Archives: 2014 & Earlier

The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals

Stephanie Brill, Rachel Pepper
Cleis Press
252 pages. $16.95.

This groundbreaking guide can change our perception of the male/female social order. As co-founder of Gender Spectrum Education and Training (www.genderspectrum.org), Brill helps families and educators support children who don’t conform to gender roles. Her research of these families with Pepper, coordinator of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) studies at Yale University, informs this book.

The authors distinguish between “gender identity” (the “internalized, deeply felt sense of being male, female, both, or neither”) and “sexual orientation” (the gender of those to whom one is attracted). Brill and Pepper quote children whose anatomies don’t match their names, correcting others’ misperceptions as soon as they learn to speak. By six or seven years old, a boy who identifies as a girl, for example, becomes troubled – even suicidal – if not allowed to wear dresses or be referred to as she. With eye-opening testimonies from parents and children, the authors analyze which parenting techniques are damaging or effective, and show exceptional compassion for parents making this traumatic transition with their transgender children.

Parents also must advocate for their children to win social acceptance by preparing families, friends, neighbors, and schools for what to expect. A step-by-step blueprint for showing schools how to support transgender and gender variant children is adaptable for parent groups, churches and other settings. The guide also helps parents gauge the experience of counselors and doctors, discusses medical options and legal issues, and recommends organizations and resources.

Brill and Pepper provide an indispensable handbook for anyone who works with children and teens. (415) 575-4700, http://www.cleispress.com.

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