The Association of Family Therapists of Northern California (AFTNC)

(MDs, PhD/PsyDs, MFTs, LCSWs, & RNs Dedicated to Family and Couples Therapy)

“Helping Parents Navigate a Child’s Gender Transition Across the Lifespan” with Shawn V. Giammattei, Ph.D. 


Much of the work with trans youth focuses on the experience of the child and often leaves parents on their own to work through their feelings. We know that family support is one of the most important factors in the mental and physical health, as well as academic outcomes for trans youth. Fostering resilience in these families starts with understanding the experiences and developmental processes of parents/caregivers when their transgender or gender expansive child transitions. Creating an environment where parents can navigate their own process, while also helping a trans child can be complex and difficult for clinicians, especially when parents/caregivers are not affirming of their child’s gender.

This presentation will cover the developmental process that parents/caregivers of trans youth must navigate in becoming gender affirming, some basic issues they deal with and the challenges they may or may not face due to social contexts; key concerns in dealing with outside systems (school, church, extended family, community, insurance, etc.) as well as decision-making around social and medical interventions. We will also discuss some key interventions that help support and build resilience for these families, while considering the social contexts that can make this complicated, especially in the face of natural disasters, pandemics, sheltering, telehealth, civil unrest, and ongoing institutional racism.

Shawn V. Giammattei, PhD is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Northern CA specializing in couple and family therapy with people across the lifespan, with a particular focus on transgender and gender expansive youth and their families, as well as couples where one or more partners are trans. He is a researcher, educator, international speaker, and a professor teaching online graduate and post-graduate courses in LGBT psychology, family systems, and distance learning. He is the founder/director of the Gender Health Training Institute and past coordinator of training for the Rockway Institute.  He is an active member of Mind the Gap, the mental health arm of the Child and Adolescent Gender Clinic at UCSF Beniof, a GEI SOC7 Certified Member and Mentor for the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, holds leadership/board positions in AFTNC and the American Family Therapy Academy, and is the author of several articles and book chapters on gender, sexuality, and family work.

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