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Supporting Transgender and Gender-Creative Youth

Schools, Families, and Communities in Action, Revised Edition

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Edited By Elizabeth J. Meyer and Annie Pullen Sansfaçon

Supporting Transgender and Gender-Creative Youth brings together cutting-edge research, social action methods, and theory on the topic of transgender youth and gender creative kids. The chapters included specifically address issues in education, social work, medicine, and counseling as well as challenges and recommendations for families and parents. It is well researched and accessible to a broad audience of individuals invested in improving the social worlds of gender diverse children and youth.
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Chapter Eight: Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Experience of Parents of Gender-Nonconforming Boys

← 110 | 111 →CHAPTEREIGHT

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INTRODUCTION

By their varying levels of support or rejection, parents of gender-nonconforming boys1 have a significant impact on their child’s welfare.2 As a psychologist having worked with many of these families over the years, the author observed that they faced common struggles and challenges. This chapter reports on findings of a study by the author designed to contribute to our understanding of these parents’ experiences, more specifically, our understanding of the factors that may influence their responses to their child’s gender expression. The author’s objective was to explore how three dimensions of the parental experience are related to one another: (1) how they explain their child’s gender expression, in other words how they answer the question, “Why is my child like this?”; (2) what feelings their child’s gender expression evokes in them; and (3) what behaviors they adopt to limit or support the child’s gender expression.

The chapter begins with a brief description of the context from which the research question emerged: the ubiquitous and well-documented stigmatization these children endure and the impact on their mental health and their development. The author then explains the reason parents of boys rather than girls were chosen as the object of the study. This is followed by an overview of what previous research tells us about these parents and their responses to their child’s atypical ← 111 | 112 →gender expression. This effort to contextualize the research questions serves as an introduction for the principal aim of the chapter: to give...

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