This article was co-authored by Deb Schneider, LCSW, PPSC and by wikiHow staff writer, Hannah Madden. Deb Schneider is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Oakland, CA, and a Program Manager for the Weiland Health Initiative at Stanford University. With over 15 years of experience, she specializes in creating safe spaces, respectful of marginalized identities, at the high school and college levels. Deb holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Women’s Studies from Clark University and a Master of Social Work (MSW) with Health Concentration from the University of California, Berkeley School of Social Welfare.
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If your parents are scared or uncomfortable with the fact that some people are transgender, it can be hard to be yourself around them. Whether you yourself are transgender or you just support transgender people, dealing with your parent’s transphobia can be difficult and frustrating. We’ve answered your questions about handling tough conversations and troublesome comments at home so you can help your parents understand you better and (hopefully) reach a compromise with them.
Deb Schneider, LCSW, PPSC
Licensed Clinical Social Worker Expert Interview. 2 April 2021.
- It helps to feel supported by people who care. Even if they don’t understand your gender identity, the fact that they care and are there for you can help.
Deb Schneider, LCSW, PPSC
Licensed Clinical Social Worker Expert Interview. 2 April 2021.
It’s really validating to surround yourself with a community of people who accept you and support you for who you are.  X Expert Source
Most Helpful Girls
Yeah, I think eventually I’ll move on and just never talk to him again. Eventually
I still struggle with never being accepted by my parents for being lgbt even all these years later.
At some point last year I finally just had enough. My dad hasn’t said a word to me since September because I just stopped making efforts to try.
I really need to do the same. I’m tired of being called an abomination.
Nobody should ever be calling you that. You are just someone who has been lost for way too long and now you are just starting to find yourself. That doesn’t make you an abomination, it makes you strong and courageous to actually admit it and do something about it.
I’ve known myself since I was 6, but I only started doing something about it last year.
This is why it bugs me when I see people saying stupid things about how somebody couldn’t know that young. You are living proof of it.
With supportive parents you could have been put on hormone blockers and did the puberty you wanted at 18. If either of my kids come to me and tell me they don’t feel right, you best believe I’m going to talk with them and a therapist and help them make the right decision for themselves.
I wish I had that kinda family. Every day I try so hard to keep my chin up and think positive but on days like this where I get talked to like that from my dad.. I think really dark things
If you ever need someone to talk to, I am a very safe space to do that with.
Retired transgender advocate
In my last post, I highlighted an amazing dad who supports his transgender teen daughter. Sadly, parental support is not common. Few parents have heard about transgender issues, and some react so strongly to their child’s gender nonconformity that they force their child to leave home.
I’ve wanted to know more about what life is like for these rejected children, and so I finally cracked open my copy of Cris Beam’s Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers. It’s an eye-opening peek at an experience quite different from my own.
Beam met over 50 transsexual kids during the five years she worked at a small high school for gay and transgender teenagers in Los Angeles. The kids “came from as far away as Alabama. and even Hawaii.” She says, “many had been kicked out when their parents caught them (their sons!) trying on a dress in the bathroom or stashing stilettos in a schoolbag.” Beam describes how one of the transsexual women she connected with, Christina, was treated by her mother:
Gloria was starting to notice her son’s femmy touches. and she wasn’t having it. She thought her son was probably gay, which, for her, was a black mark upon the family, an indictment of her already-questionable parenting. She told Christina she wished she (Christina) would just die of AIDS if she was going to act this way; she called her “whore,” “puta,” “slut,” and, in their nastier fights, would throw her out, once even changing the locks. Later I would learn that Christina attended five junior high schools in the span of two years as she shuttled between foster care and homelessness and her mother’s house.
Gender identity has nothing to do with sexual orientation, but parents often conflate the two. Beam tells another story — the one of Nina:
Nina’s mother cried and cried and said wasn’t there something they could work out? Maybe Nina could just dress up on weekends and leave late at night, when the neighbors wouldn’t see? Maybe they could work together to hide Nina’s girl things from the mother’s new live-in boyfriend, who wouldn’t tolerate girlie dress-up? This new boyfriend had a decent heart, her mother said, and he paid half the rent so, Dios mio, the boyfriend had to stay. The boyfriend helped Nina’s mother afford her youngest son’s good Catholic school. Everybody has to sacrifice something in this life, and wasn’t there a compromise, wasn’t there a way?
Nina told her mother no and gently hung up the phone. For Nina, then 16, prostitution was easier.
Of course, not everyone Beam met had been thrown out by parents. Dominque’s mom had been a crack addict since her birth, leaving Dominque to forage for her siblings with little support. Lenora was abandoned by her mother at birth and raised by her loving grandparents in Mexico, but when they felt she could have a better life in the United States, they let her go into the foster care system in the U.S.
But regardless of background, these students were all experiencing the same life. Beam says all knew where to:
. find girls trading secrets about how to shoot-up black-market hormones purchased from the swap meets in East L.A. find out about ‘pumping parties’ where a former veterinarian or a “surgeon’s wife” from Florida will shoot free-floating industrial grade silicone into hips, butts, breast, knees — even cheeks and foreheads . and learn which dance clubs let in underage kids and have go-go boxes for dancing.
Beam’s insight into these lives helps explain one of the key findings of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey Report on Health and Health Care:
Respondents reported over four times the national average of HIV infection, 2.64 percent in our sample compared to 0.6 percent in the general population, with rates for transgender women at 3.76 percent, and with those who are unemployed (4.67 percent) or who have engaged in sex work (15.32 percent) even higher.
Unfortunately, resources remain scarce for loving parents who have chosen to take a new course and support their transgender child. One of my favorites is The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals by Stephanie Brill and Rachel Pepper.
But at 200 pages, it can be a lot for a newly understanding parent to digest. Fortunately there is a new option — Helping Your Transgender Teen — A Guide for Parents by Irwin Krieger, a clinical social worker with years of experience. Krieger’s style is gentle and accessible, yet it covers all of the basics. The best part is that, at 86 pages, it’s the perfect intro for parents wanting to go where few parents have gone before — support their transgender child.
We know that conversion therapy is harmful and that there are few good options for children removed from their parents. We need better options
Hundreds gathered over the weekend at a candlelight vigil for 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn. Photograph: Peter Marshall/Demotix/Corbis
Hundreds gathered over the weekend at a candlelight vigil for 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn. Photograph: Peter Marshall/Demotix/Corbis
I f a young person is being abused at home – if they’re being berated, emotionally abused, or denied necessary mental and physical care by their parents – we want them to have access to every available option to get out and to safety. For a young LGBT person, living with a rampantly homophobic or transphobic guardian – with people who deny, hate or try to change a child’s gender identity through punishment or coercion – means enduring child abuse.
So in the wake of trans teenager Leelah Alcorn’s suicide – and knowing the appallingly high suicide and self-harm rates in the trans community – we need more tools for young LGBT people to survive and thrive, including increased options for legal emancipation from abusive parents.
Last week, after 17-year-old Leelah died by reported suicide in Ohio, a pre-scheduled note appeared on her blog in which she wrote that she “cried of happiness” when she found out what “transgender” meant, but that she was unable to obtain desperately-needed support from her parents. We don’t know much about Alcorn’s mental health state, though her parents reportedly had her in what Alcorn termed “Christian therapy” and she referred to having depression, but the note also contained references to her parents’ anti-trans beliefs, her therapists’ denials to accept or treat her gender identity, and her inability to begin transitioning until she turned 18.
Leelah’s mother, Carla Alcorn, told CNN that “we don’t support [transgender identity], religiously.” Misgendering Leelah, her mother continued: “we told him that we loved him unconditionally.”
The harm in denying someone’s gender identity or sexuality is already evident. For example, the use of so-called “conversion therapy” – the thoroughly debunked and generally religious counseling programs claiming that LGBT people can be talked into being either straight or cisgender – is illegal in California, New Jersey and Washington DC. States including Illinois, New York and Massachusetts are also considering measures that would ban the practice.
Laws and reputable groups appreciate that “conversion therapy”, even when led by so-called professionals, is harmful: the World Health Organization has called it “a serious threat to the health and well-being – even the lives – of affected people.” But being subjected to it by one’s own parents should be seen as equally if not more detrimental to children and teens’ wellbeing.
A 2014 report from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles law school, for example, showed that suicide attempts by trans people were highest among young people – 45% surveyed attempted to take their lives. Those who who experienced “rejection, disruption, or abuse” by family members were more likely to attempt suicide than those who had not. These are not just statistics – there are lives at risk, and we need to figure out how to help those who need it.
Unfortunately, the current options for abused children are generally so poor that LBGTQ minors often fall through the cracks. Many young people who leave abusive or neglectful households end up homeless, and a 2012 study estimates that 40% of the homeless youth population is LGBT – most of whom cite “family rejection” as the reason for their status. Children placed into foster care face difficulties as adults or age out of the system, and not all foster parents are accepting of LGBT people. And emancipation requires that minors prove they can care for themselves financially – and involves a legal process not easily navigated without a lawyer.
So what can we do?
Diego Sanchez, director of public policy at PFLAG – the largest organization for LGBT people and their families and allies in the US – says that, while legal emancipation can be available for minors on a case-by-case basis, we need to be “reinforcing the strength of what’s available already”.
“Any time a person is at risk, you want to remove that risk,” he said. “But you want to replace it with something that is supportive.” Sanchez talked to me about about finding “chosen families”, and expressed sadness that Leelah Alcorn lived in a state where PFLAG chapters were available to help.
“There are PFLAG parents who readily admit they came from a place of total disdain to finding a way to say, ‘If I want to have my child alive and in my life, I need to love all of who they are.’”
David Bond, vice president of programs at the Trevor Project – which offers a lifeline and crisis services for LGBT youth – said that the young people with whom the organization talks often have fantasies of leaving home, “but what’s more common are the fantasies that parents will be more understanding”.
