What a Kindergartener Can Teach You About Gender Identity

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/beth-kohm/what-a-kindergartener-can-teach-you-about-gender-identity_b_3768399.html


08/17/2013

The Fox News/CNN dust-ups over California’s recently signed nondiscrimination law for transgender students have been on the edge of my radar all week. That being said, my rainbow issues outside work have been mostly limited to finding the seven different colors of folders that are on my two sons’ back-to-school supply lists. The other night, though, I finally had a chance to watch the two different segments that have generated so much buzz. I reacted to them as a parent.

During the CNN segment on the new law, the Transgender Law Center’s Masen Davis was interviewed along with another panelist. This derisive man signed off after speaking to Davis (a transgender man) and the female host by saying, “Hey, good to talk to you ladies,” plural. Really?! I immediately thought of my pre-tween son, because I spend a lot of my parenting efforts these days admonishing him for making even less obnoxious remarks. In that respect he is a typical 9-year-old boy, but I do not think any adult should feel particularly proud of engaging in the sort of behavior that’s typical of a 9-year-old.

The Fox News segment included a lot of speculation about what a kindergartener would do. Ironically, while the Fox commentators ended the segment by throwing their hands in the air and conceding that they just can’t wrap their heads around what being transgender is, my other son had it covered.

About six months ago my 6-year-old, Joshua, walked into our room while my husband Bob and I were watching a show in which the word “transgender” came up. He asked, “Mom, what is ‘transgender’?” For a moment I hesitated over how to respond. In my work persona, I still worry that I might use the wrong pronouns or just generally not get it right on trans issues and unintentionally hurt some great people. Should I quote the American Academy of Pediatrics research? Should I cite resources from PFLAG and Gender Spectrum?

I took a deep breath, and my mommy persona took over; I always try to answer questions from my sons as honestly and age-appropriately as I can. I simply explained as best as I could what being transgender is, but I also said that it’s a very complicated topic that sometimes even grownups struggle with. Joshua thought about it for a moment and then issued his surprising response: “No, it isn’t, Mom. It is just like my Lego Ninjagos when I put the male heads on the female bodies. No biggie. Can I have a cookie?” The whole exchange took three minutes.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/beth-kohm/what-a-kindergartener-can-teach-you-about-gender-identity_b_3768399.html

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