An Airdrie author whose child came out as transgender at the age of 11 has published a new book that touches on her own candid experiences, and acts as a guide for other parents of trans kids to help them navigate the transition, including practical advice and real-life insight.
Tammy Plunkett – a mother of four kids who each identify as Queer – is a registered nurse, writing coach, advocate, author and international speaker. She recently launched her new book, Beyond Pronouns: The Essential Guide for Parents of Trans Children, which is available for purchase as of June 21.
The Airdrie-based writer said she hopes book helps answer the many key questions parents of trans children might have, while also addressing the need for parents to be supportive and feel supported so they can care for their child in the first 100 days of their transition and beyond.
“I secretly lived with fear and doubt, and I went through a grieving process for the child I thought I knew,” Plunkett said of her own child (Mitchell’s) transition.
“I started capturing my thoughts and experiences. I couldn’t be the only one to be going through this.”
At the time of her child’s transition, Plunkett began a search for helpful advice for her own family, but all she could find were suggestions from doctors and psychologists. She said there wasn’t much parent-to-parent advice available, and she struggled with whether she was making the right decisions for her child.
She added her book aims to alleviate some of parents’ common fears and pressing questions about the process, so they won’t feel alone or scared during the transition.
“There’s a whole lot of parents who want to support their child but don’t know how,” she said in an interview. “And we’re just overwhelmed with information and emotions. I could hear from parents over and over they need this book as well.”
Plunkett said she co-leads Parenting with Pride, which is a division of the Airdrie Pride Society. Through hearing feedback from other parents over the last five years, she has witnessed some of the same questions being asked time and time again.
“That also informed what I needed to write about in the book,” she said. “I focus mainly on what you would face in those first 100 days, and through all of that advice, I use our own story to illustrate how we went through it all.”
She added the book provides parents with prompts to have important conversations with their child, advice on how to be a good LGBTQ2S+ ally, and age-appropriate approaches to parenting that aim for a happy and connected family.
The most important thing Plunkett hopes Beyond Pronouns achieves is that parents feel supported so they can in turn support their children, she said.
“I make a very concerted effort in this book to help parents put on their oxygen mask first, because if a child transitions, it’s the parent who’s buying the clothes,” she said. “It’s the parent who’s speaking to the school. It’s the parent who ends up making a legal name change, if they choose to do that.
“The parent has a lot of tasks and a lot of emotions, and I wanted to support those parents because in the end, supporting the parents helps the children and it keeps the children feeling affirmed.”
Plunkett said parents will also gain some insight into how to champion their trans child in their life, while being encouraged to take time to connect with themselves and attend to self-care.
“My number-one goal is to help parents through this often unplanned but deeply rewarding journey with their trans children so they can be an amazing ally to their courageous kids,” she added in the press statement.
Beyond Pronouns is available for purchase at Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Chapters, Amazon.ca, as well as at select independent bookstores. It is also available in e-book and audiobook formats as well.
Plunkett will be available at Crowchild Indigo in Calgary for a book signing on June 30 and will appear as a gust on CTV’s The Social and The Marilyn Denis Show this week.