These days, it is practically impossible not to hear about some aspect of transgender life. Whether it is the bathroom issue in North Carolina, trans people in the military, or on television, trans life has become front and center after years of marginalization.
And kids are coming out as trans at younger and younger ages, which is a good thing for them.
But what written resources are available to parents, teachers, and mental health professionals who need to support these children?
Elijah C. Nealy, a therapist and former deputy executive director of New York City’s LGBT Community Center, and himself a trans man, has written the first-ever comprehensive guide to understanding, supporting, and welcoming trans kids.
Covering everything from family life to school and mental health issues, as well as the physical, social, and emotional aspects of transition, this book is full of best practices to support trans kids.
Reviews and Endorsements:
“Here’s the book that caregivers and family members of transgender children have been waiting for. With equal measures sound scientific reasoning and genuine human compassion, Elijah Nealy provides a thoughtful roadmap for anyone trying to support our precious-- and endangered-- trans youth. An invaluable resource.” — Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders and Long Black Veil
“Elijah Nealy’s book is an incredibly complete and empathic guide to supporting gender expansive youth, their families and communities. While remaining accessible, it embraces the complexities of gender diversity, intersectionality and the role of caregivers and professionals in their lives. You will finish this book feeling equipped to be a better ally, and probably a better person.” — Jean Malpas, LMHC, LMFT, Director, Gender and Family Project, Ackerman Institute for the Family
“There could hardly be a better time for this insightful, thoughtful guide to supporting transgender children and youth.… Through vignettes illustrating common counseling situations, Nealy shares experiences with parents and teens going through the coming-out process and provides an enormous amount of guidance for those facing gender questions for themselves or family and friends. In fact, this should be considered a critical volume for anyone involved with schools or working or volunteering with children and teens.… Nealy powerfully makes the case for what can be done to ease the pain of these children. A must-read for anyone who wants to help trans youth.
” — Booklist, starred review
“Transgender Children and Youth creates space for families to gain a deeper understanding of gender diversity and provides tools to best support and affirm living authentically with unconditional love. Although every family’s journey is unique, this resource remains relevant at every stage of transition, lending honest, compassionate, and empowering insight into questions, challenges, and celebrations parents of transgender and gender-variant children experience.” — Michelle Honda-Phillips, Parent Advocate, Transgender & Gender-Expansive Youth
“In this age of ever-expanding gender creativity, every mental professional working with children and families will inevitably meet up with a transgender youth. Elijah Nealy has given us the gift of an extraordinary comprehensive, insightful, and empathic book to guide us in their care and ensure gender health for the children, families, and surrounding social world. A must read for anyone who will have a transgender child in their life.” — Diane Ehrensaft, Ph.D., author of Gender Born, Gender Made and The Gender Creative Child, Director of Mental Health, Child and Adolescent Gender Center, UC San Francisco
“Elijah Nealy, a therapist and clergyperson with substantial experience working with transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) youth, has written a very valuable book for therapists, medical clinicians, and families. This book will serve as an essential reference to assist in better care of TGNC youth, and for families to learn more and come to accept and support their TGNC children. Dr. Nealy writes about this often confusing and controversial area in a clear, lucid style, discussing the meanings of gender variations and the uses and misuses of gender identity diagnoses, providing a helpful review of the diagnostic process and caveats involved. The very helpful vignettes he presents bring to life the various topics with insightful suggestions and practical examples - even a top 10 list! I will be recommending Dr. Nealy’s contribution to my trainees, families, and colleagues.” — Richard R. Pleak, MD, Founding Member, Center for Transgender Health, Northwell Health
“Nealy’s writing is both profound and personal, offering readers an enormous amount of solid information along with deep insights and suggestions that everyone in our society needs to challenge our traditional oversimplified, bifurcated understanding of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Nealy draws you in with clear and honest personal exploration of the clinical dilemmas in working with children, their families and the systems in which they are embedded.” — Monica McGoldrick, MSW, PhD (h.c.), Director, Multicultural Family Institute
Part 1: Foundations for Understanding Transgender Youth
1. Talking Trans: Basic Terms and Vocabulary
2. Gender Diversity and Gender Dysphoria
3. Trans Kids in Therapy
4. When a Young Person Comes Out: Disclosure and Social Transition
5. Medical Transition
6. Transgender Adolescents
Part 2: Trans Youth and the World Around Them
7. Helping Families
8. Beyond Help to a Deeper Understanding
9. All About School
10. Beyond Coming Out: Living a Life
11. Preparing for College and Work
Part 3: Supporting Trans Youth
12. The Mental Health Professional
13. Top 10 Life-Affirming Practices for Adults in the Lives of Trans Kids
Appendix A. Legal Issues
Appendix B. Resources
Appendix C. Sample Mental Health Letters
About the Author:
Elijah C. Nealy, PhD, MDiv, LCSW, is assistant professor in the Department of Social Work and Latino Community Practice at the University of Saint Joseph in Hartford, Connecticut.