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Transgenderism and school
As noted in the article referenced here, collective understanding has it that people tend to play with gender roles, figure out who they really are and test the boundaries of societal norms when they hit high school, or college. In Colorado, however, a second grade boy is asking to return to school as a girl. He wishes to dress like a girl and be called a girl's name.
As most of us know by now, it takes more than a dress and a feminine name to be a woman, and more than a short haircut and some work boots to be a man. And, to be quite honest, being transgender, at least from the point of view of those I know who are, it's really difficult. Movies like Transamerica did what they could to attempt to enlighten the public about transgenderism, but there is much, much more to the story. It's a story that can end with happiness if there is support involved.
If it's true that high school, puberty, those times are the ones when we sexually figure out who we are, then why do most of the gay men I know (women too) say they knew they were gay--even if they didn't know the word for it, or that there was a word for it--even when they were very little? I realize being gay and being transgender are two very separate things, but still--why is it accepted that those sorts of questions aren't answered, or aren't to be answered, until a child is no longer really a child?
In this case, the school the transgendered child attends are granting his wishes and upholding his privacy and safety as priorities. The students may be confused, their parents moreso. On father was concerned how he would explain why the boy wanted to be a girl, how he wished to switch gender. Well, I'd like to see him also try to explain just what gender is in the first place!
I took a lot of classes like "Sexual Diversity in Society" as part of a sociology minor in college. We spent a lot of time discussing sex--whether you're born male or female--and gender--whether you're considered feminine or masculine. Back then I was pretty convinced that when it came down to it boys and girls were essentially the same. I didn't think I'd ever see a female linebacker but I was pretty sure there was little difference between a guy and a gal with the exception of one particular male appendage.
The classes I took reiterated this concept over and over and over, even though at the same time we read constantly about people born in the wrong bodies who underwent everything from misunderstanding to abuse to costly and painful surgeries trying to get where they knew they belonged. If we're all the same, then how come some of us want to essentially change our sex? And our gender?
As for the child at the center of all this, I am happy to see that the school has supported his decision. When he returns to what was his home school (he went to this school then transferred to another school for a while and is now returning to the former school) he will be referred to by name only, without any reference to he or she. The child will also have access to two unisex bathrooms instead of being required to use the little girl's or boy's room.
Parents with questions or concerned will be provided with literature on being transgender. According to Kim Pearson, the executive director of TransYouth Family Advocates, there is a growing number of elementary school children who are transgender. Her group is working with families of transgendered youth across America.
The school has been prepping for the return of the transgendered student for several months. Some parents still don't feel ready and are concerned with how the school is handling everything.
What do you think? Is second grade too young for a child to be able to make a decision like that? Or is gender identity something we're born with?
Glorious collage by johnwilson1969.