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Communicating with acquaintances

Helpful wording to guide you through communicating with acquaintances.

This resource offers a script on how to start and continue the conversation. Of course, you can tailor the wording to suit your situation.

Friends, Family & Allies
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Before disclosing your child’s gender identity to acquaintances, ask yourself:

  • Does this person need to know this information?
  • Will disclosing this information benefit my child?
  • Is there any risk to my child in sharing this information with this person?

You may also like to consider your child’s ability to consent to you sharing this information. If they’re mature enough, ask their permission before telling people about their gender identity. They may be happy with you sharing their information with anybody, with certain people only, or they may prefer to keep it private. If they do request privacy, respect their wishes and don’t tell people. If disclosure is necessary (for example, in educational or medical settings), let them know why the information must be disclosed, and assure them that the recipient of the information has a duty to keep it confidential.

  • ‘Hey, I wanted to let you know that <name> identifies as <gender identity>. [She’s / He’s / They’re] at the stage now of wanting to live in this gender, so you might notice a few changes in what [she’s / he’s / they’re] wearing, and how [she styles her / he styles his / they style their] hair over the next few months.’
  • ‘[She is / He is / They are] also now using the name <chosen name> and <pronouns> pronouns. It might feel a little weird to get used to, but can you please try your best to use these instead of [her / his / their] old name from now on? It means a lot to us.’
  • ‘[She’s / He’s / They’re] a smart kid. I trust [she / he / they] know what’s right for [herself / himself / themself]. Sure, there’s a small chance [she’ll / he’ll / they’ll] return to the gender [she was / he was / they were] assigned at birth. But I will support [her / him / them] in their gender identity no matter what.’
  • ‘I am supporting [her / him / them] and I accept [her / his / their] gender identity. I want [her / him / them] to know that they have my support, no matter what. If [she decides / he decides / they decide] to go back to being a [boy / girl], I will support that too.
  • ‘ [She / He / They] wouldn’t choose this. No-one chooses to be gender diverse. It’s difficult. People stigmatise, discriminate, tease, bully, insult, and question gender diverse people regularly. Would anyone choose that?’
  • ‘[Her / His / Their] discomfort about [her / his / their] body was serious. When puberty started, it got much worse. So we are using gender-affirming care to stop [her / his / their] body from causing so much distress. [She has / He has / They have] been much happier and calmer since starting treatment.’
  • ‘[She’ll / He’ll / They’ll] take the blockers until [she’s / he’s / they’re] old enough to make a mature, informed decision about any further treatment. If [she / he / they] don’t want to continue with blockers, [she’ll / he’ll / they’ll] just stop taking them and their body will continue developing.’

Asserting your boundaries

  • ‘Using a different name and pronouns can definitely feel strange. And mistakes happen. If you accidentally use the wrong name or pronouns for <name>, please just let [her / him / them] know you’re sorry. And do what you can to get it right. [She does / He does / They do] get upset when the wrong name or pronouns are used.’
  • ‘I have mentioned before that using my child’s child’s correct name and pronouns is really important to [her / him / them], but it seems to me like you’re not putting in an effort to get them right. Please try to use them instead of [her / his / their] old name and pronouns? [She’s / He’s / They’re] getting distressed because you keep using the wrong ones.’
  • ‘Every time you use the wrong name and pronouns, it invalidates <name> and makes [her / him / them] very upset. It’s difficult to say, but I’m not going to allow you to spend any more time with [her / him / them] until you’re able to put some effort into using [her / his / their] correct name and pronouns.’
  • ‘I don’t feel comfortable answering that question. It’s too personal, and I don’t believe it is relevant for you to know.’
  • ‘I feel like you’re uncomfortable [talking about my child / that I have chosen to support my child’s gender diversity / <other>]. Parental acceptance has been proven to be crucial for gender diverse kids; it significantly reduces their risk of mental health issues, self-harm and even suicide. It’s my responsibility to keep them safe. If this doesn’t sit well with you, we may have to reconsider our ability to remain in contact. For me, <name> is always going to come first.’
  • ‘I’ve noticed a few comments lately from [you / your child] about <name>’s appearance. Please understand that they are very sensitive and vulnerable right now, and [your / your child’s] words are cutting deeply. Can you please make sure there are no more comments made about the way they look?’
  • ‘I’ve noticed / heard that [you / your child] has been [teasing / doing hurtful things / <other>] to <name>. Please understand that they are very sensitive and vulnerable right now, and these actions are not OK.’
  • ‘Would you please consider <name>’s safety and wellbeing and have a talk with <their child’s name> about it? I can forward you a resource that might help. It’s called Helpful Wording: How to talk to young children about people who are gender diverse. Would you be open to that?’
  • ‘<Name> tells me that [you / your child] is still giving [her / him / them] grief about [her / his / their] [gender transition / appearance / <other>]. [She’s / He’s / They’re] very distressed about it. I need to protect my child, and for now, this means making sure [she doesn’t / he doesn’t / they don’t] have any further contact with [you / your child] until [you’re / they’re] ready to treat <name> respectfully.’

When your child is using the bathroom

  • ‘That’s an incredibly offensive thing to say. My child is just trying to use the toilet right now. Please leave them alone.’
  • ‘My child feels unsafe using the other bathroom. They’re simply going to use the toilet here, and then we will go.’
  • ‘My child actually is protected under Australian discrimination law to use this bathroom.’
  • ‘If my child being here is making you uncomfortable, perhaps you can wait outside until we are finished.’

For talking with people who are close and important to you, please see our resources How to talk to family and friends about your child’s gender identity and Helpful Wording: Disclosing your child’s gender identity to family and friends.