Pediatrician on her personal awakening as mother of a transgender daughter

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Paria Hassouri and her daughter, Ava. Credit: Paria Hassouri

Being a pediatrician and mother of three, I didn’t think there were many parenting scenarios that could catch me unprepared. But I had been blindsided by my daughter’s coming out as trans, and that first year was riddled with mistakes. Following are three of the greatest lessons I learned, which ultimately made me a better mother.

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Multiple studies have shown that supporting transgender teens in their identity significantly improves their mental health and decreases their threefold risk of suicide to the same rate as that of their cisgender peers.

When your children are newborns, you meet their cries minute to minute. Let that parental instinct take over again. Initially, concern over how reactions of elderly relatives and friends would impact my parents also held me back. While my parents are progressive, I worried that gender variance would be beyond their level of understanding given their age and the conservative culture they grew up in. Then I realized that I had an obligation to do what is best for my child over an obligation to protect anyone else.

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As a pediatrician, I’ve always supported parents in making decisions for their kids based on their own beliefs rather than those of extended family or friends. Pretend that there is no fear or hate in the world, and ask yourself what decision you would make. Then do that. Sometimes, it really can be that simple.

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