Silence No Longer, Families

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.  -Dr. Maya Angelou

I’m going to ask you a few pointed questions up front, I sincerely hope you don’t mind.

Still there? Brilliant! Here goes…

If you’ve children under your care (as a parent, guardian, foster parent, grandparent, auntie, uncle, or myriad other ways children might grace your life) have you talked to them about the concept of a trans identity, especially, that of trans youth, transgender children, or non-binary youth?

If you have, what lead you to bridge this conversation with the children around you and how’d it go? (Oh goodness, I wish I could connect with you. Maybe send us an email if you want to share your story…one can hope, right?).

If you haven’t, what’s stopping you?

Perhaps…

  • …it’s not occurred to you to do this yet?
  • …you feel your children are too young?
  • …you think they’ll learn about this identity from the schools they attend?
  • …you think this topic doesn’t affect your family, so why bridge the conversation with your children right now?
  • …the topic makes you feel unsure, uneasy, or nervous to talk about?
  • …there are other things creating obstacles for you to venture into a conversation around this topic?
  • …you’ve been considering it, but you’re not quite sure what you might say to your children, other family or community members?

I understand. It’s complicated, right?

Tonight, my focus is on those of you who haven’t ventured into a conversation about a trans youth identity with your children, which I might wager to guess is the majority of you? Not sure, but that’s the feeling I get from the world around me these days, especially since the events of the last eight months have unfolded in layers of deeply felt horror in the communities I’m a part of. Why, you might ask, am I going to focus on those of you who haven’t yet broached this conversation with your children? Because. Really, it’s my earnest hope that by the end of this thought piece, you’ll find it in your heart to rethink the obstacles preventing you from having this conversation with those little ones around you, dive right in, and make your way through your first (of many to come, I hope) conversations about a trans youth identity.

Disclaimer: there is no “one” trans identity, as there is no single narrative that defines any of the myriad identities that we all hold dear to define ourselves. Everyone lives a life that is uniquely different, based on time, space, born and identified identities, and so on, right? With that said, though, I’d assert it shouldn’t prevent you from venturing into an open and honest conversation with your children about the fact that trans children do indeed exist in our societal landscape, in our communities, in our neighborhoods this very moment. Trans children exist all around you and your children. In your children’s schools. On their sports teams. Sitting right next to you in your house of worship or on the train as you travel to work. Trans children are in line in front of you at the grocery store and grabbing a bite to eat at your local diner. They are walking down the street past you holding their family’s hands for safety, just as your own children do yours. You may never know just how many trans children you and your very own children come in contact with throughout your daily life, as many prefer to live a life of anonymity and not reveal to the general public their identity for personal reasons, and truly, you should never assume one’s gender identity at a glance, especially that of a child, but you’ve met a few trans children, as have your children, without ever knowing it. I’m pretty comfortable stating this as a truth. And, you and your children will meet more trans youth as you progress through your lifetime. You’ve such a beautiful opportunity right now, yes, this summer, to jump into your first conversation with your children about a trans youth identity. Tonight, it’s about bravery and acting in a just way.

So, not to dissuade you from jumping into a thoughtful conversation on this topic with your children, but I want to briefly unpack a few of the reasons adults have named as to why they haven’t jumped into this conversation with the little ones around them yet. My intent in unpacking these reasons is to offer you some novel thinking that may help you unpack the rationale behind this kind of thinking and ultimately help you dismantle the validity of each reason. Truth be told, for transparency sake. I most certainly do not intend to deny these reasons live in validity in some adult’s minds, as I respect everyone’s initial hesitation to jump head first into uncharted territories with their children. With that said, however, what I cannot respect, again for transparency’s sake, is the notion that with new information and learning, we do nothing with it to change our actions.

“When you gain new insight, it is really important to change your life to match your new understanding. To choose not to change is to embrace ignorance.” A brilliant mentor of mine stated these powerful words that have echoed through my mind and heart ever since I heard them stated. They sliced me in such a visceral way. You, as well? It is my eternal hope, that after reading this thought piece, seeking to grow your knowledge a bit more, checking out a resource or two (some great ones can be found here), and thinking more deeply about what your true role of influence is as you follow alongside your children through life’s windy path, you seek to begin having these conversations with the children in your life. My stance: to do nothing with the new insight you gain, to not shift your actions going forward, even ever so slightly, is to embrace ignorance. Harsh? I don’t think so, at least I hope not. Honest and direct, completely. As Dr. Maya Angelou once famously named, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” I hope that by the end of this reading, you’ll know more, enabling you to do more, to do better for all our precious children.

