About Randall Ehrbar, PsyD

Randall Ehrbar, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist who has focused on supporting trans people and their families throughout his career, for which he was named a Fellow at the American Psychological Association. He has also been actively involved in the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) and in revision of their Standards of Care for the health of trans people. He currently lives and works in the Washington, DC area and is proud to be called "Dad" by his children.

Strategies for Transgender Parents to Support Their Children

Most mommies are girls. Most daddies are boys. But a lot of parents are neither a boy nor a girl. Like my Maddy. This excerpt from the Note to Readers in Magination Press book, My Maddy, by Gayle E. Pitman, PhD, was written by Dr. Randall D. Ehrbar, PsyD. It provides information for transgender and gender diverse parents about how they can support their children.   A Maddy is a parent who is in some ways a blend of a Mommy and a Daddy, and is also a unique kind of parent, just as the word “Maddy,” blends the words “Mommy” and “Daddy” to make a new word. Maddy is used in some families to describe a parent who is transgender or gender diverse. Gender identities like this are often referred to as “non-binary” in that they are gender identities beyond two genders (male and female) that most people are familiar with. Some trans people have non-binary identities, while others have more binary gender identities and identify as male/men or female/women. Discussing gender identity with your child It is important to discuss parents’ gender identities in an age-appropriate way focused on your child’s needs.  Use age-appropriate language, answer questions honestly and simply, and find any answers you don’t know.  Discussing details about gender affirming medical treatment may be overwhelming for young children who do not ask for more information. In terms of timing of coming out, preschool-age children seem to adapt to their parent’s transition best, then adult children, and adolescents often have the hardest time adjusting. When a parent transitions In some families a parent “comes out” as trans after the family has been formed and children are already included in the family. A parent’s transition can be a challenging time for children, who may have feelings of grief for how their parent looked prior to coming out. Children may be unsure what their parent’s transition means for their relationship with their parent. The children and family members are also going through a process of transition or transformation. As a parent transitions in your family: Emphasize that they are still the child’s parent. It’s important to let kids know through words and actions that no matter what, they are still the child’s parent. Ideally it helps if spouses and co-parents can present a united front to affirm that the transgender or gender diverse parent will continue to be the child’s parent. Find terms that are comfortable for you and your child. When a parent transitions, children are faced with adjusting how they refer to their parent, which can take practice and evolve over time. It’s important not to rush children to give up familiar terms for a loving parent-child bond; it may be important for children to still call their parent “mommy” or “daddy” for their own comfort and consistency. If a parent who transitions is no longer comfortable with previous labels, the family may move away from them. Children and parents may decide to change titles to those

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Strategies for Transgender Parents to Support Their Children 2020-06-17T20:28:54-04:00