However, Bond told me, even just one supportive adult in a LGBT teen’s life decreases suicidal ideation. “Be consistent in that person’s life and check in in a genuine way – and don’t be afraid to ask if they’re thinking of killing themselves,” Bond advised would-be allies.
“There’s a misconception that if you ask the question you’re going to put the idea in someone’s head. But it’s more often a helpful question than a harmful one.”
Whatever the answer – and I believe more states banning so-called conversion therapy and easier legal and financial avenues for emancipation, especially for older teens, should be a big part of that – we need more action now.
“A year feels like forever when you’re young,” PFLAG’s Sanchez told me. It’s no longer good enough to remind LGBT kids that “it gets better”. We need to figure out more legal, safe alternatives for those who can’t wait that long.
In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255 and the Trevor Project’s Lifeline is 1-866-488-7386. In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 08457 90 90 90. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here.
How Parents Can Support Their Transgender Teens
A new study shows that teens exploring their gender identity value simple acts of caring from their parents the most.
When teenagers confide that they are transgender or uncertain about their gender identity, their parents may be unsure how to offer support.
To understand what types of family support transgender adolescents consider helpful, a Stanford research team asked 25 of them for their thoughts. The team also interviewed the teens’ parents.
The actions teens said they valued most were among the simplest, the researchers discovered. Their findings were published in March in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Teens said they most appreciated having parents use their preferred name and pronoun, as well as knowing that their parents were emotionally available and listening to their concerns.
The teenagers usually rated their parents as more supportive than the parents rated themselves, said Tandy Aye, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford Medicine and a pediatric endocrinologist at the Stanford Children’s Health Pediatric and Adolescent Gender Clinic. Aye is the senior author of the study.
“Even when parents are thinking that there is tension over gender identity, that parent-child relationship is still super important,” said Aye. She spoke with Stanford Medicine News about her research.
Erin Digitale: Set the stage for this study. What was previously known about the value of family support for transgender children?
Tandy Aye: Kristina Olson, a researcher in Seattle, has studied how important family support is for young kids going through gender transition or who are gender-expansive, meaning their gender identity doesn’t fit neatly into traditional “boy” or “girl” categories. If they have a supportive family from the beginning, children who are transgender and gender-expansive don’t experience higher rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, or suicide compared with cisgender peers. Without family support, all those mental health risks increase substantially. And having family use a child’s preferred name and pronoun has been shown to be protective.
ED: What was new about your approach?
TA: In our study, we were trying to classify the commonalities in families that were supportive. No one had really looked at both perspectives—of transgender teens and of their parents—to see what support looks like.
We used a combination of closed-ended survey questions and open-ended interviews to get information about what parents and teens were thinking, saying, and doing at pivotal times during the teenager’s gender journey. We interviewed parents and adolescents separately; it was very important that we got their views independently.
Among those who seek care at our gender clinic, we meet all sorts of families, and as we were doing this study, we realized that there’s support and there’s acceptance, but they don’t always go hand in hand. Hopefully, support leads to acceptance. We hope we can use what we discovered to help families who are not initially supportive learn how to support their teens.
ED: What did teens tell you about the support they got from their families?
TA: The adolescents always rated their parents to be more supportive than the parents rated themselves. I think that’s surprising, since there can be times of tension between parents and children during adolescence; it is a hard time for anyone. Our finding just shows how much teens really value their parents.
When we asked each group what actions they saw as showing support, parents talked about taking their teen to the gender clinic, getting them connected to resources. But what the majority of adolescents wanted most was for parents just to use their preferred name and pronoun. That validated what another study had found.
Parents come to us worried about what a gender clinic would do, with lots of medical questions and concerns about taking those first steps toward the medical aspects of a gender transition. But we found that what adolescents want is just for their families to acknowledge that they’re exploring their gender. If you can use their preferred name and pronoun, it affirms that you support that exploration.
ED: You also talked with parents about their internal reactions. What did they say?
TA: We asked the parents: While you’re being supportive, what’s the struggle you’re having? I don’t think researchers have asked that of the families of transgender or gender-questioning adolescents before. We found that even parents who are being very supportive are still internally having an adjustment.
The things that were the hardest adjustments for them, interestingly, included using the child’s preferred name and pronoun. The child’s original name was the name that parents really thought about choosing before their child was born, and for the child to say that’s not their name anymore was often challenging for the parents. As to the pronoun, parents would say, “We’ve used it for so long.”
But most parents we spoke to were hiding their adjustment because they wanted to be perceived by their children as being as supportive as possible. I think this is a key takeaway from the study, especially for mental health providers. When the parents come in with their child and say, “Yes, we’re supportive,” it’s important to acknowledge what parents are experiencing and talk to parents about providing services for them, to help them process their own emotions.
ED: What takeaways from this study will be helpful for other families that you see in the Stanford Children’s gender clinic?
TA: When families come to us, they’re often thinking about hormones, surgery, and how difficult all those treatments at end of their child’s transition are going to be. Typically we bring parents back to the moment they’re in and ask, “Where is your child now? Where are you?”
Sometimes parents say, “We’re just having difficulty using the child’s preferred name and pronoun.” We talk about acceptance and ask them to just practice using the name and pronoun at home, and acknowledge to the family how important that support is to their teen. We also let them know that their teen may argue against them or shut down, but that the love they have for them is not forgotten, and it’s still very important to foster that relationship.
Our new research adds to the evidence that transgender adolescents’ perception of their parents’ support may be the key protective factor in the teens’ mental health. It’s that perception of support that parents want to nurture. What can you do? It’s things like offering a hug, being there to listen. These are things anyone can do. They are free and fully reversible, whatever path the teen takes in their gender journey. There are no medical side effects to listening and giving hugs, or trying your child’s preferred name and pronoun. It’s all about helping the teen fully explore who they are.
This article was originally published on the Stanford Medicine News Center. Read the original article.
By Amanda Jette Knox
Photo © Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Jun 9, 2020
This piece was updated on February 16, 2021
As a mother who is open about having a transgender teen, I’ve heard it all: everything from how “abusive it is to enable a confused child” to how I’m “condoning children as young as five getting genital surgery.”
These ideas are as absurd as they are inaccurate. Sadly, that doesn’t make them uncommon. Inside of a year, I’ll receive hundreds, if not thousands, of comments like these on social media and in email. People have plenty of opinions about what affirming a trans child means, but what they often lack are some realities. From parents and kids like us, who are living it.
This mother is honouring inclusion at home, in an effort to raise young advocates — read it here.
Trans people are regularly attacked, both verbally and physically, for simply existing in the world. They are, by far, one of the most misunderstood and mistreated demographics on the planet. Trans youth often face this hatred as well, along with having their maturity and sense of self questioned by everyone from family to physicians. Many think they’re too young to know who they are — or are not — and can’t possibly make decisions that could impact their future.
Their accepting parents, by default, become targets of these ideas, too. For example, how dare we feed into our children’s “fantasies”? What if little Timmy wanted to become a dog or a superhero? Would we allow that, too?
“Trans people are regularly attacked, both verbally and physically, for simply existing in the world.”
As someone who wouldn’t have to write for a living if she could pay the bills with misdirected hate from strangers, let’s look at some of what I see as the biggest misconceptions about transgender kids.
“Transgender kids are just confused.”
Trans and non-binary children are anything but confused. A recent study found that they’re just as sure of who they are as kids who are cisgender (those who identify with the gender assigned at birth).
Gender identity is something we all have — it’s just that most of us don’t have to think about it because the world has always seen us the way we see ourselves. Trans kids do have to think about — and often talk about — gender because who the world has perceived them as isn’t who they are.
If they’re lucky, they’ll find willing ears and open hearts to listen.
“Just let boys wear dresses and girls play with trucks and we won’t have trans kids. Problem solved.”
Not quite. People often conflate gender identity and gender expression. Gender identity is who we are, and gender expression is how we express that.
There are many boys who wear dresses and still identify as boys. This is known as “gender non-conforming,” which means they don’t conform to the societal norms expected of their gender.
“Trans kids do have to think about — and often talk about — gender because who the world has perceived them as isn’t who they are.”
Gender identity runs deeper than what we wear or what activities we participate in.
It should also be noted that gender identity is not the same as sexual orientation. There are many gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual and asexual trans people.
“Why don’t we just teach children to be comfortable as the gender they were assigned at birth?”
Horrifically, this was tried for years, and falls under the same category as trying to convince gay people they’re straight. “Conversion therapy” — also known as “reparative therapy” — has been banned in many places because of the damage it does to the individual.
A quick look at the statistics shows a high risk of trauma, mental health issues and self-destructive behaviours. Trying to force people to be who they’re not is extremely harmful.
Today, we know it’s better to help kids be who they are, not who we expect them to be. Outcomes for children who are affirmed in their gender identity are very positive.
A recent 2019 study from Transgend Health concluded that “support groups provide an important complement to specialized clinical care for families with trans/GNC children.”
Queer parents with young kids sometimes have to navigate learned heteronormative attitudes — read about that here.
“It’s too easy for kids to medically transition.”
If anything, I’d argued it’s not easy enough. When a young trans person wants access to transition-related medical care, the process is long and often daunting. Wait lists can span months or even years, followed by several appointments and assessments between each step. Historically, medical transition has been difficult to access and heavily gatekept, especially for minors. Things are slowly getting better as more professionals learn how to best support their trans patients, but I’d say it’s by no means an easy or fast process.
“Doctors are prescribing hormones and doing surgery on little kids!”
From everything I’ve read and everything I’ve experienced, this isn’t happening.
When younger children come out as trans, they will often socially transition, which means living as the gender they identify as, and sometimes using a new name and/or pronouns. They might be followed by a gender specialist or clinic, but there are no affirming medical supports for pre-pubescent trans youth.
