Gender: A Wider Lens
Gender: A Wider Lens
46 - Helena Part II: Advice for Parents from a Former Trans Kid

46 - Helena Part II: Advice for Parents from a Former Trans Kid

Our conversation with Helena continues and takes a personal, intimate turn. She reflects that her desire to transition was actually an attempt to meet a deep relational need. She sought to garner a kind of engagement and recognition from her parents. Unfortunately, the way they responded triggered a doubling-down and sense of urgency for medical intervention. Helena offers some insights into better ways parents can react to their gender-questioning child in the hopes of helping families avoid the dissolution hers experienced. This vulnerable conversation confronts the challenges of family relations with both emotional honesty and courage.


Helena on Twitter:

Extended Notes:

  • Trans kids are worried about how their parents will receive their trans letter. What’s going through their minds when they’re about to come out to their parents?

  • Helena wanted attention so badly. She had a very distant relationship with her parents and she wanted to have the same sort of household her peers were having (involved parents).

  • In Helena’s family, they found out she was trans and then it became an elephant in the room where no one really ever spoke about it again. Helena shares what happened when she came out.

  • What reaction was Helena hoping to get from her mother?

  • Helena decided to go through with her plan anyway and write a coming-out letter. She found it in the kitchen trash a few days later. It was like no one in her household cared.

  • Helena got into another huge fight about her identity when she came back temporarily from college with her mother.

  • It turned into Helena being completely rejected by her mother and she had to go no contact for over a year with her.

  • Because Helena was rejected from her household, she felt like she had to double down as a boy and she couldn’t go back to being a girl.

  • Helena shares how she was able to get her hands on testosterone without her parent’s consent.

  • Helena was so convincing that the nurse and the professionals just decided to skip blood work and give her very, very high doses of testosterone right off the bat. In retrospect, this was concerning.

  • What is Helena’s relationship with her parents now?

  • Growing up, Helena felt like it was just all her fault.

  • Helena is still grappling with the effects of her childhood and how lonely she felt.

  • What advice does Helena have for parents?

  • It’s not your job to change your child’s mind. It’s your job to just be aware, attentive, and listen. Your child is not aware of all the consequences.

  • If your child doesn’t want to talk, then start small.

  • Don’t explode with your emotions. Use your words. Be vulnerable. Try to be open. Try to express what you’re feeling, not thinking, to them.

  • What made Helena detransition?

  • Helena identifies as an outsider and tries to recreate different scenarios to be in that space again.

This podcast is partially sponsored by ReIME, Rethink Identity Medicine Ethics:

Learn more about our show:

Gender: A Wider Lens
Gender: A Wider Lens
In this podcast, now in its fourth year, therapists Stella O'Malley and Sasha Ayad take a deep dive into the psychological and cultural forces impacting the social changes around "gender." Through interviews with researchers, doctors, therapists, parents, detransitioners, and others, Sasha and Stella's podcast is a "must listen" for anyone trying to navigate the current gender landscape. With their sharp analytical minds and deep compassionate hearts, Stella and Sasha have also become known throughout many parent networks as lighthouses in the midst of some very stormy seas. Previous guests include Helen Joyce, Jesse Singal, Leor Sapir, Kathleen Stock, Jamie Reed, Peter Boghossian and more.