I reckon the future’s in good hands.
I recently had the chance to help out and speak at a couple of school events dealing with gender issues.
In the first, I only provided links to some recent brain studies and helped prepare a presentation for two teenagers, made in front of about 1500 pupils and teachers. Their talk was powerful, highlighting the death rates among trans people, from suicides and murders, and making the case for (among other things) gender-neutral school uniforms. They did a bloody good job, too – it’s really quite uplifting when things like that happen.
The fact that they got the chance to do this – and the lengthy applause afterwards – made me wonder if we’re reaching some sort of turning point.
In the second, I got to speak to a pupils’ lunchtime group which discusses LGBTI issues, led by a couple of teachers. I won’t repeat what I said, since much of the information has already appeared in this blog (and the rest of it will appear in future posts). My main goals were to inform, reassure, and – when possible – to entertain.
The teachers appreciated the fact that I had citations for everything I said, and the pupils appreciated the fact that I covered a wide range of sex, sexuality, gender, history and culture (kudos from one girl when I included asexuality with the other types).
But if the group response was anything to go by, I think what they’ll *really* take away from it is my impersonation of Australian cuttlefish…
LGBTI kids still face a lot of discrimination, but public awareness is growing. Doubtless, things will improve further as more parents understand what their children (or their children’s friends) are going through and seek support.
Kids are more aware of these issues, because they are already part of the world they are born into.
In my own experience, a couple of my friends have been happy for their kids to see pictures of me, or meet me dressed up.
“[She] saw and liked your new Wild West photos.
She said, “Cool! He must have fun being able to dress in both boys’ and girls’ clothes.”
It probably helps when you can provide a friendly, familiar face (if not a respectable one…) 😉
“…it was interesting to me when she met you in full Twist mode because it challenged her expectations at an age when she was probably quite binary (genderwise)”
Obviously, openness and acceptance aren’t going to happen everywhere, immediately. But they do seem to be spreading and accelerating.
“Twist is the biggest challenge to identity norms I’ve offered my children.”
It’s going to be interesting to see where this all leads. A couple of years ago, I introduced a talk by Nathan Gale, who expressed the hope that trans- and intersex issues would be mainstream within Nathan’s lifetime. Back then I wasn’t so sure, but now… hm!