Hormone blockers — a group of safe, reversible medications with a long history of pediatric use — block unwanted puberty from continuing, if that’s needed. Hormone treatment and some gender-affirming surgeries are reserved for teens and older, while other surgeries are only performed on adults. The ages vary depending on individual cases, medical standards and geographic location, but it is certainly not something young children have access to. It’s also important to note that not all trans or non-binary people medically transition, and that medical transition itself is very individual.
“Ask a parent of a trans kid what it feels like when they no longer hear their child crying in the shower . “
As always, when it comes to something we don’t have personal experience with, it’s best to get our information from the source. Rather than reading Uncle Jerry’s late-night Facebook post about the “dangers of puberty blockers,” go find a trans person’s book, blog or YouTube channel discussing how life-saving these medical supports can be. Ask a pediatric endocrinologist working in a gender clinic about how many trans kids change their minds about transition (spoiler: it’s low). Ask a parent of a trans kid what it feels like when they no longer hear their child crying in the shower, and instead see them living a full and happy life (I speak from experience on that one).
Research before you judge. Kids like mine will be all the better for it.
Transgender and gender nonconforming people may experience harassment or discrimination from people who are scared or uncomfortable with these identities.
Transphobia is the fear, hatred, disbelief, or mistrust of people who are transgender, thought to be transgender, or whose gender expression doesn’t conform to traditional gender roles. Transphobia can prevent transgender and gender nonconforming people from living full lives free from harm.
Transphobia can take many different forms, including
negative attitudes and beliefs
aversion to and prejudice against transgender people
irrational fear and misunderstanding
disbelief or discounting preferred pronouns or gender identity
derogatory language and name-calling
bullying, abuse, and even violence
Transphobia can create both subtle and overt forms of discrimination. For example, people who are transgender (or even just thought to be transgender) may be denied jobs, housing, or health care, just because they’re transgender.
People may hold transphobic beliefs if they were taught them by other people, including parents and families who encourage negative ideas about trans people and who hold strict beliefs about traditional gender roles.
Some people are transphobic because they have misinformation or have no information at all about trans identities. They may not be aware of transgender people or trans issues or personally know anyone who is trans.
The stress of transphobia on trans people can be very harmful and can cause:
feelings of hopelessness
Outing is the act of revealing someone else’s transgender identity or sexual orientation without their consent or permission. Sometimes outing is intentional and sometimes it’s accidental, but by sharing information about someone’s gender identity against their wishes, you risk making them feel embarrassed, upset, and vulnerable. You may also put them at risk for discrimination and violence.
If someone shares their trans identity with you, remember that this is very personal information and it’s an honor that they trusted you enough to tell you. Always ask them what you’re allowed to share with others, and respect their wishes.
Where can I get help if I’m dealing with transphobia?
People who experience transphobic harassment often feel alone and afraid to tell anyone what’s happening. You should never have to deal with transphobia, and you’re not alone.
You may find support from:
Other transgender people
Online communities for transgender people
Trans support groups at your local LGBTQ community center
Cisgender people who are allies to trans people
If you’re a student, try to find an adult you trust, like a teacher or a school administrator, who’s an ally.
Not everyone lives in a place that has a supportive school administration or an LGBTQ community center. In this situation, the Internet can help you find online communities and support with dealing with transphobia and discrimination.
If you’re a young person who’s experiencing transphobic harassment at school, it’s important to tell someone, even if that seems scary. Young people who experience transphobia at school sometimes stop going, which can affect your grades, friendships, and future plans. Some schools may have an anti-bullying and harassment policy, and some states have adopted a Safe Schools Law, which means that your school administrators are legally required to stop the harassment. If possible, find a teacher or adult who’s an ally to LGBTQ students and ask for their help.
If you’re experiencing transphobia and it’s causing you to feel depressed or suicidal, there’s help available:
Trans Lifeline is a crisis hotline staffed by trans people and for trans people
What can I do to help stop transphobia?
No one has the right to discriminate against another person, or to hurt them emotionally or physically. There are things you can do to help stop transphobia:
Don’t ever use slurs against transgender people.
Don’t ask personal questions about a transgender person’s genitals, surgery, or sex life.
Avoid giving trans people compliments that are actually insults. Some examples include: “You look just like a real girl!” or “I never would have guessed you were transgender!”
Don’t believe stereotypes about trans people or make assumptions about them.
Be a vocal supporter of the transgender community, regardless of your own gender identity.
Let the transgender people in your life know that you’re a friend and ally.
Educate yourself on transgender issues.
Respect someone’s decisions about when and where to come out .
If you don’t know a person’s preferred pronouns or name, ask them.
Use gender neutral language, such as “they” and “them” or “folks” and “people” instead of “he/she” or “girls and boys.”
Respect trans people’s chosen pronouns and names and use them.
Remember that being transgender is just one part of a person’s life.
If you feel safe doing so, speak up when other people are being transphobic, like making transphobic jokes, using slurs, or bullying or harassing someone because of their gender identity.
When addressing transphobia in others:
Ask questions and stay calm. Often, people don’t know what language is insensitive. Avoid insulting them and instead tell them why you find their words offensive.
Decide if it’s safe to address the issue. Some things to consider: Will you be confronting a stranger in public? Or a friend or family member in private? Do you want to speak up now or wait until you’re alone with the person? Would it be safest for you stay quiet and walk away?
It’s okay if you mess up a person’s pronouns or name by accident sometimes, especially if their transition is new to you. If this happens, apologize and make an effort to use the correct pronoun in the future.
When it comes to language, the following things are bullying:
Intentionally calling them the name they no longer use
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As a former child transgender, my heart goes out to parents whose boy says, “I’m a girl” or whose girl who says, “I’m a boy.” The medical diagnosis is gender dysphoria—distress that comes from feeling one’s physical gender doesn’t match one’s internal perception. A flood of questions come with the revelation: What causes it? What treatment will help? What should parents do or not do?
First, do not panic. Studies are showing that kids are not born with this disorder. A 2014 study shows no specific chromosome aberration associated with MtF (male to female) transsexualism. A 2013 study looking for molecular mutations in the genes involved in sexual differentiation found none. Your child was not born in the wrong body.
Transgender Children Typically Need Treatment for Other Disorders
Studies indicate that two-thirds of transgenders suffer from multiple disorders at the same time, or comorbidity. The top three disorders evidenced in transgenders are depression (33 percent), specific phobia (20 percent) and adjustment disorder (15 percent). A child who states a desire to identify as the opposite sex has a two-thirds chance of having a co-existing disorder.
Let’s look at the one at the top of the list: depression. Depression is a leading cause of suicide. A survey of over 6,000 transgenders revealed that 41 percent reported having attempted suicide at some time in their lives. Without effective psychiatric intervention or sound psychotherapy for the underlying depression, the risk of suicide will remain high. As a parent, it is important to look for depression and treat it if it is present.
Your child needs psychiatric or psychological help, not a change of wardrobe or hairstyle. Anyone working with a transgender needs to look for, and treat, comorbid disorders. Biologically, it is impossible for a doctor to change a boy into a girl, no matter how much surgery is performed or how many hormones are administered. I know; they tried it on me.
I came into this world a boy. Starting in early childhood, I frequently cross-dressed as a girl. I thought I was born in the wrong body. A nationally-prominent PhD diagnosed me as a transgender with gender dysphoria. Eventually, I underwent the full recommended hormone therapy and the gender reassignment surgery and became the female Laura Jensen. I lived and worked successfully as a female transgender in San Francisco for several years until I was diagnosed with my own comorbid disorder.
With proper diagnosis and treatment with psychotherapy, I found the sanity and healing gender change could not provide. Trangenderism was my outward expression of an undiagnosed comorbid disorder, and gender-change surgery was never necessary. I detransitioned and returned to my male gender, like so many others do who regret changing genders.
What Causes the Comorbid Disorders that Exist in So Many Transgenders?
After receiving hundreds of emails over the last several years, it became evident to me that comorbid disorders develop in childhood. Some of the stresses people with gender dysphoria have reported are:
- An unstable unsafe home environment, real or perceived
- Separation from a parent by death or other events
- Serious illness among the family or child
- Domestic violence in the home
- Neglect, perceived or real
- Sexual, physical, or verbal abuse
- A strong opposition disorder from social norms
The key for parents to helping young transgenders is to work with a professional to identify the cause of the stress the child faces and correctly diagnose any comorbid disorder that exists concurrently with the gender dysphoria. Parents are in the best position to identify the cause of the stress the child faces.
A caution about the choice of medical professional: parents need to find medical professionals who are not advocates for gender change, and who will look beyond the surface of gender dysphoria symptoms for the comorbid disorders, fetishes, phobias, and adjustment disorders common among the transgender population. Only then can an effective treatment plan be devised that truly targets the child’s needs.
As a child transgender myself, I can tell you I needed help. I did not need to dress as a girl at home and at school, with all the stress that would have brought. There is no doubt in my mind that if I would have been encouraged to go off to school dressed up as a female it would have escalated my anxiety and deepened my depression and my desire to commit suicide.
I understand some parents might dismiss the idea of comorbid disorders. They might feel strongly that they need to allow their child the freedom to change genders or experiment with gender. They may think that will help reduce the child’s depression because the child seems happier under these conditions. I know—I seemed happier, too, after my gender change, until the novelty wore off and it no longer provided a distraction from my troubles. Happiness turned to despair when the surgery didn’t work as treatment and my despair led to attempted suicide. Ignoring the possibility of comorbidity and giving kids the freedom to change gender is, I suggest, killing too many of them.
Two parents who are suing the UK government over guidelines on transgender issues at their sons’ school have told RT that their children are trapped in a “culture war.”
British Christians Nigel and Sally Row previously told The Times that their two sons were left confused over ‘gender-fluid’ classmates.
