Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
Shir Tikva in Troy welcomed Kim Pearson of Trans Youth Family Allies on May 3 for a presentation on recognizing and helping transgender youth.
The Arizona mother of three has been a strong voice for transgender children since her youngest child revealed himself to be an affirmed male five years ago. She spoke about what she’s learned as a transgender parent and as the co-founder of TYFA, which has helped more than 300 families nationwide.
“You cannot take what you know about transgender adults and downsize it to transgender children,” Pearson began. Although some transgender adults might be able to say they “feel like they are born in the wrong body,” young children don’t express themselves in those terms, she said. “They’re not confused about their gender identity. They know who they are. They are confused why other people don’t get it.”
Pearson and volunteers around the country step in to provide resources for parents with gender variant children. They help facilitate discussion with school districts that may not know how to properly respect a transgender child’s rights. They provide legal, medical and counseling referrals, and they work to educate the public and the media.
Another key aspect of TYFA’s work is educating the public about how to respect children who do not meet society’s expectations for gender expression.
Pearson explained that even among men and among women there are varying levels of femininity and masculinity – a continuum, she said. People are likely to be punished if they express themselves too far from what the “gender rules” are.
Children who have a gender that is different from their biological sex often get frustrated, Person told the audience. Some even try to hurt themselves by attempting to remove their genitals – which they see as the cause of their problems. “This situation comes up over and over again,” she said.
Pearson encouraged people to be more open-minded and aware of the ways they may enforce gender stereotypes. “The rules are socially constructed. If you don’t buy into this then the rules change. When you stay quiet things stay the same.”
Pearson and Shannon Garcia of Holland, Mich., formed TYFA together. The nonprofit will open its first brick and mortar office in Los Angeles soon.
For more resources about gender variant youth, visit the TYFA website at http://www.imatyfa.org.