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Surviving the Holidays with a Transgender-Identified Child

Updated: Nov 20, 2021

One of the many challenging (horrific? devastating? debilitating?) aspects of a child’s transgender self-identification is coping with family get-togethers. Holidays like Thanksgiving, which you once approached with joyful anticipation, may now loom like impending nightmares:

The extended family doesn’t know that Jenny shaves her head and wears a breast binder.

Your child wastes no opportunity to expound upon gender ideology.

Grandpa is hurt, confused, and angry that the grandson for whom he is namesake has discarded that name in favor of a feminine persona.

Your child wastes no opportunity to remind you and everyone else how bigoted you are and how much he hates you.

Your sister-in-law actively undermines your authority, affirming your child’s trans identity every chance she gets.

Your child wastes no opportunity to tell everyone else how they must speak and behave.

It’s perfectly understandable if you long for happier times, and you dread this Thanksgiving and the holidays coming after it.

You will not be able to recreate a Norman Rockwell painting for your family this year—most of us can’t do so even in the best of times—but there are some strategies you can employ to mitigate the difficulties and anticipate possibly uncomfortable situations.

Prepare the Unprepared

In Desist, Detrans & Detox: Getting Your Child Out of the Gender Cult, Maria Keffler recommends that parents do not do the painful and exhausting work of telling extended family members about a child’s new gender identity if they can avoid it, but to leave that emotionally draining job to the child.

However, the holidays can be so fraught with stress and challenges, it’s wise to do as much damage control ahead of time as possible.

If you anticipate seeing people who don’t yet know what’s going on in your family, consider contacting them ahead of time. A simple statement to share with others might be:

“We wanted to let you know that we’re dealing with a difficult issue in our family right now, and you might not recognize Kendra when you see her. She believes that she is not really a girl, and she has changed her appearance and behavior dramatically. We’re not affirming this delusion, but are trying to help her accept herself and accept reality. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me.”

Set Your Boundaries with Your Child

Just as you have to decide what you will and will not do with respect to your child’s gender demands, you will want to establish boundaries around your holiday expectations.

Communicate to your child clearly what your expectations are, such as:

“Neither sex nor gender will be topics of conversation while grandma is here.”

“You will wear clothing that your mother and I consider appropriate when we go to Aunt Linda’s house.”

“You will not discuss any topics related to sex or gender with your nieces and nephews.

“When you meet your cousin’s new husband, you will tell him your given name, but you can add, ‘My friends call me Ash’.”

If your minor child will not verbally agree to your boundaries, you may decide that the child does not get to participate in the holiday event. If you are dealing with an older child who will not respect your wishes, or the wishes of the family member who is hosting, the child may lose his invitation to the event.

As disappointing as it is to not spend a holiday with the extended family, keep in mind that this situation is the result of your child’s opinion that his needs and wishes supersede everyone else’s. People have survived far greater horrors than being called by a name they don’t prefer, or being asked to wear clothes they don’t like.

Set Your Boundaries with Your Family

When it comes to extended family members, it may be necessary to set your boundaries based upon whether your authority over your child and the situation will be respected.

If you have discovered that certain family members consider themselves the valiant saviors of the “poor trans child with toxic parents,” you may decide that you will not spend time around these family members this holiday season. This might be a year to beg off going to big family events, and take the opportunity to have a gathering with just your immediate family.

One of the most powerful points of evidence revealing gender ideology’s destructive and harmful nature is its effect on relationships. Gender has caused marriages to fall apart, it has separated close friends, and it has created factions within families. This is heartbreaking, but it is a reality.

Your job as a parent is to love and protect your child in every way possible. Dealing effectively and appropriately with the transgender identity and ideology are a matter of life, health, and death; if you must put a wall up between your child and family members who are unhealthy for your child, then that’s the thing you must do.

You wouldn’t spend time with people who gave an alcoholic child beer and wine, or a drug-addicted child marijuana and heroin. Neither should you expose your child to people who are affirming and encouraging self-harming behaviors like gender transition.

Plan Strategies for Handling Difficult Moments

Having a script for what you’ll do in certain scenarios will help you go into the holidays feeling like you’re on sitting on top of the problem rather than being dragged under by it. Prepare what you’ll say if someone asks why Brad looks that way, or why Bella didn’t come to Thanksgiving dinner with you.

Decide ahead of time how forthright (or evasive) you want to be. You have the right to say either, “Brad is confused about who he is right now,” or “Bella isn’t feeling well.”

When you encounter a relative you know will be especially problematic, beat him to the punch by speaking to him before he gets his mouth open: ask him a question you know he’ll talk about for hours, or (if you have the energy and gregariousness) talk to him non-stop about anything you can think of until he’s desperate to get away from you.

Anticipate that conversations may go directions you don’t want them to go, and plan strategies for redirection. If someone opens up a topic you’d rather not discuss, simply say, “I don’t want to talk about that right now.”

Finally, have a code phrase or signal with your spouse or older kids, so they’ll know when you need rescued from a conversation or situation, or when it’s time to leave. When Mom says, “My lower back is killing me,” everyone knows it’s time to wrap it up and head for the door.


If you’re dealing with a transgender-identified child in your family, you already know that nothing about family life is easy anymore. Holidays can really add to the burden, exacerbating the feelings of loss, unfairness, and hurt.

Managing your own expectations—and accepting that things are not going to be the way you wish they would be—can be a good place to start as you prepare for the upcoming weeks on the calendar.

And remember that time stops for no man. January will be here before you know it.


Advocates Protecting Children supports individuals, families, churches, and organizations who struggle to navigate gender ideology. Contact us at or through our website,

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