My College:
Dear Adina

Concerned for My Daughter's Safety

Adina Glickman

Dear Adina,

My daughter is struggling with her sexual identity and I am not sure how to handle the situation. I worry about her safety later in life if she goes through with the transition. I'm a little upset with her decision. How do I deal with this?

Dear Parent,

I am so glad you reached out with this question — it reflects the care and seriousness with which you are taking your child’s struggle. Your willingness to reflect on your own feelings and reactions is a tremendous gift to your child, and by extension is also a gift to other parents who need good role models!

Women, people of color, members of the trans community, and members of the LGBTQ community have always had to navigate their safety in the larger world. There is no shield from violence or oppression that guarantees safety, but historically the best protection has been in being surrounded and supported by allies. You have an opportunity to lead the way in being your daughter’s staunchest ally.

It might help to move this challenge out of the “decisions they make” category and into the “this is who they are” category. Sexuality and gender identity are part of the fabric of who we are and our decisions — our choices — are how to honor or subjugate the truths of that fabric.

Part of what we’re learning is that those cultural and societal things that “come naturally,” like gendering our babies from the moment the ultrasound gives us data, are constructed and imposed on babies and children. For people considering transitioning, it’s a decision to be free of a set of choices others have made. Coming to a decision to transition from daughter to son, or to exist anywhere on the gender spectrum, can be understood as a setting aside of those unnatural constructs.

In essence, your child’s job is to become who they truly are, and any decision they make down the line will be an embracing of that true self.

It’s understandable to be upset when our kids are facing challenges like being safe and doing things we might consider as moving away from what’s considered a norm. Consider this: if we parents (aka members of society) include gender diversity in our own understanding of what’s just "regular," we take a necessary step in making the world a safer place for our kids.

Since one of your child’s challenges will be dealing with people who are anything from uncomfortable to hostile, it is essential that you, as their parent, attend to them with unabridged acceptance. Be with them like they’re the child you love because they ARE the child you love. The rest of the world may not see that, but if you don’t, they definitely won’t.

Finally, if any of your upset is leaning towards disapproval, consider how that might inadvertently contribute to the lack of safety they feel. Feeling safe in our parent’s embrace is the right of every child, and that embedded sense of safety will go a long way towards giving them the feeling inside that they’re strong enough to take on the challenges.

It’s a cause for celebration that your child is coming into themselves. You can either celebrate with them or skip the party. If you’re planning on being the leader of the ally pack, start celebrating. You can certainly explore your own discomfort, but your number one priority is supporting your child.

You may need some help with that, and there are resources to support your efforts. But whatever you communicate to your child (and if “she” is no longer the appropriate pronoun, start there) it must be unconditional love and acceptance.

Know that you are in good company and that you have allies in parenting. Here are a couple of resources I encourage you to check out:


Adina Signature

Have a question? Ask Adina

Adina Glickman is the founder of Affinity Coaching, which offers academic, life and career coaching to young adults. She is the former director of learning strategies at Stanford University and is the co-founder and director of the Academic Resilience Consortium, an association of faculty, staff and students dedicated to understanding and promoting student resilience. Learn more at

Comments are closed.

  • Have a question? Ask Adina
  • 11 hours ago

    Summer was made for creating memories.From the time our children are very little, we embrace so many special moments during summertime. Playing in inflatable pools, running through sprinklers, building sandcastles at the beach, meeting at the neighborhood ice cream truck, catching fireflies, having cookouts and so much more.Life just seems to slow down a little in summer and we breathe in all its sweetness.For the last eight summers, with this summer making it nine, our family has been making memories in Wrightsville Beach, NC. There’s something about this place that instills a sense of peacefulness and makes visitors like us feel like locals. Our visits started as a family vacation, evolved into a week away for the kids and me, and has now become a special tradition for my daughter and me.This summer’s visit was even more special. Maybe it was because my daughter had just graduated college. Maybe it was because, as the years move onward, I become more keenly aware of how valuable time is. And time in Wrightsville Beach seems to move more slowly.We immerse in the little things, which makes our days stretch out luxuriously. Each morning started with coffee at our favorite local coffee shop, just across the street from where we stay and where we know the baristas. After lingering and chatting, we walk across the street again and down to the beach to take a long walk along the ocean’s shore. We’ve taken these walks so many times that we no longer need to take pictures to capture the beauty all around us. Of course, we sometimes still do.More memories are added to the memory bank as we go for fresh-pressed juice or for an acai bowl at the local surf smoothie shop. We’ve loved watching the transformation of some of the houses on this part of the island that’s become so familiar it feels like a second home. Afternoon walks have led us to a serene spot near a big gorgeous home right on the part of the water called the sound. It’s like an inlet and it’s here that we found a perfect place to take pictures. Not the kinds of pictures where everything has to be perfect, but the kinds that capture the pure joy in these moments.Most days end with a late afternoon walk by the ocean and then watching the stunning sunsets along the sound. In past years we have caught a glorious sunrise or two over the ocean, but not this summer. And I’m completely fine with that. Summers are made for making memories. There are more sunrises to behold and plenty more memories to make this summer, and many summers to come.shared by Sydnei Kaplan, Mom in the Moment - Sydnei Kaplan, Writer#wrightsvillebeach #SummerVibes ... See MoreSee Less
    View on Facebook

    2 days ago

    Here’s how to help your student set their 5th year apart and go forward with the confidence to succeed.🎓 Author: Vicki Nelson#collegestudents #changeofmajor #lowgpa #lackofdirection #doublemajor #studyabroad #extratimeneeded #lifecircumstances #fifthyear ... See MoreSee Less
    View on Facebook

    2 days ago

    “Making every decision based on ‘how it will look’ for college is a pressure cooker and possible tragic letdown” - Guidance counselor Mazra SchindlerTaking courses that challenge or fulfill or find your passion are always a good thing. Joining clubs, doing volunteer work, also, wonderful to start early. However, making every decision solely based on “how it will look” for college, starting freshman year is not only a pressure cooker but also serves as a possibly tragic letdown. As a school guidance counselor, what I have seen over the years, especially the last several is how many kids have been disappointed. Even having the 96-99 average, all honors and AP classes and resume a mile long doesn’t necessarily get them into the colleges they had their hearts set on. They they come to me and tell me that they’ve been stressing and not sleeping, foregoing social events, or pursuing passions, with the goal of getting into a certain college. Unfortunately, there is no absolute rubric to getting into top-tier or Ivy League schools. When I used to work at a prestigious high school in NYC, the parents used to ask when they met me their students freshman year, “How do I get my kid into Harvard?” I told them if I knew that answer, I’d be a millionaire. My Point? There are no absolutes and my biggest heartbreak is to hear my students bemoan that they’ve been working so hard and it was all for nothing. Of course as a mom and as someone doing this for almost two decades, I know that there are hundreds of wonderful schools out there that will produce successful and happy people based not on their “bumper sticker” value but what they put into it and get out of it. But after they put their heart and soul with a goal instead of enjoying the journey they feel disillusioned and severely disappointed. Like anything else in life, if your sole focus is on the destination, you are inevitably going to miss out on some of the beauty of the journey. And remember, sometimes the biggest detours lead to the most unexpected yet Perfect outcomes. ... See MoreSee Less
    View on Facebook
  • Don't Miss Out!

    Get engaging stories and helpful information all year long. Join our college parent newsletter!

    Subscribe Today