Roll up your sleeves, we’ve work to do unpacking some of these adult reasons for not engaging in conversations with their children about a trans youth identity. But guess what you’ll find at the end of this proverbial rainbow? The ways inclusive adults in my life have engaged with their own children about a trans youth identity. I want to provide you a bit of a road map as you edge closer to beginning this work with your own children this week, this month, this summer.

It’s not occurred to me to talk about a trans youth identity yet.

Beautiful, I hope by the end of reading this, and perhaps some of the other posts on our Journey Project Blog (found here) or our Resources for Families (found here) it now occurs to you to do so.

Aren’t my children a bit too young for this conversation?

When did you first realize you were a boy? A girl? It’s a real question. Consider and then keep that age in your mind. Perhaps four, five, maybe six years of age, right? Well, that’s the same for transgender children and trans youth. Research has shown that children as young as these ages know their gender identity. Sometimes this gender matches the gender they were assigned at birth by the doctor (based often solely on external sex characteristics). The name for individuals who identity this way is cisgender. But sometimes, the gender we were assigned at birth by the medical team does not match the gender we’ve come to realize defines us (or perhaps a gender that’s more fluid, non-binary—neither completely male or female, or no gender at all). When our gender assigned at birth does not correspond to the gender we identify with, even at the young ages of four, five, six, a child might self-identity as transgender, trans, gender non-binary, gender fluid, gender non-conforming, agender, gender expansive, gender creative, or a myriad additional terms individuals have the beautiful opportunity to self-identity as. My point here? If your children are three, four, five, six or older, nope, they are not too young to venture into a conversation around a trans identity, because chances are, they’ll have friends at preschool or in kindergarten or at daycare or in your neighborhood who identify as trans.

They’ll learn about this identity from the schools they attend, won’t they?

Perhaps, perhaps not. It really depends. What I’ve found to be true over this past year of researching this very exact thing across this nation, when it comes to public elementary schools jumping into this work of inclusive classrooms that privilege gender expansive youth, including transgender children, it depends on state, school district, school, grade level, and teacher. So much depends on so many factors, that I’d be comfortable to state that your child has probably gone to school and never heard an adult in that space utter the words transgender child or read a book that included a trans character to their class. Just as you might feel it’s a bit tricky to navigate as a parent, teachers have a myriad reasons why it’s just as tricky for them to navigate with their students. Those that I’ve had the pleasure of learning alongside as a colleague have the intent to delve into these conversations, but perhaps not the support of those around or above them. Other activist educators are venturing into this work in boldly inclusive ways. What I can tell you is a sentiment from some school districts, those that represent perhaps more conservative communities: let’s trust the parents will decide when to talk to their own children about matters such as this. Well, if that’s a sentiment that pervades the nation, therein lies the paradox: if parents are waiting for schools to delve in and schools are waiting for parents to delve in, no one delves in, no one talks about this year after year, and we maintain the status quo stance that “we don’t really talk about those things with young children.”

Deep breath. Sigh. Not just. Not one little bit. You can sense my frustration. I assume you’d feel the exact same way if something you wanted to happen to badly was caught in a circular argument.

Let’s continue to unpack.

This topic doesn’t affect my family, so I’m not sure what the need is to bridge this conversation with my children right now.

To unpack this point of view, I’m going to draw some parallels from a recent Heinemann podcast on Dismantling Racism in Education (you can find a link here — it’s a breathtaking conversation and you must listen to it soon, if you haven’t already). Where the educators spoke of dismantling racism, I’m going to parallel that to the dismantling of transphobic notions. Where they centered much of the conversation around the realm of our schooling system, I’m going to center my thoughts in our homes and community spaces we share with children. I appreciate the generous leeway to draw on their brilliance. Heinemann author and educator Sonja Cherry-Paul’s brilliance in the podcast moved me and one particular thing she said really spoke to me. She asserted, “We can get better at having these conversations about race and racism. They can be more fluid. But the way for that to happen is not to not have them. To have them more. In my work, I’ve been reading a lot of research. There was a study that said 75 percent of white families never or almost never talk to their children about race. When we just think about the intent behind that, whatever it is, if we just ask ourselves, is there any evidence that this assumption works? That our kids are going to be more tolerant and more accepting if we don’t talk about race? Where is the evidence for that? It’s certainly not true in 2017. It’s not true in 2014. If we all just don’t talk about it, we’re going to have these children that grow up to be really amazing. That’s not what they do. They grow up and they take these silences and they try to attach some sort of meaning to it, because they’ve been forced to work it out themselves.”

