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Should my daughter, who is transgender, talk to a friend who posted anti-trans rhetoric online, or stay away from them?

Answered by Kenya Hameed, PsyD

Q My daughter is transgender. Recently a friend of hers began posting anti-trans rhetoric online. My daughter says that her friend has never said things like this to her face, but she feels incredibly hurt by the posts. I want to support her, but I’m not sure what to say. Should she talk to this person, or stay away from them?

I would recommend encouraging your child to have a discussion with this person who is supposed to be her friend, for two reasons.

The first is to give her a chance to air her grievances, how she is feeling. I think oftentimes people hide their emotions from others and that can really impact your self-esteem and your value assessment of yourself. If somebody has offended you and you don’t take the time to express that, you are potentially suppressing your emotions, and that’s not healthy.

This may be her first instance of dealing with this type of a conflict, but it may not be the last. Giving her the space to explore how she is feeling and to communicate that to someone else, particularly someone who hurt her, is important. She may not be having this conversation because she wants to repair the relationship. It may just be for her to communicate how she’s feeling. She may have to deal with this over and over again down the road and it will only get easier for her to say her piece on something offensive and explain how that has made her feel.

The second reason is just to provide insight into what’s going on with this friend. There seems to be a big disconnect between the personal friendship they have and what she’s doing online. Your daughter needs to make the judgment whether or not this is a friendship that’s worth trying to repair, or she needs to walk away.

It could be really easy as a parent to say, “That person is not going to be your friend anymore. You shouldn’t talk to them.” That might make sense, but that doesn’t equip her with the skills to work through the process of conflict resolution and make good decisions for herself independently in the future.