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Parental support and non-support of trans youth: towards a nuanced understanding of forms of support and trans youth’s expectations

Annie Pullen Sansfaçon, Morgane A. Gelly, Maxime Faddoul, Edward Ou Jin Lee

Research Framework: This article focuses on the different levels of parental support that trans youth may experience or not.
Objectives: This article aims to define, from the perspective of trans youth, what parental support is, and describe how it affects their well-being.
Methodology: The results are drawn from qualitative analyses of semi-structured interviews with 54 young trans people between the ages of 15 and 25, living in the province of Quebec (Canada). The data collection and analysis processes followed a grounded theory approach and were guided by two concepts: recognition (Honneth) and intersectionality (Crenshaw).
Results: Our research reveals three levels of parental support: strong support, negative neutrality, and non-support or rejection. These can be conditional or non-conditional. The strong support that encourages gender expression promotes the well-being of young people and strengthens relationships with their parents. On the contrary, non-support or parental rejection affects negatively the youth well-being, can expose them to dangerous situations, and/or lead them to seek other forms of support. In addition, partial support, or negative neutrality, can also affect their well-being and self-esteem negatively.
Conclusion: Our article demonstrates that, in order to promote the well-being of young people, parental acceptance must be strong, and accompanied by actions that allow and encourage the expression of the gender of trans youth. It would be important to educate and support parents in the process of accepting their child.
Contribution: This article addresses the lack of qualitative data on parental support and its effects on trans youth, from the perspective of the youth themselves. Our study allows us to establish with more nuance how parental support or non-support fits into life trajectories and affects the well-being of young trans people.