This morning’s New York Times has a fascinating article on its front page titled “Supporting Boys and Girls When the Line Isn’t Clear.” It’s a long and very supportive piece about children who, while born into one sex, identify themselves as belonging to the other. The author is Patricia Leigh Brown. (I don’t know how long it’ll be available to read because much of the NY Times requires an online subscription.) One particular feature of the article that made me read it was that it focuses on how this issue is being handled in Oakland, California, where I live.
After some introductory paragraphs, it tells of a 5 year old boy, called J in the article, who prefers to dress and play as a girl. J is blessed with particularly understanding and observant parents who saw that (pronouns are difficult in this situation) he/she wanted to dress as a girl. They didn’t freak out but instead have tried their best to accommodate J’s needs.
As described in the article, the problem for J’s parents, and all parents in this situation, is that this is largely uncharted territory. They’re all trying to find the best way to raise their children. It’s easy to understand their dilemma. As parents, we want the best for our children. And parents know that living as a transgender person in our society will probably not be an easy life. On the other hand, parents also want their children to be able to be true to themselves and freely express who they really are. The article describes how some of these families are coping and searching for answers.
Kids often heap abuse on other kids who are different. This is certainly a concern for the families of transgender kids. Many of us remember how “sissy” kids were beaten up or verbally attacked when we were in school. Ms. Brown writes about how schools in Oakland and elsewhere are trying to change the school culture to be more accepting of these children.
There are some resources available. These aren’t mentioned in the article, but a quick search of the web found two that sound very promising. One is something called TransProud. They look to be a very supportive organization for kids in this situation. There is also PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). I’ve supported PFLAG for many years, they are a quality organization. And Google brought me to the Safe Schools Coalition which has this website of resources for transgender families.