After raising the issue with the Isle of Wight school, the Rows received a response saying a child would be dubbed ‘transphobic’ if he showed surprise or frustration over a friend’s unusual appearance. As a result, the couple chose to transfer both their sons to homeschooling and to launch legal action against the government.
In an interview with RT, the Rows said that a 500-page report, submitted by them to the court, contains “great warnings” from various specialists, including endocrinologists and psychologists. These explain in detail “what would happen if we continue to do this sort of thing in schools.”
The scandal, which has made headlines in the UK, shocked the tight-knitted school community. Speaking to The Times, Nigel described the “hostile” atmosphere his family has had to deal with.
However, in his conversation with RT, he mentioned that publicity has brought them unexpected allies from within the LGBTQ community. He referred to an email he was “really touched” with, from a lady who told him that she was a lesbian but supported their stance.
“I don’t want to see this kind of [trans] ideology being pushed on children,” her message said, as quoted by Row.
He said such messages prove that “people are beginning to understand what this really is all about – it’s basically a culture war.”
The parents expressed hope that the legal action would be a success and would contribute to the development of clear guidelines for schools on how to support all pupils, without enforcing any ideology.
The interview with the Rows came as the UK government categorically declined the idea of replacing ‘Sir’ and ‘Miss’ in the country’s schools with the gender-neutral term ‘Teacher’. Calling the measure – which was proposed by the Educate and Celebrate charity – “inappropriate and completely unnecessary,” a Department of Education spokesperson, quoted by the media, said that “it should not be happening in our classrooms.”
A recent refusal by more than two dozen private girls’ schools in England to admit transgender students dealt another blow to trans activists – but the problem of how to handle trans issues in schools remains unresolved.
The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), which represents headteachers, has issued a call to the government to urgently clarify the measures the schools should take amid a growing number of transgender ‘coming-outs’.
I am an omnisexual nonbinary and I deal with people telling me that my gender isn’t real because of biology. Which I respond with the difference between genders and someone’s sex. What do yall say when someone does things like this?
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People misgendered me my entire youth for being a woman who dresses in a way that society deemes masculine. It just made me realise how obsessed people is with sex and gender, they must know yours so they know how to treat you. We would all be happier in a society were gender did not exist and sex would only be relevant for health and reproduction. Where everybody is treated the same no matter their genitals.
the face. the awkward smile that says ‘thats nice but also I hate you please leave and never come back thanks have a nice day.’ every trans person knows that face
I usually cry about it
I’m not sure why you got downvoted. It’s perfectly fine and rational to cry about it. It’s better to let your feelings out than to keep them bottled up.
I try to ignore nasty comments people make, only i know what being me feels like and no one else can change how being me feels. Im not embarrassed about being me anymore and wear whatever I like, other people dont get to choose how i dress
I sometimes get misgendered in winter, when wearing bulky dawn jacket and a beanie without a well known secondary sexual characteristic of a pompon. I honestly don’t care, and never correct anybody because my gender is none of a passing stranger’s business.
being mistaken for a man is always of advantage.
I haven’t had any in-person misgendering because I’m not out in real life but online where I have a kind of big platform on TikTok I simply block them if they’re directing their words to me and defend others when they’re directing their words to other transgender or nonbinary people. (Also I’m nonbinary and use they/xe/it pronouns)
I say something along the lines of this: “Excuse me, my name is Juniper, not (dead name), and I am not (the gender they called me). My pronouns are they/them.”
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I am a Omnisexual Nonbinary and i love reading and animals. I also love writing and Minecraft. My chosen name is Bee 😀 And my pronouns are He\They. Also i feel like its important to say that im a Gen Z not a millenial. I am not in my mid 30s.You can talk to me about stuff you’re dealing with if you want :)Also please dont bomb me with transphobic comments.
Diana works as a Community Manager for Bored Panda. After acquiring a BA in Business with Marketing Management, she decided that she wanted to do something far more creative than her usual marketing business that mostly included researching companies’ competitors or working on swot/pestle analysis every single day. Excel spreadsheets weren’t her thing either, so she decided creative storytelling was the way to go. Other than that, outside of work, you can find her making barista-style coffee or hand-stretched pizzas, sometimes even drawing and playing video games with friends.
7 steps to making your school more LGBTQ+ inclusive
Figures from the charity Stonewall show that nearly half of LGBTQ+ pupils are bullied in our schools. While some schools are leading the way to actively support their LGBT staff and pupils, as minister for school standards Nick Gibb has said, “there’s still a long way to go”.
So, here are seven ways to make your school more LGBTQ+ inclusive.
1. Celebrate LGBT History Month
LGBT History Month is celebrated every February with more than 1,000 events organised up and down the country. Many schools hold assemblies, have discussions in tutor time or run events that students can get involved with. LGBT History Month is a step in the right direction towards creating a more inclusive environment, but February only comes once a year…
2. ‘Usualise’ LGBTQ+ people
As practitioners, there is a simple step we can take to make out lessons more inclusive – what the organisation School’s Out calls ”usualising”. While “usualising” won’t be found in a dictionary, it is much less problematic than the word “normalising”. Let’s face it: what is normal, anyway?
Usualising is about integrating LGBTQ+ representation into the curriculum – whether in the images we use, the questions we write or simply using the words “lesbian”, “gay”, “bisexual” and “trans” to describe people. Usualising is not about tokenism, but about students feeling represented in the curriculum and seeing positive modelling of inclusivity from all teachers. For more ideas about how to make what you are already teaching more inclusive look at The Classroom, Educate and Celebrate and The Proud Trust.
3. Change your school environment
Creating an inclusive environment not only supports LGBTQ+ staff and pupils, but opens up space for healthy conversations about gender and sexuality in school. Stonewall’s free posters are a great way to make your classroom and hallways more inclusive. Displays in corridors could feature inspirational LGBTQ+ people. You could also stock up your library with collections of LGBTQ+ inclusive texts.
4. Offer staff CPD
Staff CPD is vital if we are going to create truly inclusive schools. Inclusivity training gives teachers the tools we need to make all of our students feel safe and supported in school. Educate and Celebrate provide excellent training aimed at both primary and secondary schools.
5. Challenge homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language
All teachers, without fail, need to challenge homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language and bullying. Consider if your school has policies in place which explicitly support LGBTQ+ staff and pupils. Guidance on challenging homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language can be found in Stonewall’s guide, here.
6. Forget gender stereotypes
Research suggests that gender stereotypes not only harm those who do not conform to them, but also harm those who do. Gender stereotyping by teachers, whether intentional or not, can have negative impacts on aspirations, behaviour and attainment, especially among boys. Research by the director of the IOE, Becky Francis, suggests that challenging gender stereotypes can have a positive impact on all students and create a more inclusive learning environment.
7. Get your students involved
Our students are the future, so let’s hand the baton over to them. Forming LGBTQ+ groups can be a great way for students and allies to promote and celebrate diversity in schools and build confidence and leadership skills. Last year, for example, students from the Pride Youth Network proudly marched alongside Teach First and the NUT teaching union at London pride.
James Bennett is a teacher of English at Holloway School in North London and a volunteer with the organisation Schools Out
Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes on Twitter and Instagram, and like Tes on Facebook
Independent MP Zali Steggall has said parents concerned with transgender athletes in women’s sport were transphobic.
Independent Warringah MP Zali Steggall says that parents concerned about transgender athletes in youth sport are being transphobic.
In an exclusive interview with Sky News host Laura Jayes, Ms Steggall hit out at Liberal candidate for Warringah Katherine Deves who has previously argued in favour of restricting trans-women from female sports.
Ms Steggall said there was “not an issue” around protecting women’s sports given existing parameters in the Sex Discrimination Act.
“This is about creating division, I think this is a bit of a dead cat strategy you put something very controversial on the table and that distracts away from other issues,” Ms Steggall told Sky News Australia’s Laura Jayes.
“I feel there’s a lot of lying going on about the actual status quo, we already have a law.
“The sex discrimination act already deals with the situation, this is just not an issue.
“And saying that parents will be concerned is just repeating a transphobia line.”
Ms Jayes asked Ms Steggall whether it was fair to dismiss concerns as being “transphobic”.
“It is because we are talking about a minority of the population that is already incredibly vulnerable,” Ms Steggall responded.
“All this policy approach opts to do is seek division.”
Ms Steggall also refused to commit to providing either major party with confidence and supply in the event of a hung parliament, as both the Coalition and Labor are expected to consider coal projects in the Galilee Basin in the next term of government.
She said she would take each piece of legislation on its merit and would keep the major concerns of her community front of mind.
“I simply will not vote on the floor to support that kind of legislation,” she said.
“I won’t be doing any blanket deal for supply for either side, whether it’s the coalition or Labor.
“I will consider things on their merit because that’s what my community wants us to do.”
Three mining projects in the mineral-rich Galilee Basin are set to come up for approval in the next term of government, with pressure mounting on Anthony Albanese to negotiate between Labor’s Queensland base and its inner-city voters.
Ms Steggall said definitively she would not support any expansion of coal, gas or oil and argued the Australia’s reliance on fossil fuel revenue would quickly diminish.
“That revenue is going to phase out because 70 per cent of our trading partners are committed to net zero and are aggressively moving towards renewable energies,” she continued.
“This is frustrating part, Australia has huge opportunities to be a renewable energy superpower.”
news & solutions school leaders can actually use
Posted By: Dr. Christine Wells November 18, 2019
This Transgender Awareness Week marks an important time to reflect on the support our K-12 schools provide for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students.
My education research—and dissertation—have focused largely on how districts can improve LGBTQ student inclusion, curricula and teaching practices, and safety.
This year, as I reflect on the state of LGBTQ students in schools, I am admittedly conflicted.
