Accepting Differences in Gender Identity

Before Alex and Nathan were born, I spent a lot of time thinking about names—most importantly, the meaning of the name. Only Nathanial means gift of God (he was also born the day before my birthday), but both of them have been great blessings. I loved being a “boy mom.” I’m proud of the adults they have become.

About a month ago, my younger child said he needed to talk to me. “Mom, do you know what gender dysphoria is?” And I went from suspecting that I might have a gay son to finding out that I have a daughter. A daughter who is happier than I have seen her since she was a tween. A daughter who now openly talks about her feelings. A daughter who is excited about her future. A daughter who has more courage and strength than I have.

Those are the changes that I see.  But for the most part, Ashley is not much different than the old Nathan. She thinks everyone should be treated fairly and equally. She is good at saving money. She reads mostly fantasy and other speculative fiction, likes to play Dungeons & Dragons, prefers action movies to rom/coms, and would rather wear jeans than fancy clothes. She loves broccoli and likes fruit on her pizza.

And I have re-discovered just how understanding and compassionate her older brother is.

Though neither of their names expressly state it, both Alex and Ashley are gifts from God. I’m still proud of the adults they have become.  And I still love being a mom.

As more and more transgender people come out and stand up for justice, public acceptance toward them has improved, but there is still a long way to go before they are treated like our fellow human beings. And until they are, the discrimination they face can be severe. They are mistreated and harassed, sometimes violently. They face economic hardship and instability and are often homeless, especially transgender teens whose parents reject them. And as reported in a national study, 40% of transgender adults have made a suicide attempt (nine times the rate of the general population); 92% of these attempts were made before the age of 25.

Though you might think you don’t know anyone who is transgender, most people do but aren’t aware of it. The books and websites listed below are good starting places for information.

Reports of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey

The Trevor Project Support Center

”The Truth about Transgender Suicide” article from the Huffington Post

National Center for Transgender Equality

Hello, My Pronouns Are…

Fiction titles with transgender characters

ELEMENTARY GRADES

    

Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl? by Sarah Savage (ill. by Fox Fisher). 9781785922671. 2017. Gr PK-2.
Jazz Jennings : Voice for LGBTQ Youth by Ellen Rodger. 9780778734192. 2017. Gr 2-5.
Who Are You? : The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee (ill. by Naomi Bardoff). 9781785927287. 2016. Gr K-2.

MIDDLE SCHOOL

           

Being Jazz : My Life As a Transgender Teen by Jazz Jennings. 9780399554643. 2016. Gr 7-10.
Gender Identity : The Search for Self (Hot Topics) by Kate Light. 9781534560239. 2017. Gr 7-10.
Identity & Gender (Our Values) by Charlie Ogden. 9780778732686. 2017. Gr 5-8.
Transphobia : Deal with It and Be a Gender Transcender by Wallace Skelton (ill. by Nick Johnson). 9781459407664. 2017. Gr 5-8.

SERIES: Transgender Life. 2017. Gr 7-12.
Includes Coming Out As Transgender by Corona Brezina (9781508171812), Identifying As Transgender by Sara Woods (9781508173496), and Transgender Rights and Protections by Rebecca T. Klein (9781499464603).

HIGH SCHOOL

          

Being Transgender (Living Proud! : Growing Up LGBTQ) by Robert Rodi & Laura Ross. 9781422235027. 2017. Gr 9-12.
Being Transgender : What You Should Know by Thomas E. Bevan. 9781440845246. 2017. Gr 10-12.
Beyond Magenta : Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin. 9780763656119. 2014. Gr 9-12.
Coping With Gender Dysphoria (Coping) by Ellen McGrody. 9781508173915. 2018. Gr 7-12.
LGBTQ+ Athletes Claim the Field : Striving for Equality by Kirstin Cronin-Mills & Alex Jackson Nelson. 9781467780124. 2016. Gr 7-12.
Rethinking Normal : A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill. 9781481418232. 2014. Gr 9-12.

      
Some Assembly Required : The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen by Arin Andrews. 9781481416757. 2014. Gr 9-12.
Teens and Gender Dysphoria (Teen Mental Health) by Don Nardo. 9781682821244. 2017. Gr 7-12.
Transgender Lives : Complex Stories, Complex Voices by Kristin Cronin-Mills. 9780761390220. 2015. Gr 9-12.
Transgender Rights and Issues (Special Reports) by Andrea Pelleschi. 9781624039034. 2016. Gr 10-12.

ADULT CROSSOVER

       

Becoming Nicole : The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt. 9780812995435. 2015. Gr 11-Adult.
First Year Out : A Transition Story by Sabrina Symington. 9781785922589. 2015. Adult.
Tomorrow Will Be Different : Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality by Sarah McBride. 9781524761479. 2018. Gr 10-Adult.
You’re in the Wrong Bathroom! : And 20 Other Myths and Misconceptions About Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming People by Laura Erickson-Schroth & Laura A. Jacobs. 9780807033890. Gr 10-Adult.

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