Parenting a gender-diverse child is not an easy task. Especially since it might leave parents with a lot of questions and concerns for their child’s wellbeing. According to research, we are born with gender, and it can’t be changed by any interventions. The reality is that it can be scary for families to learn that their child is gender-diverse. However, the more we embrace diversity, learn, and show unwavering support, the more we help gender-diverse children thrive as their authentic selves. 

Parents of gender-diverse children might understand the cause that led their children to identify with a different gender. No evidence shows that a child having a different gender identity than the one assigned at birth is a result of parenting or childhood trauma. For parents, it is not easy having their children seen differently. Consequently knowing that this may contribute to teasing or bullying. 

Parents may also feel lost if their gender-diverse children are really distressed about puberty. This is especially common among those who were assigned female at birth and get their period. Parents of gender-diverse children may struggle with understanding available treatments and processes. Parents consider the siblings adapting to gender-diverse changes, which can be challenging for them. Additionally, parents would also need to handle other people’s reactions to their child’s gender identity. As well as be careful whether to tell other people and how to tell them. When strangers comment on their child’s appearance or behaviour parents might feel uncomfortable and might need to think in advance of what to say. 

Opportunity for Growth

At the same time, it can also be a positive and uplifting experience. Parenting a gender-diverse child presents unique opportunities for growth and development. Moreover, it is reassuring to know that these children do well when they are supported by their parents, family and communities. Children learn from their parents, but they present their parents with opportunities to learn and grow. In fact, for many parents, this experience inspires positive transformation and growth. One way of determining this is based on parents’ interactions with their children. This increases cognitive flexibility and creativity, their emotional sensitivity, and their attentiveness to personal values. Parents may perceive personal growth in themselves as they become more open-minded and learn new perspectives. Additionally, they acquire greater knowledge and awareness of discrimination and develop deeper compassion. A study by Gonzalez et al. (2012) has also found that most parents report enhanced positive feelings for their child. Including a sense of pride in the child and feelings of unconditional love. 


Activism, such as fighting for equality through advocacy and providing social support to other parents, is also very common among parents of gender-diverse children. This gives most parents a new purpose in their lives as it is very likely that their children will prompt them to engage, take a stand, and join in the fight for LGBTQ equality at local and national levels. On a final note, parents of gender-diverse children should seek to focus on the gains rather than the losses and seek support whenever they feel stuck.

The Willingness team is part of the Gender 101 project, which aims to Develop Innovative Tools for Gender Diversity for Parents and Adult Educators. 

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Johanna Cutajar is a Master in Counselling graduate from the University of Malta. She works with children and adolescents as a counsellor within the education sector on a variety of issues including relationship issues, trauma, bereavement, transitions, and general mental health.


Gonzalez, K.A., Rostosky, S.S., Odom, R.D., and Riggle, E.D.B. (2012). The Positive Aspects of Being the Parent of an LGBTQ Child. Retrieved from