The hardest part of talking to my kid about binding was...

From parents of kids who bind: The hardest part of talking to my child about binding was…

I have discussed binding with many concerned parents and I have listened to the frustrations of many young people at odds with their parents over the decision to bind, but I am not a parent. So, I asked parents to share the hardest part of talking to their child about binding. Here’s what they said and a little advice from me if you are feeling the same way…

“Worrying about anatomical effects of binding on breathing muscles and ribs. He often had chest pain, and I felt pretty useless to do anything to help.”

Of course, you are worried. It’s your job as a parent and feeling helpless is one of the worst feelings in the world. Please do your best not to lead with your worries, try to enter the conversation with empathy for what they are going through. The concerns can come later.

I had to accept that binding was necessary first before I could help my kid get the binders they needed. I wish I had been more knowledgeable or at least aware of what it means to be trans-masculine. ”

This step is a turning point in the conversation. The resistance you feel to your kid’s gender exploration and identity will shut down open dialogue. Learn as much as you can about what they are going through and then return to the conversation.

“[Finally understanding] the tradeoff between using binding to manage dysphoria and the need to maintain a healthy chest and lungs.”

Weighing consequences is your job as the person with the older, wiser brain but your kids lived experience is important. Ultimately, the goal is to figure out a balance that allows them to thrive physically, emotionally, and socially so they can develop into a healthy adult. Like so many things in life, it’s all about balance.

“Getting him to talk to me. He had been hiding it due to negative reactions from his siblings.”

It is human nature to learn from bad experiences and apply those lessons to future interactions. Their unwillingness to talk to you may not be about you at all. The best thing you can do is show that you are open and supportive. Leave breadcrumbs by talking casually about trans people in the media. Or, make the first move and ask if they’ve ever considered binding. 

“Wishing they could love the body they have.”

This is such a hard part of supporting your kid through their gender journey. You’ve looked at that little body as perfect since the first day you saw it and you need to make space for yourself to grieve what it means for you to let go of your idea of perfect. You want them to love the body they have- YES!- and helping it align with who they are inside is exactly the way to do that.

Letting my child lead me since they had done their homework and I knew nothing about it.”

Let’s face it, your kid has probably spent more time thinking about this than you have. Turning the tables in the discussion can be a powerful tool- let them educate you before you try to introduce your concerns.

“Body positivity. Don’t assume that they are unhappy with their body just because they are trans. ”

More kids than ever are getting the message that it is ok to express themselves in whatever way feels best to them. Some parents make the mistake of assuming that their kid hates their body when, actually, they have been able to grow up in a world where they love their trans body. Take the win! You have done something right in how you’ve raised them and now is the moment to lean into their happiness. 

Help For Parents

If you are looking for more guidance on binding health specifically, consider a coaching session to address your unique concerns and gather your thoughts before you start the conversation.

Check out organizations like PFLAG and TransFamilies to join a support group with other parents navigating the same issues.

Get in-depth parenting advice from Strong Family Alliance in their 3-part series What Should I Do When My Child Doesn’t Want to Talk?  

Give Advice To Other Parents

Are you a parent of a child who chest binds? You can help other parents by taking our survey about being a caregiver to a kid who binds. When you take the survey, you’ll help me to help parents be better able to support their own kids with less anxiety.

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