Powerful, right? When I heard her state that 75 percent of white families never or almost never talk to their children about race, I froze. It was truth ring from her voice to my ears. I think about my own two boys, both in single digits, my youngest can count the number of years he’s been alive on one hand. As a white person, raising two white children, racism touches their lives because unless they learn to actively take steps to address, dismantle, and work against overt and systemic racism, their inaction and complacency to stand against it deems them part of the problem of racism. In the same podcast, Heinemann author and educator Cornelius Minor drew an analogy between racism and sexual violence. He named so clearly, racism “isn’t something that was created by people of color. It isn’t something that is perpetuated by people of color. It isn’t something that people of color benefit from. When I think about solutions to racism, people of color can’t be the only folks doing the work. It has to be white folks doing the work…it has to be white folks saying that this has no place in my community.” I’ve been actively doing this work he speaks about for a while now with my two boys because I know it’s the just thing to do and also, some of their dearest friends are children from a multi-racial family. In our family, we talk about race and racism a lot, more lately. We talk about it when another black body is murdered, especially when it’s that of a child. We engage in conversations about law enforcement and my boy’s role in interacting with law enforcement as they grow older. We watched the PBS documentary “The Talk: Race in America” (you can find the link here, it’s really vital you watch it if you haven’t already) and then engaged in a conversation about it. I constantly tell my boys there is more that I don’t know than I do know, but my stance as a learner is what’s crucial to making steps toward more justice for those around us. I’ve never personally experienced overt racism directed toward me, but I’ve occupied spaces in my nearly forty years on this planet where due to the color of my skin, I’ve witnessed the baseness of racist comments and discussions. The moment I’ve opened my mouth to push back against these comments, there’s been a palpable shift, mouths quiet, stances change, and no longer are these comments said around me. I suspect they continue to be said, but not in my presence, as those assumed my stance on racism was dictated by the color of my skin. How wrong they’ve been. So, you’re wondering why I’m speaking to you about all of this. Because, I actively work to be part of the 25 percent of families that does talk about race and racism with young children that Sonja’s research spoke about. I actively take on these conversations with my boys because it matters and as Cornelius said, “It has to be white folks doing the work…it has to be white folks saying that this has no place in my community.” As parents, we are powerful in our children’s lives, do the work. It’s a step toward dismantling racism in the spaces we’ve influence over—our homes, neighborhoods, community spaces.

I ask you now to follow me into my analogy into transphobia. I am a mother of an elementary-aged visible transgender child. I am cisgender. So, too, is my youngest child. We talk about the trans identity all the time in our home. We journey with my oldest in the fiercest way: we are one another’s accomplices in life. Always. As a white person, I agree that racism was not created or perpetuated by people of color and they most steadfastly do not benefit from it, transphobia was not created by or perpetuated by trans individuals nor do they benefit from it. In actuality, the cisgender-created transphobia has caused the trans community tremendous lifelong pain, hurt, and in far too many cases, self-inflicted death and violent murder as a result. So, just as you may be a cisgender person and those in your family are as well, talk about the existence of a trans identity, especially that of a trans youth identity. Name this as an identity that exists in our communities. Make the invisibility of this identity, that so many of our trans kids feel, visible in your home—namely, talk about it.

Not sure how? Below, I’ll delve into that…

Perhaps the topic makes you feel unsure, uneasy, or nervous to talk about?

