How To Manage Your Emotions Now You Know Your Parent Is Transgender

Being told that your parent is transgender and going to undergo gender reassignment is a traumatic conversation to be having with your parent. If there were no warning signs that this might be on the horizon this may leave you feeling as if you family is balancing on a knife edge.

The media talks a lot about how we should be understanding and flexible about gender issues and they are absolutely correct. However, what they don’t take into consideration is the human element in this. In our heads we know how we should be behaving, thinking and feeling but at times like this our heart is in control.

 What the media don’t take into consideration is the connection we have with our parent and the complexity of how it is going to change. You and your parent will never truly totally understand how you both feel. 

How can we? We are different people, unique and probably haven’t experienced a situation like this before.

I talked in my previous blog, “Transgender Parent. Now You Know What Are You Going To Do” , about the questions you might need to ask to find out more information about life, long term for you and your family.

You may have already talked to friends and other family members about this. If so, I hope that it helped. It is, however, very easy for people who haven’t been in this situation to start saying; “They are happy and healthy aren’t they so what’s the problem?” Unfortunately, for you as a child it’s not as simple as that.

There are going to be a lot of other things to take into consideration such as:

  • Your confusion over the situation.
  • How your new relationship is going to pan out.
  • What this means for the family.
  • Feeling lonely with not knowing anyone who is in the situation.
  • You may not know how to express what you are feeling.
  • Feeling torn between the feelings for your parent as they were and who they want to be.

Where Do I Go From Here?

There is a series of things you can start to do immediately to support yourself. It probably isn’t going to be easy.  You are going to have to be extremely honest with yourself to really learn about your thoughts and feelings. 

You may not like what you discover.  You will have to learn to take this on the chin, accept them and  find ways to manage them so you don’t give yourself a life time of heart ache and regrets.

Please remember that each family has their own adaption to their situation and the support they need.  This is just a starting point for you.


Journalising is a really good way to start getting all your mixed-up thoughts out of your head.  It is rather like talking with someone without the interruptions; enabling you to explore different ideas you are having and say exactly what you want to say to yourself.  It is important not to hold back. 

You may not like what you are thinking and feeling but if you don’t write them down, they will continue to whirl around in your head.  Give yourself time to do this and not to rush the system because it can be time consuming, but it is worth putting the time in. 

Within in a few days you will soon start to feel the difference just being able to download.  The great thing is it will free up space in your head for more constructive things and you can revisit it if you want.  However, there are some rules:

  • Be totally honest with yourself. If needs be write down how hard it is to be totally honest.
  • Write feely and don’t worry about grammar, being politically correct or your punctuation. You are not at school; nobody is going to read it except you.  Just write openly, honestly and freely.
  • Put your journal somewhere safe so nobody can take a sneak preview when you are out.

Be Brave and Dig Deep

Whilst you are journalising or thinking through your thoughts and feelings you need to start asking yourself some searching questions.  This is the time for being brave because you may not like the answers you are coming up with.

However, it is the only way you are going to really start sorting out where your head and heart is at.  It is time to stop sweeping things under the carpet and start being accountable to them. Start asking yourself the why, how and what questions, e.g.:

  • Why am I feeling like this?
  • How is this going to help me and my relationship?
  • How do I want to be feeling instead?
  • What am I going to do about it?

And then the all-important question.

  • If I don’t do anything about this what are the long-term implications?

Be Patient

You may feel pressured to start calling your parent by their new pronouns and new name and you are probably going to want to get it right immediately.  I hear a lot of parents and partners of trans people being tough on themselves even after only a few weeks to get the terminology right. 

You have to remember that they have been dreaming of the day they can change their name and the pronoun they wish to be addressed by.  You on the other hand must catch up with their process and it is going to take time.  It’s rather like when you try writing your name with your non dominant hand. 

You know your name, you know how to spell it but it feels awkward and it looks like a child has written it.  If you persist though, you will eventually write with control and it will begin to feel more, normal.

Writing your name with your non dominant hand is a laugh and a bit of fun but using the right name and pronouns is more serious. You will not get it right immediately and maybe for a long time.

This is not you being malicious or mean.  This is perfectly understandable.  You have been calling your parent Mum or Dad, for example, for many years and that will be deep rooted in your subconscious. 

If you get it wrong simple apologise.  You can always explain that you find it difficult to get it right.  Over time this will get easier but please don’t be hard on yourself even if this goes on for many years.

For me, thirty years on occasionally I would call Joan Dad.  I would apologies and we would move on.

Bag It Up and Step Back

It is very easy for this change in your life to totally consume you.  This, if you are not careful will infect everything you do.  Where possible try to distance yourself from it to give yourself a break from your troublesome thoughts and feelings. 

You need to have time so that you can feel normal, like you, getting on with your life.  A really good way of doing this is bag it or box it up. 

This is often called parking it; confining the particular thoughts and feelings.  Here is the 5 step process.

  • Imagine everything about your bag or box. What does it look like? Decide how big it is, what it’s made of, what colour it is, how it opens and closes, how to lock it.  You can always change it later if it isn’t fit for purpose and make it more user friendly for yourself.
  • Imagine putting the thoughts and feelings that are playing havoc with your mind into your bag or box.
  • Imagine closing that bag or box and making it really secure.
  • Imagine where you are going to store your bag or box. Make it somewhere safe but where you can get to it easily if you wanted to.
  • f, and this is really important, those thoughts and feelings try to escape from you bag or box tell those thoughts and feelings to get back where they belong, saying why and secure them in again. If they keep escaping redesign your bag or box so it is more secure.

Now you are free to start get on with life and leave those thoughts and feelings behind you.

Have Some Fun

It is now time to give yourself some time off, go and have some fun.  Meet your friends, talk and think about different things. Be your true authentic self.

By implementing these steps, you will soon start to notice a change in your thoughts and feelings.  They will become more manageable and give you that sense of control back into your life.  That knife edge you may have been feeling with change to something far less frightening.

As an added support why not grab your free copy of my latest report:

Steps To Managing your Emotional Balance.

Remember you are not alone.


About the Author

Cath Lloyd

British TEDx Speaker, life coach and author of “When Dad Became Joan” with her second booking coming out at the end of 2023, Cath Lloyd was a shy and unconfident student at school. Learning from her life experiences has developed her confidence, enabling her to share her voice, ideas, thoughts and feelings.

Cath has spoken on local radio, Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour as well as many podcast shows. Cath is promoting the importance of self-honesty to learn and understand yourself. The other is, communication is one of the keys to keeping your emotional, mental, and physical balance and keeping family life running more smoothly.

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