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Supporting Transgender and Gender-Creative Youth

Schools, Families, and Communities in Action, Revised Edition

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Edited By Elizabeth J. Meyer and Annie Pullen Sansfaçon

Supporting Transgender and Gender-Creative Youth brings together cutting-edge research, social action methods, and theory on the topic of transgender youth and gender creative kids. The chapters included specifically address issues in education, social work, medicine, and counseling as well as challenges and recommendations for families and parents. It is well researched and accessible to a broad audience of individuals invested in improving the social worlds of gender diverse children and youth.
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Chapter Nine: Ten Fingers, Ten Toes, and Potentially Trans: The Everyday Revolution of Gender-Diverse Parenting

← 127 | 128 →CHAPTERNINE

Extract

INTRODUCTION

While resources are starting to become available in support of children who have already asserted their gender-nonconformity, creativity, or transgender status (see Ehrensaft, 2011), little conceptualizing has been performed on preventing the damage done to these children before their “coming out” process. This chapter seeks to fill this gap, and describes an approach, termed “Gender-Diverse Parenting,” or GDP, which I will claim may improve the environment in early childhood to reduce the trauma done to transgender and gender-creative children, and increase transformative “gender justice” (Travers, 2012) for all children. Although potentially revolutionary, GDP is not a radical alternative to a neutral default. Rather, I show here how current parenting practices are actively harmful and intrinsically (though often invisibly and sometimes unintentionally) biased in favor of children who are willing and able to conform to the gender expectations based on the sex assigned to them at birth. I offer these challenges to the status quo not to destroy, and certainly not to insult, but to nourish and create space for children and the adults they will become to flourish as who they are.

I am a theorist situated outside the academic sphere; a scholar and practitioner of Gender-Diverse Parenting with my white middle-class family (which includes at least one gender-creative child); and, like so many queer women of my ← 128 | 129 →generation, a former “tomboy” and gender-creative child. I was born toward the end of the 1970s “unisex” era (1965–1985) of children’s clothing (Paoletti, 2012)...

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