I’m going to lean on another hero of mine featured on that Heinemann podcast I keep bouncing ideas off of (you really must pause a moment if you’ve not listened to it yet and then come right back. For real.). Heinemann author and literacy coach Sara Ahmed spoke directly to this notion of engaging in conversations even if we’re uneasy and unsure of what to say. Although the context with which she spoke to was about racism, I’d like to open her words to encapsulate conversations such as that of trans youth. She stated, “…we don’t have to have the answers when we approach the conversation, right? You can approach the conversation with humility. As a society, we are always looking to have the answer at the end of a conversation. But if we leave that conversation asking more questions, then democracy can evolve. We can progress our democracy if we are asking more questions than having to be confident that we have the answers to everything.” This is incredibly true, right? We often feel nervous and unsure of how to engage in conversations when we don’t know enough or don’t want to say the wrong thing, but Sara urges us to bring our most humble self to the conversation, embody a stance as learner who does not have all the answers, and that through dialogue and discovery of new questions, we grow more inclusive and more progress toward evolving democracy. There is so much in what she layered here, but the one idea I want to pull from her thoughts is this: we are never going to know everything about a topic; that’s impossible, so don’t let your feelings of not knowing about a trans youth identity personally prevent you from approaching a conversation about a trans youth identity with your children. The humility you model to your children when you are open to talking about things you don’t know about but want know more about shows your children you’re a learner too, willing to be honest and transparent with your thinking, and show them that it’s more important you stand on the side of talking about the diversity of life’s gifts instead of shying away from talking about topics of life. That stance you embody is almost more important than what you respectfully attempt to say.

There are other things creating obstacles for me to venture into a conversation around this topic with my kids.

I get it. I’ve heard many reasons that adults state that create obstacles for venturing into this conversation with children. Believe me, SO many reasons. I’d still urge you to critically reexamine these reasons and see how you might build pathways around them that lead to an open conversation with your children. I just must insist that you at least consider reexamining your reasons.

I’m considering opening this conversation with my children, and perhaps with others in my family or community, but I’m not quite sure what I might say.

Absolutely. It can be daunting to venture into a conversation that seems out of our wheelhouse. That’s were our shared stories have the brilliant effect of building community, compassion with one another, and the opportunity for you to live another’s experiences before it becomes your reality in your family. What follows is your opportunity to do just what a favorite author spoke of when he so famously said “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…the man who never reads lives only one” -George R. R. Martin. You have the opportunity, my reader, to live through a few vignettes, in the parent’s own words, of how they’ve bridged conversations with the children and other adults in their lives, with regards to a trans youth identity. These are all cisgender adults raising or in the lives of children, whether their own, or as coaches, or community members. The children in their lives are, at present, cisgender children, but life’s revelations happen at many ages…

Garden Grows

So, I’m in my car with the kids after their last day at school. I’ve got two newly minted fourth grader boys in the back seat and a brand new eighth grade girl in the front seat. The boys were chatting about building forts and my daughter was talking to me about her friends. She has a friend who just started dating a guy who dated two other girls and one boy this year. My daughter informs me that he’s bi. She then tells me she has a friend that’s pan. I asked her how “pan” was different and she said she had to Google it, but essentially, she thinks it means that the person falls in love with another person regardless of their sex or gender. While I think about that, she mentions a girl in her grade that she thinks is trans because she dresses like a boy. I ask her how the girl identifies and she says she doesn’t know her well enough. So, I said, “Maybe you shouldn’t label her trans until you know her better because she may not identify as trans.” 

Just then, the talking in the back seat stopped and my son’s friend piped up, “There’s a kid in my class whose trans!” He turns to my son, “You know him.” My son agrees because yes, our whole family knows him. The friend continues, “He’s really nice. He’s just super shy. I can understand that because I used to be shy, too.” 

I glance into the back seat to see his expression and realize he’s just being matter-of-fact about the whole thing. I find this a little surprising because I know his mother is a rather conservative Christian who has specifically told me that she thinks gay people are “not natural” and “weird”. I had asked her if she grew up around gay people or knew any and she said no. I then explained that I had and I did and my impression is that gay people are born that way and they are really no different from us. I didn’t lecture, but I wanted to say more. So, I went on to share some personal stories in order to plant a seed that I hoped would grow over time. With this in mind, I said to my son’s friend, “You know, he might be shy because he’s worried people will bully him. I bet he would feel better knowing that you two boys would stick up for him if anyone said something mean.”

My son agreed. His friend, said, “Oh yeah, but he might still be super shy. Some people are just shy.” I said, “Yeah, you know, some people are just born that way.” My daughter looked at me and we exchanged smiles.

The conversation continued as my son’s friend reach out some more. He said to me, “Did you know the new Kindergarten teacher is gay?”

“Wow,” I said, “That’s great. Is he good with kids? Do you like him?” I knew the boys had seen him on the playground.

“Oh yes, he’s just a regular person. He’s nice.” So, I decided to press a little. I said, “What does your mom think?”