It’s true that we’ve come a long way in the last 20, 10, even 5 years. Conversations around sexuality and gender identity are more open than they have been in the past—and many school district leaders understand that they have to do more to support LGBTQ students. According to the 2017 GLSEN National School Climate Survey , almost all LGBTQ students (96.7 percent) could identify at least one staff member supportive of LGBTQ students at their school.
Begun in 1999, the GLSEN National School Climate Survey is the only one of its kind. It documents the experiences of LGBTQ youth in schools, including the extent of the challenges that they face and their access to school-based resources that support their educational success and well-being.
The latest GLSEN survey illustrates the fact that too many LGBTQ students are still dealing with the tragic effects of bullying and violence in schools, which is compounded by a failure of school staff and leaders to effectively address these problems. More than 60 percent of participating students who reported an incident of bullying or abuse based on their sexuality or gender expression said that school staff did nothing in response or told the student to ignore it. And, although a majority (79.3 percent) of participating students had an anti-bullying policy at their school, less than 15 percent of them reported that their school had a comprehensive policy (i.e., one that specifically enumerates both sexual orientation and gender identity/expression).
It’s obvious that K-12 school leaders and educators need to do more to ensure some of our most vulnerable students feel safe and supported at school and are able to thrive no matter their identity or sexual preference—but many school leaders feel ill-equipped to do so.
My own research finds that some teachers still feel uncomfortable talking to their students about sexuality due to their beliefs or perceptions about what’s appropriate—often conflating sexual orientation with sex. Others feel pressure from administrators or parents to keep tight-lipped. And many point to a lack of professional development on how to establish LGBTQ-inclusive cultures or to identify anti-LGBTQ behaviors and harassment.
So, my reflection this Trans Week leads to more questions. Questions I know school leaders and educators across the country are asking themselves. It is clear that there is an urgent need for action to create safe and affirming learning environments for LGBTQ students. Yet findings on school climate suggest that more efforts are needed to reduce harassment and discrimination and increase affirmative supports.
While I may not have all the answers, I have gained some valuable insights during my time researching the progress of LGBTQ students in schools. As you work to improve inclusivity and acceptance in your district, I hope these answers help shed some light on the path forward.
Q : How can teachers help LGBTQ students feel accepted, empowered, and engaged?
A: Teachers can be tremendous allies both in their role as educators and also as affirming adults in the lives of children. Creating a classroom environment where everyone feels safe and valued is an important first step to helping every student feel their presence is important and needed—regardless of their gender identity and sexual orientation.
Administrators should help by providing professional development for school staff to improve intervention rates and increase the number of supportive teachers and other staff members available to students. Teachers have a wonderful opportunity to not only support students, but also to work with their school administrators to ensure that all families receive education and support related to these issues.
Q: What is a teacher’s role in preventing bullying?
A: Bullying of any kind is not to be tolerated. Teachers can act swiftly when bullying is apparent by immediately addressing the aggressive student and working with school administrators to provide appropriate intervention for that student. Often the student that is bullying needs support as well. Many times, the best way to deal with bullying is to make sure the entire school receives messages of inclusion and acceptance. Further, when students or other teachers lash out at LGBTQ individuals, it is often due to a lack of knowledge or understanding in general.
Q : What is the best way for schools to help LGBTQ students feel safe?
A: School leaders and teachers should set clear expectations of classroom behavior and make it abundantly clear that bullying or harassment of any kind will not be tolerated. Encourage thoughtful, respectful discourse.
If homophobic or transphobic language is used by a student, don’t ignore it. Turn it into a teaching moment and deconstruct the ideas the student may have about a particular phrase or word. Often kids don’t understand the reasons why a word or phrase is hurtful. Once a teacher opens the dialogue, comments such as these are likely to decrease.
The best LGBTQ-allied teachers and leaders monitor behavior to ensure LGBTQ students feel safe at school, and that potential aggressors understand discrimination of any sort will not be tolerated.
- Trust . If a student says they are being bullied, take them at their word and don’t dismiss the actions as teasing. Allegations about bullying must always be taken seriously.
- Tell. Inform school leaders of all reports of harassment so they can monitor the situation and respond appropriately.
- Listen. If a student tells you they have been harassed for their sexual orientation or gender identity, listen without judgment or assumption.
- Know. LGBTQ students are disproportionately the target of bullying, whether in school or online. Teachers should learn how to recognize and respond to warning signs of bullying in all forms.
- Connect. Students who have been bullied may not be aware of school services that can help, like counseling or Gay Straight Alliance. Make sure students have all the information they need to access support.
- Intervene. If you see a student being bullied or harassed, take action immediately. Targeted students need to know those around them will intervene-and bullies must know their actions won’t be tolerated.
- Teach. Increase student access to appropriate and accurate information regarding LGBTQ people, history, and events through inclusive curricula, and library and internet resources.
- Act. Adopt and implement comprehensive bullying/harassment policies that specifically enumerate sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in individual schools and districts, with clear and effective systems for reporting and addressing incidents that students experience.
Taken together, such measures can move us toward a future in which all students have the opportunity to learn and succeed in school—regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
Transgender people oftentimes experience dysphoria, a sensation in which your body and gender identity do not along. This can cause trans and non-binary people distress, depression, and other mental health problems.
As transgender people are already more vulnerable to harassment and discrimination, these factors also can worsen existing feelings of dysphoria and depression .
Here are five simple things you can do to alleviate gender dysphoria .
Get gender-affirming clothes, make-up, and a haircut or wigs
Appearance can have a lot to do with how intense someone’s dysphoria is on a daily basis, so using gender presentation is a useful tool to alleviate some dysphoria-related anxiety.
Getting clothes that make you feel at home in your body, getting a haircut or wigs, or learning how to apply makeup can help lessen some of the anxiety you feel with your gender presentation.
Specific gear that can help you change your body’s outward appearance like a binder, vinyl panties, or a packer can also help you feel more comfortable in public.
If you don’t feel safe wearing them in public, wearing an article of gender-affirming clothing under your everyday attire or dressing up at home can also be a meditative part of your everyday routine.
Use everyday items to conceal parts of your body that make you feel dysphoria
Sometimes, it’s private moments that can make trans people feel dysphoric, like in the shower or in bed at night.
According to The Telethon Kids Institute, using common items like a large sponge in the shower or holding a pillow to your chest at night can help you think less about certain parts of your body that make you feel more dysphoric.
Come up with affirmations for yourself and your gender
Starting your day with positive phrases that affirm your gender can be a great way to center yourself before going out into the world.
Use phrases like:
- My gender is valid regardless of what my body looks like.
- My body does not dictate my gender.
- I am valid and here.
Surround yourself with people who will support you and your gender identity
Oftentimes, telling someone your gender identity can be difficult and may elicit negative responses from friends or family.
It’s important to limit your time around negative people who do not validate your gender and instead invest in relationships with people who recognize your gender and actively affirm it.
Trans youth are less likely to have suicidal ideations when they are surrounded by family and loved ones who support them, so this step is crucial.
Talk to a therapist or a support group
Finally, finding a trans support group online can be a way to find like-minded trans people going through similar dysphoria.
Typically, local LGBTQ centers have listings of these groups and when they meet on their websites. Therapists can also act as sounding boards to work through gender dysphoria and develop tools to manage it daily.
Bullying is one of the most difficult experiences a parent or carer can experience. How effective responses to bullying are can have significant impacts on a family life. Testimonies of parents and carers have revealed that, while bullying of their child is always distressing, the response of schools can influence the extent of the damage significantly.
Parents and carers have a vital role to play in supporting their child who may be at risk of being bullied, or is being bullied. Like siblings, they can help identify and monitor incidents of bullying behaviour, but can also be called upon to reinforce or reassert anti-bullying strategies with their child at home.
Parents and carers of disabled children advise teachers in dealing with this issue to take the following steps
1. Listen to the person reporting the bullying
Parents stress that it is essential that if their child reports bullying to another adult in school, the appropriate response of the teacher is to believe that they are telling the truth. The consequences of a child reporting bullying to an adult at home or at school and feeling that they are not listened to or believed are damaging and far reaching.
2. Listen to the parents
Parents are the experts in their child’s behaviour and disability and know when something is wrong. Parents are usually the first people to be either told about the bullying or spot the signs of it through changes in their child’s behaviour. When they report bullying to the school, they want to be believed and listened to, not labelled as ‘causing trouble’ or being ‘overly sensitive’.
3. Listen to both sides
Recognise that bullies often have their own problems. Parents know that many children deal with difficult situations and that their bullying may be a consequence of feelings provoked by other wider events. They want all children to be listened to and supported.
4. Develop good communication
Parents believe this would help to solve the distrust between parties involved in these situations. It helps all those involved to feel that they are working towards a solution, even when this takes time. Developing good communication applies to all the people involved, that is, between parents and school staff, between pupils, and between the parents of the child suffering the bullying and those carrying out the bullying acts.
5. Respond quickly, once a concern has been raised
Many parents reported investigations that took many weeks or months, during which time the child may continue to be bullied or be excluded from activities. This often left parents feeling ‘in limbo’ and as though nothing was being done. It is important that some tangible action or investigation is seen to happen.
6. Take action against the bullies
Many parents reported that nothing had happened once they had raised a concern and that no actions were taken against those who had been bullying. Parents suggested appropriate actions could include speaking to the individuals, getting them to acknowledge their actions and apologise; or for the bully to be moved into another class. Other possible actions could be for teachers to use warnings and exclusions (selectively), so that the bully knows they cannot continue with this type of behaviour. Some actions may only need to occur once, and others may require longer term support.
7. Use active support techniques
Support the child by, for example, using the circle of friends; a buddy scheme; and safe zones, for when the child is distressed or needs some time alone. Other suggestions include the use of communication cards, which a child in class can use to let the teacher know if they are upset, feeling stressed or in need of support or time out; and offering support to the child in corridors, which would ensure that bad behaviour does not occur between classes.
