Open Access

Grieving those Who Still Live: Loss Experienced by Parents of Transgender Children


Transgender identity can be defined as the self-awareness of a discrepancy between the assigned sex at birth and the personal gender identity of an individual. This study assumed the constructionist perspective, focused on the influence of culture on sex-typing and the representations of gender in child development. This research considers how parents of transgender children emotionally handled the transition. Being faced with a child’s transgender identity may cause an emotional experience similar to mourning, in particular, ambiguous loss (Coolhart, Ritenour & Grodzinski 2018, McGuire et al. 2016, Norwood 2013). In this qualitative research, 97 associations dealing with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) issues were contacted to recruit participants from three different countries: Italy, Spain and U.S.A. The sample includes 18 parents of trangender people who completed an ad hoc questionnaire. A brief standard story was constructed about an experience of sexual transition, followed by some questions on the experience of parental mourning during the transgender transition of their children. The corpora were analysed in the three original languages, and the analysis was performed with Atlas.ti. From the qualitative analysis of the texts that describe parents’ experience, three fundamental elements emerged. The first is inherent to the mourning orientation to loss and the fear of death; the second to the disenfranchisement of mourning and transgender identity between family and society; and the third illustrates the final restorative outcome of mourning.

Publication timeframe:
Volume Open
Journal Subjects:
Social Sciences, Sociology, other