Expert Q&A: How Can I Support My Daughter Who Just Came Out As Gender Fluid & What Does That Mean? by Erin Wiley, MA, LPC, LPCC
Q: My daughter just came out as gender fluid. I’m not sure how that’s different than being gay or bisexual. I feel like I could have handled it better if I understood more. What does it mean, and what should a parent do at that moment? What can I say to be even more supportive?
A. Gender fluidity refers to the experience of feeling as if you do not fall into the rigid confines of being either exclusively “male” or “female.” Gender fluidity doesn’t affect who you might choose romantically or who you might be sexually attracted to. Gender identity (in this case ”fluid”) refers to how one perceives themselves, how one feels inside about themself in regard to their masculinity/femininity/lack of either/combination of both. Your sex is how the world identifies you at birth, based on your visible sexual organs (male/female/both). Your gender expression is how you present to the world.
If you have a child or friend who shares some information with you about their gender identity or sexuality, the best thing to do is to listen. Thank them for trusting you with that personal information. Let them know that you accept and love them no matter what they look like or who they love or how they experience their gender. Gender is only one thing that makes us human; it is not the sole defining thing about a person. To be supportive, be a good listener and learn to withhold comments or judgment. Ask questions and be interested in the new things this person is learning about themself and sharing with you.
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