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Can my trans sister/brother live with me if they run away?

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  • Can my trans sister/brother live with me if they run away?

    I am 25, living in Kansas with my husband.

    First I want to explain, my female sibling wants to be male and a man. But currently is living as a girl, and has not come out of the closet to hardly anyone but me and 1 other family member. At this point I do not know what pronouns I should use and if I should call them brother or for the purpose of this post, I will call them "J."

    "J" will be 16 years old in a couple weeks, and J asked me if they ran away from home, if they could stay with me, due to emotional abuse at home. I told J that I didnt know if it was legal for them to run away and live with me...but could visit anytime they had permission to do so, and that I'd even come pick them up if needed.

    J is afraid that our mom, and her dad will react badly when they come out and tell them that J wants to be a boy. I know for a fact that they will not care about J's feelings whatsoever. Plus the fact that J's father is homophobic, and J is also in the closet bi-sexual... we are not expecting a good reaction from them. Our mother MIGHT be fine with it, but she is notorious for putting her man before her children.

    J is afraid that when they come our to the parents that they will be kicked out of the house, or suffer further emotional abuse. My husband and I have room and the means to take care of J and have J live with us...we have already discussed J living with us and we have decided to take care of J if/when it comes down to it.

    I guess that I have several questions to ask. Number 1 being, is it illegal for J to run away from home? Is it legal for us to let J live with us? And what do we do to get us recognized as J's guardians and enroll J in school? Would we be able to get assistance financially and emotionally? If J got kicked out, could we take J in? Or would J need to be emancipated? Is emotional abuse enough reason to get custody of J?

    J has told us that they do not know when they will tell the parents, and I don't think J will run away unless I get information for them and it's not illegal. I want to be prepared if/when it happens and I'm looking for resources wherever I can to help my sibling...if anyone has advice on this matter, I'd love to hear it.

    I know this forum is for runaway situations, but if anyone has advice for helping and taking care of a transgender teen, I would appreciate that as well...I am completely supportive of my siblings feelings, but I have so many questions about this that would perhaps be better answered in another forum.

    Please refrain from negative comments about transgender people...I just want advice on the situation.

    Thank you.

  • #2

    Thank you so, so much for reaching out and for advocating for your sibling. They are very lucky to have you in their corner and you sound like an amazingly kind, supportive, and accepting person—thank you for that! You asked good questions and while we’re not legal experts, we can definitely try to answer them to the best of our ability. However, we also encourage you to reach out to a local family lawyer to get clearer answers from a legal expert (if you have trouble locating an affordable resource, please feel free to give us a call).
    First, it is not technically “illegal” for a young person to run away. It is a status offense, meaning that it’s simply something J. can’t do because of their age. If J. runs away, your mom would have the right to file a runaway report and if the police are able to locate them, they will simply be returned home. There is a possibility that you could be charged with harboring a runaway (which is a misdemeanor), but it’s not a charge that we see often and to our knowledge your mother would have to decide to press charges against you. If there is abuse going on at home, though, in our experience it seems unlikely that this charge would even be brought up (though again we are not legal experts). The easiest way to avoid any issues with the police is for J. to get permission from your mom to stay with you. If they have permission, there shouldn’t be any need for emancipation. If J. is kicked out, then we assume your mother would not file a runaway report and in this case there should be no issue with them staying with you (however, your mother could be charged for neglect, as she is responsible for J. until they become a legal adult).
    You mentioned that there is emotional abuse going on at home. This can be difficult to prove and so sometimes police aren’t willing to consider it. A good resource that you might reach out to for your questions regarding abuse would be the National Child Abuse Hotline. Their number is 1-800-422-4453. This hotline can help you file an abuse report for your sibling if you’d like to do that, but can also answer questions about what constitutes abuse.
    Regarding your question about how to support trans teens, there are definitely resources out there. Being open and willing to listen and learn is a great first step, so again thank you for that. We encourage you to look into resources like the Trevor Project at Here is a link to a page specifically on gender and trans issues on that website: . You might also consider reaching out to the LGBT National Hotline, as they may also have great resources to refer you to. Their number is 1-888-843-4564. You might also consider asking J. if they have any preferences for their pronouns and if they have any suggestions for how you can support them better (if they’re comfortable talking with you about it, of course).
    Thank you again for reaching out. We hope that this information was helpful and we wish you both the best of luck. We welcome your feedback of our forum services at the following link: . If you would like to speak more specifically about your situation, please feel free to call us 24/7 at 1-800-786-2929.
    Please remember you can reach us directly by calling our 24 hour hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or through our Live Chat.

    National Runaway Safeline
    [email protected] (Crisis Email)
    1-800-RUNAWAY (24 Hour Hotline)

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