8. Have a positive school-wide ethos towards all forms of disability
Actions could include running awareness sessions on different types of disabilities and the behaviours associated with them, and encouraging better understanding of how and why different people behave in different ways. This could be facilitated by bringing experts in to talk to the school; or getting students to study famous people who have had a disability.
9. Be seen to actively discourage bullying
Run a range of school-wide activities: discussions in class; question-and-answer sessions; projects on bullying and its effects; and anti-bullying assemblies.
10. Ensure that all teachers and staff have training in disability awareness
Include guidance on spotting the signs of bullying, as well as techniques for managing the situation when it occurs. Guidance on how to effectively offer support to those involved would also be helpful.
11. Develop effective and well-publicised policies on dealing with bullying
Get all children, staff and parents to sign up to them. Make them an essential part of the school’s Code of Conduct, as well as the discipline and behaviour guidelines. All parents should be made aware of these in order to know what their opportunities for recourse are if they are not happy with the ways that the policies are being implemented. There should be opportunities for regular monitoring and reviewing of these policies, involving parents and children, including disabled children / those with SEN.
12. Offer help for the parents and siblings to cope with effects of the bullying
This could include better signposting to local and condition-specific support groups and links to parent/carer forums.
13. Educate the wider community
Include other parents, so that they better understand disability and difference.
Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying are the official terms that describe bullying motivated by prejudice against LGBT+ people.
Whatever form it takes, bullying is always wrong and is never your fault.
What counts as bullying?
Bullying of any kind can include anything from name-calling and spreading rumours to physical, sexual or emotional abuse.
The simple rule is, that if it’s making you feel upset or threatened, it’s probably bullying. The ways someone can bully another person are many and varied but here are some common signs that you’re being bullied:
- Teasing and name-calling
- Making threats
- Being put down or humiliated
- Inappropriate hand gestures or groping
- Being ignored or made to feel left out or excluded
- Hitting, pinching, biting, pushing and shoving
- Kicking, punching or being physically hurt
- Stealing your belongings or money
- Making things up to get you into trouble
- Threats and intimidation
- Making silent or offensive phone calls
- Posting or sharing insulting messages, rumours or photos online
- Sending offensive text messages
- You are receiving threats to ‘out’ you and tell your friends and family about your sexuality or gender
- Being compared to LGBT+ celebrities or characters that portray particular stereotypes of LGBT+ people
Behaving in an insulting or intimidating way towards someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is unacceptable and you have the right to report it to the police.
Why people bully
As hard as it might sound, you need to work hard to tell yourself this is not your fault. Bullies often look for a target and don’t care who they are attacking. And they often use a ‘difference’ in you to make you believe the bullying is your fault.
Bullies are often people who feel bad about themselves and they attack others as a way of hiding or distracting themselves from their own problems. Chances are they themselves have been made to feel rejected, different or inadequate and may be under stress or pressure.
These are never excuses for bullying another person but if you are the victim of bullying and you are taking what the bullies say to heart, it can be a useful reminder that it probably doesn’t really have anything to do with you or your gender or sexuality.
How bullying can make you feel
Bullying is very upsetting and can really affect your mental and physical health. Bullying can leave you feeling worried or anxious, depressed, lonely, low in self-esteem and even scared. This can result in missing school or college or avoiding the place or places where the bully exists.
Bullying can also often result in LGBT+ people hiding or denying their sexuality, ridiculing themselves to gain acceptance amongst peers, feelings of dislike of other LGBT+ people or feelings of shame, anger or bitterness. This is referred to as internalised homophobia – in other words, you can end up attacking yourself.
If you’re having any of the feelings described above, you know it’s time to take action to beat the bullies.
How to deal with bullying
You have a right to express your sexuality and your gender and you should not be bullied or discriminated against simply because you are lesbian, gay, bi, trans or non-binary.
Some simple ways you can stop bullying before it gets out of hand include dismissing them, being assertive or challenging them on their remarks. If they see you are not an easy target or if you cause them to reconsider their views, they may back away. Kidscape has some brilliant simple tips on ways you can practice assertiveness through what you say and your body language. ChildLine also have some great videos which give advice on being assertive and how to build your confidence after online bullying.
However, if you don’t feel able to do this, don’t worry, that is perfectly normal and there is no shame in not fighting back. It may be that it isn’t possible or safe for you tackle the problem on your own.
If you feel like bullying is getting out of control, here are some simple steps you can take:
- Tell a friend. Friends are key, both to support and distract you from what’s happening
- Tell a parent or guardian. Even if you’re not ready to tell anyone else, their support could make all the difference
- Tell a teacher: if you’re at school, your teachers have a duty to help you. By law schools must have bullying and equal opportunities policies for staff and pupils so ask to see their anti-bullying policy which should outline what steps they take to tackle bullying
- Keep yourself safe: whether it’s staying in a group or walking or traveling a different way home, find ways to avoid the bullies
- Keep a diary or a record of the remarks or behaviour
- If the bullying is happening online, visit our page on cyber bullying which includes advice on taking screenshots, keeping a digital record and blocking bullies from contacting you
- If you are being bullied by phone or text, block the bully’s number
- Don’t reply to abusive messages as this could make things worse and more upsetting. But keep the messages so you can show them to an adult
If you are being bullied and don’t know what to do about it, you can contact ChildLine who are there to help you and provide advice. Call to speak to one of ChildLine’s counsellors for free on 0800 1111 or use their online chat.
Most people – including most transgender people – are either male or female. But some people don’t neatly fit into the categories of “man” or “woman,” or “male” or “female.” For example, some people have a gender that blends elements of being a man or a woman, or a gender that is different than either male or female. Some people don’t identify with any gender. Some people’s gender changes over time.
People whose gender is not male or female use many different terms to describe themselves, with non-binary being one of the most common. Other terms include genderqueer, agender, bigender, and more. None of these terms mean exactly the same thing – but all speak to an experience of gender that is not simply male or female.
(Note: NCTE uses both the adjectives “male” and “female” and the nouns “man” and “woman” to refer to a person’s gender identity.)
Some societies – like ours – tend to recognize just two genders, male and female. The idea that there are only two genders is sometimes called a “gender binary,” because binary means “having two parts” (male and female). Therefore, “non-binary” is one term people use to describe genders that don’t fall into one of these two categories, male or female.
Basic Facts about Non-Binary People
Non-binary people are nothing new. Non-binary people aren’t confused about their gender identity or following a new fad – non-binary identities have been recognized for millennia by cultures and societies around the world.
Some, but not all, non-binary people undergo medical procedures to make their bodies more congruent with their gender identity. While not all non-binary people need medical care to live a fulfilling life, it’s critical and even life-saving for many.
Most transgender people are not non-binary. While some transgender people are non-binary, most transgender people have a gender identity that is either male or female, and should be treated like any other man or woman.
Being non-binary is not the same thing as being intersex. Intersex people have anatomy or genes that don’t fit typical definitions of male and female. Most intersex people identify as either men or women. Non-binary people are usually not intersex: they’re usually born with bodies that may fit typical definitions of male and female, but their innate gender identity is something other than male or female.
How to Be Respectful and Supportive of Non-Binary People
It isn’t as hard as you might think to be supportive and respectful of non-binary people, even if you have just started to learn about them.
You don’t have to understand what it means for someone to be non-binary to respect them. Some people haven’t heard a lot about non-binary genders or have trouble understanding them, and that’s okay. But identities that some people don’t understand still deserve respect.
Use the name a person asks you to use. This is one of the most critical aspects of being respectful of a non-binary person, as the name you may have been using may not reflect their gender identity. Don’t ask someone what their old name was.
Try not to make any assumptions about people’s gender. You can’t tell if someone is non-binary simply by looking at them, just like how you can’t tell if someone is transgender just by how they look.
If you’re not sure what pronouns someone uses, ask. Different non-binary people may use different pronouns. Many non-binary people use “they” while others use “he” or “she,” and still others use other pronouns. Asking whether someone should be referred to as “he,” “she,” “they,” or another pronoun may feel awkward at first, but is one of the simplest and most important ways to show respect for someone’s identity.
Advocate for non-binary friendly policies. It’s important for non-binary people to be able to live, dress and have their gender respected at work, at school and in public spaces.
Understand that, for many non-binary people, figuring out which bathroom to use can be challenging. For many non-binary people, using either the women’s or the men’s room might feel unsafe, because others may verbally harass them or even physically attack them. Non-binary people should be supported by being able to use the restroom that they believe they will be safest in.
Talk to non-binary people to learn more about who they are. There’s no one way to be non-binary. The best way to understand what it’s like to be non-binary is to talk with non-binary people and listen to their stories.
By Jamie McIvor
BBC Scotland education correspondent
Modern schools are expected to be open and inclusive environments.
Many actively seek to celebrate diversity.
Homophobic bullying is openly discussed in many schools in a way which would have been unimaginable a generation ago.
It is not unusual now to see rainbow flags or stickers in schools promoting LGBT rights and equality.
Many gay men or lesbians in their 30s or 40s who either experienced homophobic bullying or hid their sexual orientation at school may almost pinch themselves when they see the efforts some schools now go to.
But the T in LGBT may sometimes be a more tricky issue to explore.
There are no official figures on the number of schoolchildren who identify as transgender.
‘Increasing visibility and inclusion’
However the number is believed to be rising as transgender youngsters are becoming more confident about their identity.
Detailed guidance on how to support transgender pupils was drawn up last year by the charity LGBT Youth Scotland – the Scottish government is supportive.
The document is almost 60 pages long and covers a wide range of issues.
The guidance is not statutory but would be seen by supporters as an example of best practice.
It is up to individual councils to decide how they should be put to use or incorporated into their policies.
