“We took the time to listen to our child’s needs when he came out as transgender”
In honour of Pride Month this June, we interviewed Feros Care employees from the LGBTQIA+SB Community. Below, Victoria shares her story of supporting her child on their transgender journey.
Sage openly started their journey when he was 13 years old. He came out to the family as non-Binary, this included using pronouns they / them, and asking to be called Sage. When he turned 16 years old, he identified as trans male and pronouns become He / Him.
“As this was unfamiliar to us, we took the time to listen to him and understand what this meant for him and what he needed,” says Sage’s parent, Victoria. “As his journey progressed, we took direction and cues from him. We took a greater interest in the LGBTQIA+SB cohorts in our workplaces, which offered us support and information.”
Educating themselves allowed Sage’s parents, Victoria and Tony, to support him and bring extended family and friends on the journey. “We accepted his pronouns and name change, and we legally changed his name, when he was ready at 17 years of age,” says Victoria.
Changing your name is a relatively straightforward process, but legally changing genders is much more complex. While it no longer requires having undergone sex-affirming surgery in Sage’s home state of South Australia (a requirement that still exists in other states including New South Wales), a person who wants to legally change their gender needs to prove they have undergone “clinical treatment” such as psychological counselling.
The process also involves a mountain of paperwork and separate applications to various federal and state agencies to have their gender changed on different official documents. The outcomes may vary depending on the agency, so having his gender changed on one document doesn’t guarantee it will be changed on the others.
“When Sage was under 18, he decided that he wasn’t ready for this process because it’s even more onerous for minors,” says Victoria. “That was daunting for him, so he wanted to wait until he was 18. He turned 18 only a month ago, so we’re still exploring this with him.”
When it comes to supporting a trans person in your life, Victoria has some words of advice. “Don’t think or say, ‘You’re too young to know, it’s just a phase,’” she says. “Listen to the person, let them guide you on what they need and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Respect their pronouns and change of name, but mistakes can happen. If you make one, apologise and correct yourself.”
Feros Care’s Pride Support Network has been a crucial source of support and acceptance for Victoria, Tony and the rest of Sage’s family. “We have other children that identify as being part of the rainbow community, so having an organisation that supports the community is essential to our family,” says Victoria. “We’re proud to share with our children what our organisations do to recognise and support them, and how they’re leading by example that there’s acceptance in future employment.”