A lot of folks worry about talking to kids about gender. They worry we are going to confuse them or “make” them transgender. There are many fallacies in these beliefs.
First, no one can “make” someone transgender. You either are or are not transgender. Kids are not going to be someone they’re not. Kids don’t like doing things they don’t like doing!
Second, confusion isn’t actually the end of the world. Creating space for kids wonder about gender and who they are is actually a beautiful privilege and opportunity for them to discover themselves.
Lastly, kids are WONDERFUL at emotions. They live in emotion. In fact, humans are neurologically “programmed” to connect; kids are not born hateful. They are taught to hate over time. Kids, instead, are actually born with an immense capacity to love. Kids also don’t get stuck on someone being transgender. They care just as much if I like cheese or why I don’t skateboard as much anymore. That’s why it’s so heartwarming to have conversations with them about gender identity when they’re younger. Because they just get it. They don’t need all the info. “You’re trans? Okay, I like cheese. Do you like cheese?”
Here are some other questions little kids have asked me at speeches:
- Do you like cheese?
- If you didn’t feel comfortable in the girls’ bathroom, why did they make you use it?
- Why didn’t you choose skateboarding over swimming?
- If you were both afraid and excited to swim on the men’s team, does that mean you felt ‘ambivalent’?
- I swim breaststroke too! (Kids don’t always understand the difference between a comment and a question.)
- At my school, we don’t make fun of people who look different. Anyone can use the bathroom. It’s just a bathroom.
- Girls and boys have longer hair. Girls and boys have short hair. It’s okay for people to look different!
- What did it feel like when people were mean to you because you looked different?