“Oh, she hates him! But I like him.” I was so surprised by his frankness that I just glanced into the back and saw my son nodding at his friend and giving him encouragement. I waited a bit to see if he had anything else to say. The boys went back to talking about forts.

We pulled up to my house and walked inside. I apologized to my son’s friend that it was a little messy. The kids had not cleaned up their books or toys from the night before and the living room looked a little messy. My son’s friend looked at me and said, “It’s ok. I don’t mind. I love it here. I want to live here.” I couldn’t help but smile and feel all warm inside. Whatever is going on in that kid’s life, he feels comfortable exploring his feelings and the world around him when he is with us. I hope that the seeds planted by a shy trans boy in his class and a nice gay Kindergarten teacher will continue to grow and bloom. I’m more than happy to offer him water whenever he comes over.

I am new to this kind of gardening. As a teacher, I have researched and been trained in the fundamentals of child development. But where are the case studies and academic suggestions for parents or teachers navigating these conversations with our newest generation who is rapidly exploring, defining, and creating new language around sex, gender, sexuality, and identity? I find myself buried in my daughter’s Teen Vogue to learn the latest. Basically, I am letting the kids guide me until the world of academia can catch up! I am simply following my instincts and doing my best. I’m probably going to make mistakes but I will own them and make amends. Meanwhile, I will model an open mind, provide a safe place for conversation, and give unconditional love. I can’t wait to see the garden grow. ️

Unconditional Love

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”—Angela Schwindt A year ago, my very good friend came to me to share that her daughter was transgender and would now be identifying as a boy. Our families have been friends since her child was two and mine was just an infant (they are now 9 and 7). Our families have shared play dates, BBQ’s, and family camping trips. At the time, my perspective was to emotionally support my friend in any way she needed as she navigated a new reality of advocacy and support for her child.

A few weeks later, we were getting together for a play date. It was time for me to talk to my two children about what it means to be transgender and wanting so badly for them to be at that play date and be the friends they needed to be. I sat the kids down and explained to them that their friend that they know as a girl feels strongly in her heart that she is a boy and will now be living life as a boy. I explained that it means that she will be dressing as a boy, we will say he instead of she, and she has changed her name. My daughter accepted, in such a simple way of true unconditional love, this truth for her friend. It was very simple for her: she wanted her friend to be happy. She also thought it was amazing that he changed his name and she too wanted to change her name to Katy Perry. I quickly explained to my daughter that unless she is transgender or 18, she is not going to change her name! They arrived for the play date and for the kids, it was basically as if nothing had changed. For a while, my daughter was a little advocate for her friend. If anyone would use his previous name or accidentally say her or she, she would be the first one to correct them. She especially loved to correct the adults because it took them a little bit longer to adjust because of habit.

There are many times in my life where I feel that my job as a mother is the daunting task of teaching my daughter an overwhelming amount of lessons each day. How to work hard and be proud of your work, how to navigate friendships, how to be responsible, how to be loving. My daughter is a wonderful teacher for me on how to unconditionally love the people who are close to us and hold their happiness above all else, including gender.

Hearts and Minds

My eight-year-old son and I were riding in silence in the car together when he said “Mom, do you know what I think is boring?”  I reply, “No, what do you think is boring?” he continues, “I think it is boring that there are only boys and girls.” I responded to my son with a question: “Do you think there are only boys and girls or do you think people can be something else?” “People can decide to be something else,” he said, “but there are only boys and girls.” 

As my conversation with my son continued, it occurred to me that he did not have the language for what he was attempting to express.  In that same moment, it occurred to me that I did not have the language either and that it is important for my son to know that he can be his total self with me. We talked about his transgender peer.  We talked about his peers who have two moms and two dads. I told my son that the most important parts of people are there hearts and minds. He told me that “people should get to be something different.”

We Are Who We Are

In second grade, we were crossing the crosswalk to our cars.  C said very loudly, “I have a penis!  I have a penis!”  Later that night, I talked to my daughter, R, about it, since C is her best friend.  R told me, “C says if we pull on the little thing between our legs, it will become a penis.”  She has always been so accepting and not judgmental of C, I loved that about her, it was just all no big deal.  I explained to her how she wouldn’t just grow a penis, but sometimes people are born in the body that isn’t right for them, and that C could have a penis one day if he transitions to being a boy (at the time, he was still living as a girl at school).  My two kids had a lot of questions about it, and I explained what being transgender means.  Both of them took it so matter-of-fact, it was not a big deal at all.  My son’s only concern was “I hope C never has to have surgery,” because in his mind, surgery was scary.  It was interesting to me how the children understood it immediately and it was simple and not a big deal. 

