I’m blogging, Facebooking and tweeting live from the 2013 Gender Spectrum Conference, so check back here throughout the weekend for updates – which I’ll be posting to the top of the page, not the bottom. 🙂
7/14/13 at 4:40 p.m. — My favorite workshop of the conference was Diane Ehrensaft’s Understanding and Supporting Siblings of Gender Diverse Children and Youth.
It takes a family to launch a gender nonconforming child…but, that’s not necessarily what a sibling wants to do or how they want to spend their time. Are we asking siblings to step outside their comfort zone and/or do too much?
Two important jobs of a parent are to help the child be their authentic self and to keep them safe. When you are raising a gender diverse child, sometimes it feels like those two jobs are at odds.
Siblings are an often forgotten — but critical — part of the family support system. They outlive the parents. They are part of the same generation. And, they need support too.
Siblings can be that child’s best ally or worse foe, depending on the circumstances.
Sometimes the sibling has the ability to “out” their gender diverse sibling. They hold a lot of power. What will they do with that power? Are they being asked to keep a huge family secret? Is that fair?
Siblings typically want to help, but they don’t know what to do or say and that can lead them to feel inadequate.
Siblings can grow resentful of all the focus on gender.
What do siblings need?
- Empathy about their own anxieties, confusions and vulnerabilities.
- A place where they can air their own feelings out independently. They need their own space and often don’t get it.
- A dialogue between only the siblings (with an adult as a listener). The siblings talk honestly. How does it feel to be gender diverse? How does it feel to have a gender diverse sibling?
- A toolkit. What will they say and/or do when they get various questions and reactions from other kids?
7/14/13 at 3:47 p.m. — I attended a workshop put on by the Human Rights Campaign.
A while ago, the HRC surveyed 10,030 LGBT identified youth between the ages of 13 and 17 and issued the findings in a report titled “Growing up LGBT in America.”
You can access the report here; http://www.hrc.org/youth/about-the-survey-report#.UeLNSqWVh65
From that original report, two other reports were compiled and issued recently.
The Coming Out Experience for LGBT Youth; http://www.hrc.org/youth/download-the-report/#.UeLVH6WVh64
Supporting and Caring for our Latino LGBT Youth; http://www.hrc.org/youth/#.UeLVP6WVh64
Now, they’ve announced that there will be a third report. And it’s about gender and the emerging self-definitions young people are using to label their own gender. I got a sneak peek at some of the findings.
Here are some interesting things that I can share:
Of the 10,030 LGBT identified youth who were surveyed 925 identified as “”transgender or gender other.”
Of those 925, 89% reported that they are living with members of their family. Where are the other 11% of these 13 to 17 year olds living? As a mom, that worries me.
From those 925 “transgender or gender other” youth, 18 gender categories emerged as the youth self-defined their gender. Here are the categories:
- Gender queer (37% of participants)
- Androgynous (16% of participants)
- Gender fluid (9% of participants)
- General non-binary
- Other female
- Other male
- Gender as object
- Third gender
- General person
That’s all I can offer you for now. The HRC’s Gender Report is in the final stages and will be available this fall. I can’t wait.
7/13/13 at 3:45 p.m. — I spoke today on the Parent Empowerment Panel: Working With Schools In Service Of My Gender Diverse Student with Johanna Eager from Welcoming Schools. She provides professional development to schools and school districts that are interested in implementing Welcoming Schools by using their tools, resources and lessons. It’s a project of the HRC and, better yet, it’s free to districts! WelcomingSchools.org.
Also on the panel was Lisa Keating, the mother of an eight year old son who blurs the lines between boy and girl. She is also the founder and executive director of My Purple Umbrella. The mission of “My Purple Umbrella” is to provide a fun, loving, safe and creative environment for gender independent children 13 and under through play. They also provide a support network for families and caretakers. Check it out at mypurpleumbrella.org
7/13/13 at 3:04 p.m. — Attended The Biology of Gender Workshop led by Stephen M. Rosenthal, MD.
Dr. Rosenthal is a pediatric doctor at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and director of endocrine clinics at UCSF and led an effort to create a Child and Adolescent Gender Center to treat the condition known as gender identity disorder and to offer medical and psychological care.
Gender Identity Disorder is now called Gender Dysphoria.
Core Diagnostic Criteria:
- Persistent desire to be the other gender or insistence that s/he is the other gender.
- Clinically significant emotional distress.
- No concurrent physical “intersex” condition.
Other Things I Learned:
How common is the transgender condition? Not rare. 1 in 12,000.
Children of parents who pressure them to conform to “traditional gender norms” are almost four times more likely to attempt suicide and use drugs.
* * *
The first workshop I attended was Parenting for Greater Freedom of Gender Expression and Experience.
Workshop leader Abigale Ada Grace introduced herself and then said:
“I’m female body and female born and I’m comfortable in that. But I don’t feel comfortable as a ‘girl.’”
Things I Learned:
- Your Gender Experience is what you take in. What you observe. What you experience. It’s the reactions to your gender expression that you notice and absorb. You don’t really have much of a choice when it comes to your Gender Experience.
- When another parent cries as they struggle with their child’s gender identity, I cry too. I should have packed tissues.