By Afsaneh Moradian, author of Jamie and Bubbie: A Book About People’s Pronouns
Pride month is a time for the LGBT+ community to come together (with the support of friends, family, and allies) and celebrate how far people have come in winning visibility, acceptance, and legal rights. If you’ve ever been to a Pride march, you know it’s a celebration born out of decades of struggle.
This Pride, transgender youth need our support. In the past few months, over 200 anti-trans bills have been introduced across the United States. Many of these bills are aimed directly at trans youth. At the heart of these bills is the desire to single out and marginalize trans children and deny them the community and acceptance that they need and deserve as children.
The bills that have received the most attention ban trans youth from participating in organized sports. The argument is that trans girls and women have an unfair advantage over cisgender women. The ACLU, which has been fighting these bans in court, explains that these bans are rooted in hate instead of fact. According to the information on their website, pitting transgender women against cisgender women drives a false divide that only serves to increase the policing of women’s bodies. The idea of a “real” woman’s body has long been detrimental to female athletes who have greater speed, more muscle mass, or broader shoulders than what is considered the norm. Challenging gender stereotypes and supporting women includes supporting trans women and girls.
Childhood sports are fundamental to building your body and mind, to learning how to work together and support one another, and to being part of a team, another family that accepts you and supports you.
So many trans youth are high risk for depression and suicide because they are not always accepted by their families, friends, and communities when they come out as transgender. According to the ACLU, 22 percent of trans girl face so much harassment at school that they leave. Another 10 percent are driven out. These laws single out a group of children and reinforce the idea that they do not belong and do not have the right to the same childhood experiences as other children.
If you haven’t already, reach out to the transgender kids in your life. Let them know how amazing they are, exactly how they are. Make sure that they feel loved and have supportive people to talk to, especially adults. Find out if the child’s school community is supporting of transgender students and what effort the school is making to create a safe and inclusive environment for LGBT+ youth.
While it’s difficult, we should be talking about why these bills are being introduced and passed. It’s not because trans kids and adults are different or wrong, but anti-trans bills are a way to sow hatred and division. It’s no coincidence that laws are being passed at the same time that prevent women from having full control over their bodies. Unfortunately, the United States has a long history of denying equal rights to different groups of people, which is why the country has an equally long history of struggle and movements for social change.
As parents, teachers, caregivers, and authors, it’s more important than ever that we show our opposition to these laws and the abhorrent ideas behind them. Here are some ways to support transgender youth while celebrating Pride this month:
- If you’re able, go as a family to a Pride March and/or participate in Pride events
- Hang the transgender flag in your window or posted on your lawn
- Speak with neighbors about visibly showing that the neighborhood supports LGBT + youth
- Include books that feature transgender characters and support LGBT+ youth prominently featured in the classroom, school and neighborhood libraries, and at home
- Check if your local schools have inclusive policies that recognize a transgender student’s chosen name and correct pronouns and guarantees their right to use bathrooms, changing rooms, and participate in organized sports teams that are in line with their gender
- Have conversations with children about pronouns–remind them not to assume someone’s pronouns, that pronouns can change, and of the need to use a person’s correct pronouns once you know them
Afsaneh Moradian has loved writing stories, poetry, and plays since childhood. After receiving her master’s in education, she took her love of writing into the classroom where she began teaching children how to channel their creativity. Her passion for teaching has lasted for over fifteen years. Afsaneh now guides students and teachers (and her young daughter) in the art of writing. She lives in New York City.
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