Q&A: My Son Is Struggling With Gender Identity. How Can I Help?

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QUESTION: I have a 17 year old son who is struggling with gender identity issues and I need information, I need to know how to best support him. I am looking for any resources online or local, although we live in Texas so the options are slim. Please let me know where is the best place to start.

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Your son is fortunate to have such a supportive parent who is motivated to identify resources for information as well as support and kindness.


There are many different ways that people experience their gender, which is not the same thing as a person’s biological sex. Although most males identify as boys or men, and most females identify as girls or women, some people have identify in other ways. For example, some biological males identify as girls or women and some biological females identify as boys or men and in these cases may identify as “transgender.”

Biological males or females may identify as “gender queer,” which is a term that some people embrace and others don’t, given the difficult and violent history that the term “queer” has.

Some people don’t feel like they are transgender, but may identify as gender non-conforming meaning that they feel they don’t quite fit in with stereotypical ways of viewing a particular gender.


You can learn more about diverse ways of experiencing gender on the website GenderSpectrum.org which includes information for parents as well as information about healthcare considerations and how to manage school-related issues such as bullying, feeling safe, what children can wear to school, and which bathroom they can use.

PFLAG – which stands for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – has broadened its services over the years and now offers support and information related to gender identity and transgender issues. You can learn more at pflag.org. Learn more about these resources and others on our Kinsey Confidential website.

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Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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