I am so grateful they know C.  I feel so blessed that they can experience, at such a young age, that life is full of surprises, that people are so very different, and it’s a much better world when we accept each other and are kind.  There is no need to control other people, to tell them how to live.  R was so happy the day there was an “All Gender” bathroom sign at their elementary school.  She was unhappy when the sign was removed.  I was able to explain to her that not everyone in the world is accepting, but all we can do is continue spreading kindness and acceptance.  They know being transgender is just another thing in the world, just as people are different colors, speak different languages, live in apartments or houses in different cities.  It’s just not a big deal. I think the adults make it into something more, due to their own fears or prejudices.  Children see it’s just not a big deal, we are who we are.

Out on That Field

It was the fall soccer season and the kids were in second grade.  It was the team parent meeting, and then the coach got the girls in a circle on the ground, with me as assistant coach part of the circle too.  The coach said something about there being seven girls on the team.  Then J tapped my arm or somehow got my attention, and I didn’t hear what the coach continued to say.  J’s face was serious and he said to me, “Just so you know, when we are out on that field, there will NOT be seven girls.  There will be six girls and me.  I’m a boy.”  I just said something like “Sure, of course,” because what else is there to say to that?  If J says he’s a boy, he’s a boy. 

He Spoke Out and People Listened

We were making posters for a Girl Scout food drive.  D asked if he could put “Boy Scouts” on the poster, too.  I loved having him in our troop, but it made me sad that it was focused so much on girls.  I never would have thought of that without having D in our troop back then. For the Daisy Tea, he seemed traumatized almost, he was very unhappy to be at such a “girly” event, with dresses and bows.  I am glad he was able to express his feelings, though, and didn’t smother and hide them and just act the part of a girl.  He spoke out and people listened.

Addressing Other Parents

One adult I remember said, “I think W is too young to make this decision.  Do you think his parents are pushing it?  Why doesn’t he wait until high school?”  I was glad to be there, to be able to talk to this adult about what being transgender means.  To ask this person, what if you felt you were in the wrong body, wrong gender?  Would you want to wait years, in discomfort and distress?  I was able to explain how gender is not the same as sexuality.  And how judging someone else is pointless anyway.  It’s discouraging that adults still have fixed, rigid, judgmental ideas like that.  But it’s the world we live in.  Some people have to experience something themselves before they believe it, I suppose.  I know if this person knew W the way I know W, there would be no question and no judgment.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

You matter. You matter a great deal to me and families like mine. If you are one of those adults who does talk about this with the children in your life, please do me a solid. Talk to your friends, adult family members, and other adults in your realms of influence. Share you story of how you began having these conversations with your children. Then, urge them to do the same. Won’t you consider this? It matters that you talk about a trans youth identity with your children. It matters that my kid and his trans peers don’t journey through life with their identities rendered invisible because of our inability or unwillingness to talk to our children about it. I’ve loved the work of radical feminist Adrienne Rich for some time now and have quoted her before, and now, I will again. “When someone with the authority of a teacher, say, describes the world and you are not in it, there is a moment of psychic disequilibrium, as if you looked into a mirror and saw nothing. Yet you know you exist and others like you, that this is a game done with mirrors. It takes some strength of soul — and not just individual strength, but collective understanding — to resist this void . . . and to stand up, demanding to be seen and heard.”

What if we substitute the word ‘teacher’ for ‘parent’ or ‘guardian’ or ‘influential adult in your life’? What would happen then? I’ll tell you: it would be violence against our youth. By refusing to acknowledge the beautifully complex identities of trans youth in our communities, we conceivably erase their personhood from existence in our communities, our schools, our places of worship, our sports teams, our youth activities, our neighborhoods, our homes, our lives.

That, my reader, is not acceptable, it never has been. I implore you: join me, and those other adults I’ve featured through their words in this thought piece and others in your community, in a sweeping movement to take steps toward talking to our children about the things that matter, not only matter to me and to other families journeying with incredible trans youth, but matter to you and your family, too, if we are to progress toward a more inclusive, equitable, and just world for ALL of our breathtaking children.

___

Published with permission from adult allies in our advocacy network . -C

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