It is reasonable to suppose that the many schools and teachers will have little experience of supporting a transgender student or may have never knowingly had a transgender child.
In the introduction to the guidance, James Morton of the Scottish Trans Alliance wrote: “Over the last few years, increasing visibility and inclusion of trans people means that more people are feeling confident to come out as trans at younger ages instead of keeping their gender identities hidden for decades in fear.
“Whilst it is great that young trans people are increasingly being accepted and supported by their friends and families, we know that some schools have struggled to keep up with the fast-paced changes in this area.”
The guidance deals with a huge range of issues including how to help children who want to come out, beating bullying and the use of gender neutral language.
It also touches on issues such as social dancing, school uniform and PE.
The points made in the guidance include:
- Allowing transgender pupils to choose which toilets and changing rooms they use.
- Teachers are advised not to disclose information to parents or carers without a child’s permission.
Critics have expressed concern about how putting the guidance into practice could affect other pupils – for instance the effect on girls if someone born with a male body starts to use their changing rooms.
A number of councils which are supportive of the guidance say they have not carried out an assessment of its possible impact on other pupils.
The Christian Institute is preparing to launch a legal challenge amid concern about the practical impact of measures to support transgender pupils on others.
A feminist campaigner, Jess Stewart, is quoted in a newspaper as saying councils were “obviously wanting to do the right thing (to support transgender pupils) which is great. But they’ve done it without considering girls”.
A spokesman for LGBT Youth Scotland said the guidance was developed in collaboration with a wide range of organisations and there was consultation with parents, teachers and young people.
He added: “The guidance represents what we believe to be best practice in supporting transgender young people and is not statutory.”
Research by LGBT Scotland suggests that between 2012 and 2017, the proportion of young LGBT people who described school as a bad experience fell significantly from 64% to 46%.
Purely amongst transgender youngsters, the trend was similar but a noticeably higher proportion – 53% – still said school was a bad experience.
Some had experienced transphobic attitudes amongst staff.
One young person told the charity: “Teachers in my school were actively transphobic towards an FTM boy. He overheard two teachers talking about how ‘freaks’ like him shouldn’t be ‘allowed to mix with normal children’.”
A Scottish government spokesman said: “The guidance is not a Scottish government publication, however we are supportive of this work, developed by LGBT Scotland, which we believe will reduce transgender discrimination.
“It is up to individual schools and local authorities to deliver relevant and engaging learning that best suits the needs of pupils.”
Supporters of the guidance argue some critics may be distorting it or are simply prejudiced against transgender people.
However, others believe that while the guidance is well-intended, the possible effect of practical measures on other pupils needs to be considered properly.
Linda Riley interviews Labour deputy leadership candidate, Richard Burgon
BY LINDA RILEY
Last night, at the first ever LGBT+ Labour hustings event in Manchester, both leader and deputy leader candidates alike were put to the test on LGBTQI issues in front of hundreds of people.
It was a chance for each candidate to really set the agenda on how they plan to bring Labour back to power and support the queer community. Discussing issues such as trans rights, conversion therapy and homelessness at the hustings, Leeds East MP Richard Burgon expressed how important it is to build unity within the Labour party, ensuring that the views of the LGBTQI community are voiced in parliament and elsewhere.
Richard Burgon has been the Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and Shadow Lord Chancellor in the Shadow Cabinet of Jeremy Corbyn since 2016, and the MP for Leeds East since 2015.
As the only deputy leadership candidate to not sign the Labour pledge regarding independent complaints procedures, DIVA publisher Linda Riley had burning questions for the Labour hopeful regarding various LGBTQI issues.
DIVA: What would you say are the biggest issues for LGBTQI voters and what would you do as deputy leader to address them?
RICHARD BURGON: All LGBTQI voters share the same concerns as everyone when it comes to public cuts, austerity and the rest of it. But specific to the LGBTQI community is the rise in hate crime and the rise in discrimination. I think that the main concern is the mainstreaming of hate and prejudice. Many of the battles we thought we won in the past need to be defended so that the progress doesn’t start going backwards.
How would you reassure the LGBTQI community in a post-Brexit UK that their hard-fought freedom is safe?
We have to work with the community and amplify its voice whenever we can. One way to do that in the Labour Party is to make sure we have better LGBTQI representation in parliament. I really welcome the fact that the Women’s Labour Conference now has policy making powers. Women know better than anyone else that policies need to be implemented in the interest of women. I think that if the LGBTQI community want that as well, they should have it in the Labour Party. I will work to ensure that we have policies informed from people’s experiences of how to tackle discrimination and to take it further.
How will you make sure that all identities and voices under the LGBTQI umbrella are listened to?
One way is the positive action on shortlists. The other way is to empower people from the LGBTQI community to stand for council, to stand for parliament. We need that representation in our party. The answers to all of these questions come from the community itself. We need to learn, listen and act.
You are the only of the eight deputy leader candidates that doesn’t want to sign the LGBT Labour pledge – could you explain why?
The only pledge I don’t agree with is that the party should have an independent complaints procedure. I don’t know of another organisation that does this successfully. I’ve signed up to every other pledge of the LGBT Labour Party. I’m a passionate supporter of those. I’m happy to discuss how there can be further independent features of the complaints’ procedure. It can’t just be enough for people who don’t have direct experience with discrimination to manage that. I think expert advice is needed.
Your campaign manager, Laura Pidcock, has been accused of being transphobic in the past – do you plan to expel trans exclusionary radical feminists from the party?
I certainly wouldn’t have anyone who is transphobic involved in or running my campaign.
She has expressed views that have upset the trans community.
She’s not transphobic. She can answer herself on her views and her opinions. To be clear, trans rights are human rights. I hope that the day is coming where people realise how ridiculous it is that we have to keep asserting that. The discrimination suffered by trans people is heart-breaking.
After I became an MP, I met with an organisation called Mermaids who explained this discrimination to me. I think of course we don’t want people who are bigoted transphobes in the Labour Party. It’s contrary to our party’s values.
When you consider the feelings of trans exclusionary radical feminists – do you consider that to be hate speech?
I’ve seen things on the internet which definitely do count as hate speech.
And you would expel them?
Anybody who is racist, anybody who is transphobic, anybody who is expressing sexist views or taking sexist actions, that’s not what the Labour Party is about. The discipline process has to deal with that.
What are your thoughts on LGBT education in schools, for example the No Outsiders programme, how would you stop this from happening as deputy leader?
I think that education is very important. Not only will school children learn about LGBT education as a result but actually their families will learn from it as well. I was horrified to see those protests outside of schools and something I do think should be done is to have an exclusion zone when it comes to protesting on these matters. It’s not right to subject children and parents to protests outside of the school gates.
With a government pushing us further right and a minister who abstained on same sex marriage, we need a strong opposition committed to protecting marginalised communities. What makes you the right person to deliver this?
In order to get equality, we need to fight the establishment, we need to fight views that have been prevalent amongst very powerful people for too long in our country. It horrifies me that we have a Prime Minister who uses homophobic phrases. This language needs to be called out and combated. As a deputy leader, I’ll be somebody who fights for all those suffering from oppression, but also somebody who understands that the answers to the issues don’t come from me. They come from the fact that I am committed to LGBT+ Labour members and let them put into practice their own solutions. If those members want it, they should definitely have a policy making conference of their own in relation to issues that face their community. I see it as a case of empowering them to lead the way in this struggle of oppression and I will support them.
We’re campaigning for greater lesbian visibility and we’re launching a Lesbian Visibility Week, will you pledge your support to #LoveTheL?
I think it’s fantastic and I certainly will pledge my support.
Who are your lesbian heroes?
Angela Davis, who came out in the 1990s, is a great hero of mine. She fights against so many injustices. As Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.” She has fought for socialism which I admire. I think as an intellectual, activist and socialist, she is my hero.
Why do you think LGBTQI women should back labour?
I think they should back Labour because it is a party of equality. We’ve got a fantastic LGBT group within our party who lead the way in making sure that their issues become our issues as a society. There’s a double discrimination faced by the LGBT community. I think that a Labour government rather than a Conservative government can deal with that. I would urge people from the community to give real consideration to backing Labour.
Last year, DIVA magazine celebrated 25 years on the newsstands. Get behind LGBTQI media and help us celebrate another 25. Your support is truly invaluable.
‘Hate raids’ have been increasing on Twitch as of late for marginalised streamers, with a hashtag aimed at the platform (#TwitchDoBetter) trending on Twitter as a result.
These raids are frequently done by follow bots, where hundreds will follow a streamer in a matter of seconds, calling them offensive names and sending abusive messages.
Not only is the streamer’s chat flooded with hate, they’re often forced to end their stream and then remove all the bots from their follower count.
This is exactly what happened to drag streamer Eevolicious recently.
If anyone is curious on how this works, it works as a follow bot (hundreds of accounts follow you in under 1 or 2 seconds) but this time with a nasty message from every one of those bots accounts. Mine had a p*rn video and a transphobic message.
“I was having quite a fun stream and playing some Dead by Daylight until I got follow botted by hundreds of bot accounts. This event was one of the many ‘hate raids’ that have been talked about,” Eevo told Pink News .
In this particular instance, Eevo’s stream was followed by hundreds of accounts dropping a vile transphobic message – and a porn video.
“To be honest it was quite overwhelming. I was a bit lost and couldn’t think of solutions right off the bat,” says Eevo, who thankfully has a solid moderation team who immediately activated sub-only mode.
Having more steps to creating an account could help alleviate the issue of follow bots, as well as trolls overall. One suggestion is even to have Two Factor Authentication to allow viewers in chat.
“I’m just a creator expressing my discontent with how we always feel like a second thought or a token on this platform,” says Eevo. “We want to be treated with respect and dignity. Through all these years we were always the ones to stand up for our needs, be it for one LGBTQIA2+ tag or 250+ tags, be it for Pride events, diversity or inclusion.
