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Supporting Trans Youth Over the Holidays (and always!)

Wow… it’s December already? it feels like we were just together at camp! This holiday season, we’re grateful for our community — all of you— and the way you show up day after day.

The winter holidays are a time for togetherness, celebration, joy, and love. This time of year can also go hand in hand with stress…  It’s no surprise that the holidays may bring up some big feelings and overwhelming situations, both for you and for your trans kids.

Whether this is the first time that your child will be seeing extended family since coming out or they’ve been out for years, or something else all together, the holidays can feel vulnerable or challenging for trans kids, who may be worrying how others will respond and treat them — or perhaps even wondering if their existence will come up as a topic of debate over dinner.

Trans kids deserve to experience the warmth and joy of the holidays, just like any other children, and they need the support of their families and allies to make this happen. Here are five practical tips to help the holidays feel safe and supportive for your trans kids:

  1. Check in with your kid and follow their lead

Have a conversation with your child to gauge how they’re feeling about the holidays and any upcoming plans. Get their input on how they’d like to be addressed, what they’re comfortable with sharing, and when they might want you to intervene in an uncomfortable situation. Hold space for big feelings and listen to what they have to say.

  1. Use their name and pronouns

Model using your child’s preferred name and pronouns, and other family/guests are more likely to follow suit. You may want to touch base with guests beforehand to set expectations. If folks are struggling to use the correct name/pronouns, it’s okay to pull them aside to remind them or to correct slip ups, if that’s what your child wants.

  1. Set clear boundaries

Know when not to go, and when it’s time to leave. If your child won’t be accepted and respected at a particular gathering, consider staying home; a quiet evening in is better than a party with unsupportive people, even if they are family. With a negative spotlight on trans folks in the media right now, harmful conversation may come up. Be prepared to shut it down and don’t be afraid to hold the line: your child’s existence is not up for debate.

  1. Update traditions — or create new ones

If you have long-standing family traditions, think about how you can include and celebrate your trans child in a way that affirms their identity. Updating names on stockings and decorations or getting a gender-affirming gift are small gestures that will go a long way. If past traditions no longer suit your family, make this a time to co-create new ones with your kids!

  1. Make time for social connection and self care

Encourage your child to remain connected to their friends and support systems over the holidays, and facilitate opportunities for social activities, movement, and self-care to support your child’s mental health while on school break. The same goes for you! You can’t pour from an empty cup.

At the end of the day, supporting your trans kid during the holidays comes down to this: love them, choose them, and celebrate them — now and always. Got questions or comments? Send ‘em over. We’re on this journey with you!

-Camp Indigo

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