When you have a child, you realize the instant they are born that your love for them is unconditional. And as they grow up, you begin to understand that children are unpredictable and surprising. However, when the child you have always known as your son tells you that they were meant to be a daughter and are transgender, you may not know what to do. After all, the feeling of being in the wrong body is unfamiliar to you. Furthermore, you do not know what the future holds for your daughter as she transitions from a male body to a female one. Get to know more about the transition process so that you can better understand and support your transgender daughter as she goes through her transition.
Psychological Therapy and Hormone Therapy
When your daughter begins her transition, it starts with psychological therapy. In order for a person to legally obtain the hormones necessary to transition from one sex to the other (in the case of your daughter, estrogen), they must be evaluated by a counselor or psychologist.
The reasons behind this are entirely for the mental health and safety of your child. Their counselor will ensure that they are indeed transgender and not suffering from a mental health disorder instead. However, this is usually not the primary purpose of therapy. Instead it is to be sure that your child is ready for the transition process and all of the emotional and psychological struggles they may go through as a result. Being accepted by family, friends, and society is often a concern for people transitioning, for example.
Once your child is cleared to begin the transition process, they will go to a physician to have a physical exam and lab tests. As long as they are healthy enough to do so, they can then begin hormone therapy (hormone injections). Adding estrogen into the body will simultaneously reduce the production of testosterone and help your child to begin to look and sound more feminine. Regular checks with the doctor will test hormone levels throughout this process and ensure that the hormone therapy is not adversely affecting your child's health.
Because your child will essentially be going through puberty all over again, they will need and want your emotional support and understanding. Their moods may be volatile, they may get acne, and will often feel physical aches and pains akin to growing pains (but caused by the changes occurring inside and outside the body). Your support and understanding will go a long way to helping them handle these changes successfully.
Cosmetic and Other Surgical Procedures
Once your child has been on their hormones for a while, they will likely want to continue the transition process with surgery. Many of these surgical procedures are cosmetic in nature to help your child look more like a woman.
Breast augmentation is one of the most noticeable cosmetic changes that your daughter will likely go through. The implants, if they choose to get them, will give your daughter a more feminine figure. These implants often look more authentic after your child has been taking hormones for several months or even a few years so that their breast tissue has further developed on its own as well.
Other cosmetic procedures include the reshaping and reduction of the jaw, shaving down the Adam's apple, laser hair removal, and other facial cosmetic surgeries. However, not all procedures are entirely cosmetic. Gender reassignment surgery is the final step in the physical transition from male to female. The testes are removed during this surgical procedure and the penis is reshaped and reformed to create a vagina. This is by far and away the most extensive physical procedure your child may go through and will require extensive recovery.
Being there for your child as they go through surgery, both as mental and emotional support as well as to help them physically recover from surgery, will ensure that they are safe and stable in their transition.
Now that you better understand the transition process that your transgender child will be going through, you can better provide them with the care and support they need. To learn more about these surgical procedures and the transition process, talk to a plastic surgeon, like those at Laufer Institute of Plastic Surgery.