 2020.
"Track your transition to your true self with this Transition Tracker!
Keep track of your medical information and medication; emotional, mental and physical changes; schedule and appointments with this stylish and portable 6" x 9" journal. Note unexpected side effects to your medications and be better prepared for your medical appointments with your doctor, therapist, and/or transition team! Weekly prompts guide you through your journey into LIVING YOUR TRUTH!"