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Supportive Austrian Family

I had a heartwarming encounter recently with a family from rural Austria. Their young son has taken a liking to traditional Austrian girls' dresses and expressed his desire to live as a girl. His loving parents, eager to understand and support their child, reached out to me for guidance on navigating these uncharted waters.

It is truly moving to see parents stepping forward with open minds and hearts, seeking knowledge instead of resorting to judgment or denial. Their love for their son is unconditional, and their willingness to understand his identity reflects the true essence of parenthood.

Their son might be expressing early signs of being transgender, or he may be exploring his identity in a broader sense. It's crucial to note that, at this stage, nothing is set in stone. He may indeed grow up to identify as a woman, or he may decide to remain a boy.

Here are a few steps that can guide these parents, and others in similar situations, on how to support their child:

1. Listen: Give your child a safe space to express themselves freely. Validate their feelings and assure them that it's okay to explore their identity.

2. Educate Yourself and Others: Learn about gender identities and the spectrum it encompasses. Sharing this knowledge with family, friends, and the village will foster understanding and empathy. (For example, the @HOSI Salzburg can help.)

3. Seek Professional Guidance for your child: A psychologist who specializes in gender can be a great help in navigating this journey. They can provide your child with the support they need and help you understand what your child is going through.

4. Seek Professional Guidance for yourself: Specialised Counsellors and charities are good supporters.

5. Be Patient: This is a journey of self-discovery, and it may take time for your child to understand their own identity fully. Be patient and supportive throughout the process.

6. Stand Up for Your Child: There may be times when your child faces judgment or discrimination. Be their strongest ally, advocating for them when necessary and reassuring them that their identity is valid.

In the end, remember that each child's happiness and well-being should be our top priority. In understanding and embracing their son's identity, these parents are setting a wonderful example of unconditional love and acceptance. Let's stand with them and with every child in their journey towards self-discovery.

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