TPC-Journal-Vol 11-Issue-4

The Professional Counselor | Volume 11, Issue 4 453 Affirming Cost-Benefit Analysis Berta provided a description typical of the sample regarding her and her partner’s affirming costbenefit analysis that led to granting informed consent. She highlighted her access to a supportive community as well as her recognition of the mental health implications of a non-affirmed TGD identity for her child: A parent who had come before me said there’s really nothing that you can’t reverse. You can wear a wig if your hair falls out. . . . If you start growing facial hair and then you decide you don’t want to, you can get electrolysis. . . . If you get your breasts removed, you can get implants. But what it really comes down to is do you want a dead kid, or do you want a kid that might be slightly altered? We looked at [our child] and thought, “You’re miserable, and if this will help you not be miserable, then we will go for it.” Relief Each participant expressed a sense of relief that they had granted informed consent, usually because they noticed improvements in their child’s moods and general sense of happiness. Lennon (55), a White, cisgender man married to his parenting partner and living in the Midwest region, provided a statement that was typical in the sample: “His mood changed. That was the key. I think the fact that we saw [child] become happier with it, that’s the key. That’s all that really mattered.” Discussion The purpose of this research was to explore the process by which 17 parents of TGD youth developed affirmative understandings and approaches to their children’s gender identity, affirmed their related transition needs, and granted informed consent for the TGD youth in their care to undergo GCEI. Based upon our review of the literature, there are no studies related to the process that the parents and guardians of TGD minors go through to give informed consent for GCEI. This research appears likely to inform best practice for professional counselors and other helping professionals serving TGD youth who wish to have an endocrinologically supported transition and those charged with giving informed consent for these interventions. Implications for Professional Counselors First, this research provides a plausible model for practitioners to follow when presented with the challenge of supporting parents of TGD youth as they work to develop affirming attitudes and support their respective children’s medical transition. Though the dissonance-to-consonance model as presented still needs to be tested by more objective means, the interplay of exposure, openness, and acceptance as contributing factors to parents’ TGD-affirming cost-benefit analyses toward the experience of relief for themselves and their children appears to be consistent with attachment and family counseling best practices (Ainsworth & Bowlby, 1991; Bowlby, 1988; Gladding, 2019; Minuchin, 1974; Siegel, 2013; Siegel & Bryson, 2011; Wallin, 2007). The combination of these factors, especially as they relate to parents’ fears about the side effects of GCEI and doubts about the genuineness of their child’s gender identity, appeared particularly relevant to this study given the previously cited paucity of research examining the long-term effects of GCEI on developing pre-adolescent and adolescent bodies and that the consistency between gender-expansive identity development and cisgender identity development has only been published recently (Drescher, 2010; Gülgöz et al., 2019). The challenges, however, for adolescents regarding decision-making, impulse control, and executive functioning are well-documented (Siegel, 2013).