March 31st is International Transgender Day of Visibility. Transgender day of visibility (TDOV for short) was started in 2009 as a counterpart to Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day intended to remember and mourn the many transgender individuals that had died. TDOV was a day for Transgender people to celebrate their challenges, community, and culture.
The Transgender community has seen much progress in the past year, with the military ban against transgender individuals being lifted, and having the first transgender person to hold a senate-confirmed position, Rachel Levine. These legislative and governmental changes are good steps forward but sadly public opinion is a much more difficult issue to tackle. The way that transgender people are treated on a day-to-day basis is not largely impacted by these broad changes but rather the way the people interact with them during their daily lives. This is where we can be good and supportive allies to respect all people in our community.
Talking to kids about someone being transgender can seem like a daunting task, but in reality, kids are very flexible and good at adapting. If you know someone who came out as transgender or you see someone and your child starts to ask questions you might find it difficult to answer. Here are some good resources to help explain this topic to your child. HuffPost and CNN Health have good articles on talking to kids about transgender. The articles show how easy it is for kids, even older ones, to understand and be open to ways of life that they might not be immediately familiar with. Kids are extremely resilient and will be able to understand.
When talking about a transgender person in your house, you should try to always use the pronouns they are most comfortable with, and, if you don’t know which pronouns they use, then using they/them and gender-neutral language is the best option. You should also avoid using their birth name, sometimes referred to as their deadname, and instead use the name they have chosen for themselves. Lastly, it is understood that people take time to adjust and make mistakes. No one is asking for perfection on day one, simply that you respect them and their lives. The best way to be a transgender ally is to be respectful and willing to listen with an open heart.
If you are interested in additional resources:
Transstudent.org is a good website with the definitions of words that you might not know, I’ve used it a lot when researching for projects and discussions. The same website also has a whole section on graphics relating to transgender issues. If you are interested in this topic further, I suggest browsing this website and learning some new information!
The Trevor Project is also an amazing project dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ youth and they have a lot of the news on LGBTQ+ rights going on in the world. This site is also a wonderful source if you know a child questioning their gender or sexuality.