“I just want to be proud of streaming on this platform and feel like I’m welcome in here. I don’t want to be a martyr anymore, I want to be celebrated for the positive things we all bring to everyone’s lives out there, not a drama episode of how hard our life is.”
Hate raids are a problem across Twitch
Eevo isn’t alone, though. With #TwitchDoBetter trending, there are a worrying number of similar stories from streamers of hate raids and abuse on the platform.
Omega Jones, a.k.a Critical Bard, is another Twitch partner who has been hate raided.
In a video on Twitter he shows exactly what happened, with the caption “It was bound to happen eventually.”
“When marginalised creators on this platform, specifically people of colour, tell you that Twitch needs to do better? Just listen,” he says.
Many feel that Twitch is not doing enough to keep marginalised streamers safe on the platform, due to the number of hate raids, follow bots and trolls.
What’s more, Twitch takes a 50 per cent cut of all streamer revenue. With streamers making a livelihood on the platform, this represents a huge chunk of money that they lose, despite working on a platform that allegedly fails to protect vulnerable people.
All of my friends are getting hate raids lately. #TwitchDoBetter. Make the platform safe for us, first and foremost. And give us a bigger cut of the revenue as well. The amount of trolls and harassment marginalized streamers put up with does not make 50% sub revenue worth it.
There’s no reason why banned accounts can still see my content.
There’s no reason why hate websites can link our content.
You take 50% of our earnings but we are still hate raided, still follow botted, still targeted. #TwitchDoBetter
I see #TwitchDoBetter trending – marginalized creators raising their voices because the platform isn’t taking enough action to keep them safe from hate raids.
Feb 8, 2018: “Watch us closely and hold us accountable.”
Streaming is a job. You do something in exchange for currency. How it is taxed up the wazoo, provides no benefit options, and creates an unfair market for marginalized people makes it a tilted job for said marginalized people. We still do it, and we can demand better from @Twitch
— Zaki the Proud Owl (He/Him) 🇪🇬🦉 (@ProudOwlCrafts) August 9, 2021
What are you doing to stop black streamers from being hate raided ? @Twitch
I spend hours, days, weeks watching Twitch streams and I constantly come across marginalised streamers being hate botted/raided with little to no action from Twitch. #TwitchDoBetter because a lot of us are suffering here day in and day out on your website.
How do you deal with follow bots? Using Commander Roots tools to remove followers is the best method, though as Eevo says, it’s a “tiresome task”.
Thankfully, streamer Just Jess has tweeted a video that explains how to remove follow bots – a great reference for any victims.
Got follow botted at the end of stream yesterday. Made this video to help if it ever happens to you, but also, #TwitchDoBetter pic.twitter.com/aqIrXAKJGg
PinkNews has contacted Twitch for comment.
Flora advertised its partnership with Mumsnet on its packaging (Twitter/@Mimmymum)
The popular butter spread, Flora, has become the latest brand to cut ties with the UK parenting forum Mumsnet due to its ‘transphobic’ content.
Examples of strong anti-trans sentiment from some Mumsnetters include anger over the NHS’s rainbow badges and a boycott of the Co-op after an advert for strawberries featured a trans woman.
Flora had teamed up with Mumsnet to do a ‘taste test’ and subsequently advertised its partnership with the site by adding a ‘Mumsnet Rated’ symbol to the tubs.
This has now ceased after pressure from trans advocates, led by the pro-trans feminist @mimmymum, who urged Flora to “stop funding transphobia”.
She tweeted Flora’s owner, Upfield, noting their diversity and inclusion statement which pledges a commitment to equal opportunity and an intolerance of discrimination and harassment.
Seeing this, several other Twitter users joined her in condemning Flora’s association with ‘transphobic’ Mumsnetters.
Good grief, how is any company associating with MN? It’s a guaranteed way of telling a customer base it supports transphobia.
Yup, if @flora continues it’s support for transphobic Mumsnet, I will not use it either.
— Dr Natacha Kennedy #FBPE #Peoplesvotenow (@natachakennedy) October 10, 2019
Mumsnet rated for hate speech?
Wow @Flora, great way to make your brand toxic, especially to younger people ?
Hey @Flora it’s a good idea to check the organisations that you’re partnering with to see if they behave in a way consistent with your own diversity and inclusion statements.
Damn. I do online shopping for my mum and always get her Flora. No longer.
Ta for the heads-up. There are plenty of alternatives to @Flora.
Upfield replied: “We take our Human Rights and Diversity policies very seriously and so do our brands. Thank you for raising this issue and we’re currently investigating.”
But it didn’t take long for them to reach a decision, as just a day later they announced they’d be ditching Mumsnet.
“We’ve investigated. We are wholly committed to our values, which include treating everyone equally, so have made the decision to no longer work with Mumsnet. #DiversityMatters” they tweeted.
We’ve investigated. We are wholly committed to our values, which include treating everyone equally, so have made the decision to no longer work with Mumsnet. #DiversityMatters @Flora
Mumsnet responded with a statement defending the right of “free speech” of those using the site.
“Mumsnet will always stand in solidarity with minority communities. We don’t tolerate transphobic comments and will delete any when they are flagged to us. But we do also believe strongly in free speech.
“The discussion of gender self-id and what that might mean for very hard-won women’s rights, as well as the rapidly growing number of children exploring gender identity issues, is contentious.
“We know some people would like us to simply censor this entire debate but a similar number think we censor too much. We’re committed to allowing respectful discussion of an issue that is of particular interest to parents.”
Flora’s not the first brand to distance itself from Mumsnet: the frozen food giant Birds Eye severed ties with the site in April, and children’s charity NSPCC was forced to end a Facebook Live chat after Mumsnetters flooded it with a slew of ‘transphobic’ comments.
As expected, Mumsnet commenters responded to Flora’s announcement by urging a boycott of the spread and all of Upfield’s other products too.
This resource provides ten practical steps that will enable school staff to put in place an effective strategy to prevent and tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language.
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Ten steps to tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language in your school
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About the site
Mentally Healthy Schools was originally developed in partnership between the Anna Freud Centre, Young Minds, Place2Be and The Royal Foundation as a legacy project of the Heads Together campaign. From 1st April 2020 the Anna Freud Centre took full responsibility and ownership of the development and delivery of the Mentally Healthy Schools website including all content and quality assurance of associated resources.
On Tuesday, “The Walking Dead” actor Khary Payton voiced support for his 11-year-old transgender son Karter in a heartfelt Instagram post.
“Man, there is nothing more beautiful than watching your child feel the joy of exploring what it means to be true to themselves,” Payton wrote in the Instagram caption. “This is his journey, and I am here for it. I hope you all have the opportunity to feel the unquenchable love that I am feeling right now.”
Payton is among a growing number of celebrity parents who are supporting their trans and nonbinary kids. While parenting trans kids has also become more normalized in television shows and online, some parents may not feel fully equipped to support their trans or nonbinary child in coming out and living day to day life.
Insider spoke to Dr. Nanika Coor, a licensed clinical psychologist and parent therapist for Brooklyn Parent Therapy, on the best ways parents can support their transgender children through their social and sometimes medical transition process and parent them beyond coming out.
Trust what your children say about their gender identity
Sometimes, parents respond to a coming out by saying the child is too young to know that their gender identity doesn’t match what was assigned at birth. Instead, these parents may try to convince their kids to conform to societal expectations of gender.
“Many times these are well-intentioned parents operating from a place of fear for their child’s future safety and inclusion,” Coor told Insider. “Because our society doesn’t make room for gender creative or expansive people, it’s natural to feel worried about how the world will receive and respond to our child.”
In a 2019 study, researchers found no significant differences between trans and cis kids’ gender development, or how they grew to understand and formulate their gender. The findings also revealed that transgender children gravitate toward the same gendered toys, clothing items, and friends as cisgender kids, regardless of how long they had been socially transitioned — or live as the gender they identify as.
Coor told Insider she recommends parents trust children to reveal their own gender identity.
“Allow them the freedom to explore or claim identities for as long as they need to and in the ways they need to,” Coor said. “Celebrate & express love for who and how they are.”
Allowing them to socially transition can validate them and also reduce their risk of depression and even suicide.
Find a safe space to process fears about your child’s transition without projecting onto them
Parents might have negative feelings come up about their child’s transition, including confusion, mourning, or grief about the difficulties being trans can present in a world filled with transphobia.
“It’s valid to have those fears, but it’s not supportive to project those fears onto your child,” Coor told Insider.
“The best thing a parent can do is educate themselves, but also have a safe space to process their fears and uncertainties in ways that do not make the child’s behavior responsible for the parent’s emotional experience.”
In addition to support from a therapist or family member, specifically for parents, parents may find it helpful to seek mental health services for the entire family to guide everyone through the journey.
Normalize gender diversity in your home
While society may place expectations of binary gender onto your child, you can do your part to expose them to as much gender diversity as possible.
“Normalize gender diversity by making sure your home library, the media they consume, and the toys they play with reflect gender diversity along with all the other kinds of diversity we might prioritize such as race, ethnicity, culture,” Coor said.
Diverge from the idea that “boys play with trucks” or “girls play with dolls” and instead expose your child to a variety of toys and media that pique their curiosity to affirm their identity and show your support.
There are also lists of books that challenge standards of gender and sexuality that you can include in your personal collection.
Be an advocate for your child outside the home
Transphobic bathroom policies at school, bullies, and teachers who misgender or use the wrong name are just a few of the hardships trans children may face once they come out. Parents need to be there in support of their child.
“Parents can get involved with organizations and support networks that lift up trans and non-binary folks,” Coor said. “They can advocate for their child in their communities, and with teachers, family, and friends. They can continue to increase their gender literacy, and learn about and confront their own biases.”
Ultimately, Coor says to “celebrate and express love for who and how they are.”