Washington Post’s Petrow on Supporting a Transgender Child

July 7, 2014 by Hayley Miller, Digital Media Associate

In this week’s advice column for The Washington Post, Steven Petrow took on questions regarding a parent’s transgender child.

An anonymous parent asked:


Dear Civilities: I have a lesbian daughter who has just come out as a transgender man. I will be introducing him as my child in our city’s pride celebration later this summer. How exactly should I do that? Do I say: “This is my transgender son?” or “This is my transgender daughter?” I’m sorry if I sound confused, but I want to make the correct introduction to my friends that also have gay children. — Name withheld

Petrow gives the parent a few pieces of advice. The first is to simply ask your child what pronoun they prefer. The parent can then also decide for this specific pride event which pronouns to use (if the parent shares their child’s transition history) versus the pronoun to use on an everyday bases. Petrow recommends using “he” in this case.

Petrow also addresses the issue of sexual orientation. In this question, the parent says the child is “lesbian” at the beginning and then uses the term “gay” at the end. Petrow reminds the parent that  the child might no longer consider himself homosexual. Petrow writes, “Sexual orientation (being gay, straight or bisexual) is different from gender identity (one’s inner sense of being male or female or somewhere else along the continuum). I know this may be confusing at first, but it’s important that supportive parents such as you not only walk the walk, but also talk the talk — accurately. This is what acceptance looks like in real time.”

Petrow, who has written on transgender issues in the past, notes that he has seen an increase in transgender-related questions over the past few months.

Continue to read Petrow’s column, Civilities, on The Washington Post.