Kids & Parents

When Inside and Outside Don’t Match

Have you ever looked in the mirror and been startled by what you see?

If you’re of a certain age (and I certainly am) then you’ve probably experienced the sensation of feeling 18 on the inside when you’re most assuredly not on the outside.

For others, it might be an issue of being slender but feeling fat.

But age and body image aren’t the most challenging instances of outward appearance not matching internal self-image.

Someone who is transgender or gender fluid  can experience this disconnect every day. 

Non-gender-specific toys
Public awareness of gender identity has increased significantly in recent years. The fact that we no longer limit people to a binary either/or, boy/girl identity choice is exciting, but can also be confusing.

What does it mean when someone identifies as cisgender, agender, bigender, or gender variant, for example? 

Acknowledging the broadness of the gender spectrum is increasingly relevant today.

Feeling confident enough to ask about someone’s preferred pronoun or acknowledging the importance of gender-accommodating restrooms are first steps we can all take.

The Des Plaines Public Library recently created our first-ever all-gender restroom on the 4th floor.

If you or your child would like to learn more about these subjects, here are some excellent titles to start your explorations.

Who Are You: The Kid's Guide to Gender Identity

Who Are You: The Kid's Guide to Gender Identity

by Brook Pessin-Whenbee

As the author says in the preface, “This book is meant as a tool to be used alongside the rainbow of other great resources out there in the world…” While it is easily shared with the young ones in your life, my suggestion is to read it yourself first (if for no other reason than the extensive resources included at the back of the book).  This is a great jumping-off point.

Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story about Gender and Friendship

Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story about Gender and Friendship

by Jessica Walton

Errol's best friend and teddy, Thomas, is sad because he wishes he were a girl, not a boy teddy, but what only matters to both of them is that they are friends. This is a wonderful book to share with a child as young as three.

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress

by Christine Baldacchino

In another story that can be shared with young children, Morris Micklewhite is a boy who loves to wear his favorite dress from the classroom dress-up box and finds a way to win acceptance from his classmate on his own.

Red: A Crayon's Story

Red: A Crayon's Story

by Michael Hall

Despite having a red factory-applied label, Red is really blue inside. When he gives up trying to draw strawberries and draws a blue ocean for his friend, Berry, he finally feels like himself. 

Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son

Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son

by Lori Duron

Having grown up with an older brother who liked girly things and later came out as gay, Duron and her husband assumed that their second son, C.J. – who has loved Barbie, the color pink, and makeup since he was three years old – was also gay. The truth turned out to be more interesting. C.J. is a boy who happens to also really like things usually associated with girls. As he said in August 2017 in an interview on his mother’s blog, raisingmyrainbow.com, “I feel like I’m a different type of boy. But I’m a boy for sure. I like both male and female pronouns. I don’t really care which ones people use when they talk about me. I feel like pronouns are no big deal. Pronouns are not important to me, rainbows are important to me.” 

George

George

by Alex Gino

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she's a girl.  When her teacher announces that the 4th grade class play will be Charlotte's Web. George really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. When her teacher says she can't even try out for the part, George comes up with a plan to not just play Charlotte – but for everyone to know who she is, once and for all.

The Other Boy

The Other Boy

by M.G. Hennessey

Twelve-year-old Shane, assumed to be a girl at birth, began transitioning three years ago when he started school in a new city. He’s now a star pitcher on his baseball team, loves working on his sci-fi graphic novel, and has his first crush on classmate Madeline. Just as he (finally) begins hormone therapy, a school bully shares an old picture of Shane dressed as a girl with the entire school, shoving his secret into the foreground. He’s forced to confront questions about the difference between keeping secrets and privacy. Shane is a likeable, mostly-confident boy dealing with a situation that would challenge the best of us. 

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