When a girl at my elementary school is assigned a gender, it’s the first time she’s felt like a boy.
“I think that’s what’s so cool about being transgender, is that you can feel confident and like, okay, I’m a girl,” says 19-year-old Sarah L. Healy.
“And I think that when we’re all part and parcel of this whole thing, then that’s kind of what it’s all about.”
Sarah is one of the few transgender children in a small Texas school, and her experiences at her school in the city of Dallas, which has a long history of discrimination against transgender students, are an example of how parents can support their children and help to change the culture.
In the United States, the number of transgender people is increasing, but it’s still hard to know if it’s just a matter of time before more parents and teachers become aware of the needs of their kids.
“Parents should know that transgender children are kids who need to be respected and welcomed and loved,” says Kourtney Johnson, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, a nonprofit advocacy group.
“We’re all going to need to work together.”
“Parents can help kids feel safe by giving them a space to express themselves, not telling them what to do,” says Sara Sonderman, a pediatrician who founded the Transgender Kids & Coaching Foundation, which supports transgender kids in their school years.
She hopes the foundation’s educational initiatives and programs can help teachers, parents, and schools make those conversations easier.
“A lot of these conversations come down to the kids, the parents, the teachers,” she says.
“The teachers are going to have to talk about it, and the parents are going be a part of it, but the kids are going have to do it, too.”
Here are some steps that parents can take to make their children feel like a girl and a boy at home: 1.
Give your child a name, a pronoun, and a name for the gender marker that’s on the box.
(Some kids have trouble identifying gender by their own names, so they prefer to be called “the boy,” “the girl,” or “they.”)
“Gender identity” is a term that describes a person’s identity or gender expression.
Gender is usually assigned at birth.
It can be assigned to boys, girls, transgender people, nonbinary people, or intersex people.
Some people are born with male or female gender markers on their bodies, but these are usually assigned to them through prenatal and childhood sex-reassignment surgery.
“Gender” is usually written in a way that makes it easy for children to understand and use.
But some kids don’t use pronouns or have names that match their gender.
“Pronouns” can be written in different ways.
The most common ones are male or feminine, which can be used for pronouns, like “he” or “she.”
You can also say, “he’s a boy,” or say “he is a girl.”
Some kids don to be confused with a person by another name.
For example, “My friend is a boy.”
But if a child has two or more names that are written differently, then it may be better to use a pronoun that’s not used in other names.
For more information, check out the American Psychological Association’s guidelines on how to use gender-neutral pronouns.
Provide a safe place for your child to express their gender identity.
(It’s a good idea to make sure your child has a gender-appropriate room for him or her to express this way, but that doesn’t mean you have to lock your bedroom door.)
A safe space for a child to play with or dress like the gender they identify with is one where they can’t be bullied or harassed.
Children who are scared of being bullied at school or at home can have a safe space that is not crowded or crowded with other kids.
If a child is in a crowded room, they can be in a closet or closeted area.
If there’s a loud noise or someone is talking, they may want to be quiet.
For parents and caregivers who want to provide a space for their children to express who they are, these suggestions are great: Use a quiet room for your kid.