Bruce Parker

Are Transgender Youth an Urban Issue?

Filed By Bruce Parker | December 05, 2006 2:35 AM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, Transgender & Intersex

Recently, it seems that there has been a boom in the presence of non-gender conforming youth related articles circulating in the mainstream media(for example here). Almost eerily coincidental this increase in mainstream visibility coincided with an increased interaction for me, as INTRAA's Advocacy Coordinator, with parents who are supporting their gender questioning kids in various amazing ways. A new organization, loosely affiliated with national PFLAG, Transgender Youth Family Advocates (TYFA) that is based partly in Indiana contacted myself and members of the leadership of INTRAA in an effort to start sorting out how we can support each other and work together for our common goals.

These issues aren't just large urban issues. They are alive and well right here in the Midwest. I have done in person advocacy in a local school for a six year old gender queer kid. Sitting alongside his parents and insisting that the school is responsible for his safety and educating themselves about his issues was one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had since starting to be an activist. One of the important lessons for me about this is how repressive our binary gender system is for everyone not just those who transgress its boundaries by choice, destiny or biology.

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Nick Clarkson | December 5, 2006 11:24 AM

I hadn't already read the article. The tone of it is really irritating me. Do we think that the authors thought of this as a progressive stance on gender-variant kids? It's clear to me that the authors think gender variant kids are a problem that must be dealt with. At the end of the first page of text, there's some mention of parents' and mental health professionals' desire to protect gender variant kids from the "savagery" of other kids. But the proposed answer to the problem of protecting genderqueer kids is to encourage them to be "gender appropriate" (as if that isn't itself a form of [emotional] violence against that kid). There's no questioning of the culture that produces other kids' "savagery," no thought that other kids might be the problem rather than the genderqueer kid.

Melissa Williams | December 5, 2006 3:41 PM

I saw the article on Sunday and was actually happy about the progess in areas such as the Los Angeles Unified School District where there are policies enforcing that the school staff refer to children in their chosen pronoun, etc. Juxtapose this, albeit slow, progress to an article also on about GLBT people in Egypt who are routinely tortured and forced to work as informants in the GLBT community. It is hard to see how far our country has come on these issues until you compare the U.S. to places like Egypt. I am in no way condoning the U.S. or accepting the status quo, but I would say the majority of people of the planet have never thought of or questioned the binary gender system. Every time my research prof brings up using gender as a categorical research variable, I always speak up and say, "Except for the people who don't define themselves as either of those choices" to which he replies, "The NIH (National Institute of Health) only recongnizes male and female and they are the ones funding the research." Gender variant people have a lot of educating to do.