The process of working out your gender, as well as telling your family, can be a tricky one. Sometimes our family and wider whānau struggle to understand or accept this too. Sometimes they really want to support us, but they don’t know the right words, or have a really good way to think about it yet.
These are excerpts from a collection of reading material and videos for you and your whānau, which might help to make the process easier. If you need to talk or have any questions, please get in touch.
Trans 101: Glossary of trans words and how to use them
Aotearoa New Zealand’s definitive transgender 101, written by professional transgender advocates with input from hundreds of transgender people. Gender Minorities Aotearoa acknowledges that language is always evolving, thus some of the terms here will not fit with how people know themselves to be. This glossary is a 101 guide only, please see links at the bottom of our glossary web page for other glossaries and interpretations of gender language.
Help! Is my Child Transgender?
Most young people will transition socially before anything else. This may involve things like changing their name, their hair, and their clothing. It might even mean redecorating their bedroom. This is something they can easily do without making any commitment to future changes.
Being able to socially transition is a huge relief to a transgender person, who has typically been living under enormous amounts of stress, anxiety, and often depression and suicidal feelings. 71% of trans people live with ‘high’ or ‘very high’ psychological distress, 9 times the rate of the general population. More than 1 in 3 attempt suicide at some point. You can have a big impact on your child’s life – most young trans people report dramatically improved mental health, stability, sense of self worth, and relationships with family if their family are supportive.
What are Affirming Parenting Practices?
Parenting practices that are based on affirming a child’s own sense of gender strengthen a child’s self-esteem and sense of self worth. While some of the parenting practices discussed in this section may be challenging for some parents to implement, it is important to take whatever steps you can to demonstrate to your child that you are with them on this journey.
Takatāpui: Part of the Whānau
Gender and sexual stereotypes impact negatively on all Māori but have a heightened risk for takatāpui. Ideas that takatāpui can be ‘turned straight’ or could ‘choose to be normal’ are direct insults to the wairua we inherit from our tūpuna.
All of our whānau are affected when disconnection and discrimination leads takatāpui to isolation, addictions, unwanted sex and pregnancies, depression, self-harm and suicide. It may be uncomfortable to talk about these things and acceptance of takatāpui might mean going against the teachings of your church. What is more uncomfortable is standing at the tangi of takatāpui in your whānau who have taken their own life because they could not be who they are.
Be an Ally:
Stand up for takatāpui especially if you know they are experiencing discrimination from the whānau or their school, workplace, marae or church. Whether they come to you or you become aware of issues, step in and say something. You may be saving their life.
Transgender NZ: Hormone Replacement Therapy 101
GnRH blockers – or ‘puberty blockers’, pause puberty changes from happening. These are generally Leuprolide (leucrin, lucrin,or lupron) injection, every 1-12 months, or Goserelin (Zoladex) chip implant. These are generally prescribed to people under the age of 16, but not to adults as there are issues with subsidisation funding.
Anti-androgens – or ‘T blockers’ , stop your testosterone production, or stop your testosterone from affecting you. These daily pills, usually Cyproterone, or Spirolactone. Cyproterone and Spirolactone are quite different to each other, so talk with your provider about the different effects and side effects.
What physical changes can I expect over time?
The next two pages show the main changes which you need to be aware of before discussing with your provider…
Yellow for Hermaphrodite – Mani’s Story
This documentary traces the life of intersex activist Mani Mitchell. ‘Intersexual’ is a term to describe a person with atypical combinations of the biological features that usually distinguish males from females.
Mitchell’s harrowing but ultimately inspiring story is told via candid and articulate interviews, as Mitchell talks about being made a “hospital freak show tour” by doctors, and growing up secretly ‘middlesex’. The Dominion Post’s Jane Bowron called Mani’s Story “one of the great survivor stories”. It won the 2004 Qantas Media Award for Best Documentary.
LGBTQI+ Aotearoa Then & Now
A documentary film about a small group of LGBT youths from Gisborne New Zealand who go back in time, 30 years ago, when the Homosexual Law Reform Bill was being pushed through parliament. What they uncover is nothing short of amazing, heart wrenching and inspirational. Hear their stories too as they share what it’s like to be LGBTI+ in Aotearoa New Zealand today.
Takatāpui – Over the Rainbow
Takatāpui – No Simple Translation
Māori culture has traditionally included and celebrated people of all genders, and their relationships to people of any gender. Māori culture includes all Māori people.
Despite Aotearoa becoming a Brittish colony in 1840, and the resulting laws and value systems being hostile to takatāpui both historically and today; tikanga Māori continues to awhi and embrace takatāpui whānau.
At it’s core, takatāpui is a Māori concept that sits within Māori culture, with it’s own history and wairua, one very different to terms such as LGBTQI+. So, there is no direct English translation, but these are some whakaaro or ideas for thought.
Takatāpui – Māori Genders
Takatāpui is used more specifically for Māori genders, such as:
Irawhiti – transgender, gender that changes, crosses over, or is associated with change.
Tāhine – similar to mixed gender, sometimes non-binary, or transgender not-otherwise-specified.
Whakawahine – similar to trans woman.
Tangata ira tāne – similar to trans man.
Takatāpui is often used as a gender of it’s self – Māori transgender not-otherwise-specified. Some also use takatāpui to refer to non-Māori who are transgender and intersex.
Let’s Talk: A Resource Guide for Parents
- Try not to assume. It is natural for parents to make assumptions about our children, we think we know them best. When it comes to gender and sexuality however, try to be open minded as your child begins to understand their place on this wide spectrum. Even though you may wish to address your assumptions, avoid jumping to conclusions and focus on respecting your child’s need to discover and disclose their own identity when they are ready.
- Recognize and address your concerns and fears. Many parents have concerns and fears about having an LGBTIQ+ child. It can make a difference to realize your child is not alone and there are many other parents before you who have navigated the best way to support their child. If it’s hard for you to accept the idea that your child might be gay or transgender, here are resources that may help.
- Show that you are open and accepting. There are still ways to show your child that you are open without addressing it directly. Using offensive language or negative discussion around LGBTIQ+ people will likely lead your child to assume that it is not safe to come out to you. Ways to show your support without putting your child on the spot include using respectful language when talking about them, and watching TV programs or reading books that have LGBTIQ+ characters.
- Be approachable and available. Make time and space for your child to be able to talk to you privately. Give them openings to talk about whatever is on their mind.
- Show unconditional love in your actions and words. Tell your child that you love them for who they are and that nothing can change that. Show your love by treating your child with care and respect. A strong relationship can help give your child the confidence to confide in you.
Growing Up Takatāpui: Whanau Journeys
“I got to a point where I felt like a volcano… I didn’t know what was going on, but I just felt unhappy and I felt depressed, angry and upset. Very angry. Not knowing who I was in terms of my own identity, I would spend a lot of time playing video games – ‘cause that was my way to escape” — Ariki
“All of the cultural messages of trans women are real bad so it’s difficult to learn anything good about trans women or the idea that you can be a trans woman and not just be a weird joke” — Emilie
“Patience is the number one key thing that this process has taught me… Know that it takes time and understanding to get to the point where it’s okay… It does get better. But it gets better by you trying — Nathaniel
“This has been a massive learning curve for Emilie’s mum and I, but I’m really proud of the whole family. They recognise that she is a wonderful human being, who is fiercely intelligent, argumentative, and always happy to get a free ride home from a party. Nothing’s changed” — Robert (Dad)