Resources for helping a young trans man in the family
September 6, 2014 7:03 PM   Subscribe

My 13 year old nephew's just come out (only to his best friend and mother so far) as trans and seems relieved and happier. I'm terribly happier for him; it's been a rough couple of years for reasons beyond normal early adolescence. How can I best support him?

[Continued from preview] Some internet communities (tumblr-hosted in particular) have been helpful for my nephew. I'm awfully happy for him and want to be a help however I can.

Almost all my relevant knowledge is abstract or discoursive, and well, it's been a long time since I've been that age. That is to say, I probably don't need a general purpose political 101 but also don't have any near-and-dear who can weigh in with lived experience.

Can anyone point me to any resources that can educate me or even give me ideas for a kindness I can do my nephew? He's not, AFAIK, in particular kind of distress, but I'd surely like to let him know I'm in his corner. If it helps, he's fairly nerdy, quite intelligent, doesn't have a large social group, and has had some family upheaval in the last few years.
posted by The Gaffer to Human Relations (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You might want to start with the Family Acceptance Project, which has tons of research and resources on how best to support this young person.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:15 PM on September 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

PFLAG too.
posted by brujita at 7:25 PM on September 6, 2014

If you happen to be in the Portland area, TransActive is a great resource.
posted by blueberry at 7:48 PM on September 6, 2014

Matt Kailey's blog Tranifesto has some good FAQS if you have trans-specific questions. My mom found it helpful when I came out; he has also written a short book for families of trans people if anyone in the family needs help coping. The blog itself was mostly an advice column with really solid advice, and both of you might like to browse the archives.

If you want to take him back to school shopping for non-girl clothes, he might really appreciate that. At that age I wanted someone who would nonjudgementally let me pick out something not from the women's section.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:48 PM on September 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

TransYouth Family Allies looks like it has some good resources.
posted by xingcat at 8:43 PM on September 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Your intentions are loving, you have a familial bond with him and you seem completely open to learning how best to help your nephew. That is amazing! Listen to everyone else's advice, but know that even if you say all the wrong things and do all the wrong stuff, you're still doing good.

Play the role of non-judgemental oasis.

I can't overstate how beneficial it is to kids who are going through tough times to spend a week or two in the summer or over winter vacation just visiting with someone who just loves them. He can fill you in on what's going on with him, and he can tell you how he'd like you to adjust your interactions with him but that's secondary.

Let him relax. Listen to him. Show him your daily routine and all of its quirks. Let him have a meltdown and let him apologize. Love him so much that you look forward to next year.

Seriously, for smart, caring adults, the best thing you can do for any kid is a consistent week or two per year until they're 18.
posted by sleepy psychonaut at 9:02 PM on September 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Treat him like a 13 year old nephew. Hang out with him, talk to him about the cool new game that just came out, give him gift cards to fast food joints. Someone can be one thing that does not make them all of that one thing. Treat him as a person and not as a trans teen. He will know that you are in his corner because you are in his corner. Kids aren't dumb.
posted by myselfasme at 9:31 PM on September 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

You don't mention how you know that he's come out—did he come out to you in addition to his mother and best friend, or did one of them tell you? If one of them told you, you may want to have a conversation with them about whether or not it was alright with your nephew for them to tell you/anyone else they may have told and if not, make sure that they leave the coming out to him in the future.

Also, I'd second that taking him shopping for clothes that he feels comfortable in would likely be welcome. Especially if he's not publicly presenting as male yet, it can be scary and awkward to shop for clothes in the men's section alone.

And if you have a close enough relationship with him, just congratulate him on having the courage and self-awareness to come out and ask him what, if anything, you can do. He may not have anything that he needs from you right now, but it'll probably be nice to know that you'll be around if he ever does need something.

I came out as trans when I was a couple of years older than him (15) and could ramble for quite some time about things that family members did an awesome job on and things that I wish they'd done differently. Feel free to memail me if you want.
posted by cheerwine at 11:23 PM on September 6, 2014 [6 favorites]

Oh, and if he's in the US, check out Trans Across America. It's a work in progress, but shaping up to be a great map of resources (support groups, community centers, trans-friendly doctors, etc.) across the country.
posted by cheerwine at 11:26 PM on September 6, 2014

If you are in or near New York City, you should come to the monthly TransParents Project meetings. They are not just for parents -- other family members and friends of trans people are welcome.
posted by merejane at 8:14 AM on September 7, 2014

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