Do you talk about being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender with your kids?

Earlier this week, a successful beauty blogger here in the Netherlands, Nikkie de Jager (@nikkietutorials), publicly announced that she is transgender. A very brave thing to do — I watched her coming out video on YouTube and was incredibly impressed by her story and the way she chose to share it. I recommend you to watch it if you haven’t seen it yet, there is a lot to learn from Nikkie. It is an inspiring message from a strong roll model, addressing young people who feel insecure, misunderstood or simply not in the right place. It is about acceptance, respect, hearing and understanding each other, about writing your own story, about the power of being yourself — whoever you are and whatever you are.

It is also about the importance of supportive parenting. Nikkie shares that she is intensely grateful for her mother, who always saw and heard, listened and understood, respected and supported her in her choices and in her transition. The brave, beautiful and powerful woman sharing her story this week is surely a daughter to be proud of!

Yesterday during dinner time Sara brought Nikkie’s coming out video up and so we spent a bit of time talking about transgenderism. I thought Pim raised an interesting question — why did Nikkie refrain from sharing her past for so long? It is, after all, totally acceptable and nothing to be ashamed of? The answer, we concluded, must be more complex — Nikkie wanted to be known and respected as the person she is right now, and not influence anyone’s opinion of her with the awareness of what happened in her personal history. Something which is understandable, of course. But at the end of her video, it is good to know that Nikkie realises that now that her story is out and in the open and she is free, she is still herself, probably even more so than before.

We have always tried to be straightforward in discussing sex and reproduction with our children, and open about the idea that heterosexuality is just one shade of a wider spectrum of diversity. Both Sara’s as Pim’s secondary schools are progressive and encourage their LGBT students to feel free to be who they are. I felt it was so nice to notice how easy it was to discuss this news story with our teenagers, how natural it was to talk about the ethical implications as well as the more physical facts of the transition with them. This new generation is so supportive and open minded! And people like Nikkie, sharing her story in such an inspiring way, help with acceptance and normalisation as well.

Please share your thoughts…

xxx Esther


Comments (5)

Shannon in NYC
January 16, 2020

This has been on my mind lately…over the winter break a well-known children’s boutique asked on Instagram – I assume innocently and with good intent – how parents were talking to their children about gender identity. I was completely shocked by the answers, most of which took the line “I don’t, there’s nothing to talk about,” or l, “I tell them there are two genders: male and female and we never need to talk about it again.” Here’d I’d thought this was progressive and modern New York at the end of 2019, and the comments read like something I would have expected from half a century ago! Anyway, the vehemence with which parents denied the existence of anything outside a gender binary really surprised and almost frightened me…especially as it meant another generation being influenced in a way the might make them less open and supportive to all people. Anyway, the post was taken down (not a big surprise!) and it’s stuck with me. My children are only 5 and 2, but I try to introduce to them where I can the idea that how people identify/feel may be more complex than simply male/female and of course that that’s okay! Off to do a quick search for a children’s book on this (would love suggestions I’d anyone has them!). It’s entirely possible my 5-year-old has already discussed this at school and not even brought it up at home because it seemed so normal and natural to her.

Esther in Amsterdam
January 17, 2020

How disappointing. You would think differently of New Yorkers, I agree! I really feel that there is still so much discomfort around about these issues, as well as simply talking to your kids about sex. Being very open about in a matter-of-fact, straightforward way when children are little paves the way to these kind of more complex issues when they are older. Let me know if you find any good books! xx

January 16, 2020

My oldest son has a child at his school who is transgender and he doesn’t even know who it is. I thought it was interesting that he didn’t really care either. I agree that our children’s generation is much more matter of fact and accepting of these things when they come across them.

What I find interesting is that, despite that our much loved nanny of 7 years is a homosexual (and they know that) my children still use “gay” as a word for something which is bad or stupid – largely if someone else at school has done it and they are copying. They have difficulty with understanding that terminology and the way you use it can be important. We have much to learn from their acceptance and they need to learn nuance from us!

Esther in Amsterdam
January 17, 2020

I totally agree! xx

February 3, 2020

With the high rates of mental illness within the LGBTQ+-community partly due to the norms in our society I think it is my duty to try to lead a positive example on how to expand those norms to include, rather than exclude, more people. To see the things alike instead of differences. I have several friends in this community, and see myself as a part of it, and have since I hade my first baby changed family constellations, sex and gender, in children’s books and always talked of “the child” instead of “the boy/girl”. I have never corrected my child if he named himself she and I have actively chosen different clothes in different colours, and tried to give him the opportunity to play with different toys and express and validate different feelings. I am sure that if we weren’t so uptight when it comes to categorising sex, gender, love – we would all benefit.

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