What does it mean to be transgender, and how can we explain that in a way that kids will understand? Chris Edwards, a transgender man, offered his answer in last Sunday’s Boston Globe Magazine.
Edwards, an advertising executive and author, shared a conversation with his two nieces, ages nine and eleven, in which he explained, “When I was born, I had a girl’s body…. But I knew I was a boy ever since I was four and couldn’t understand why everyone thought I was a girl and why my body didn’t match. I was really really sad for a long long time…. Finally, I got the courage to tell Mimi and Popsie and your mom and Aunty GG. They were so supportive and helped me find the right doctors who could help me. And now that my body matches who I am, I’m so happy and everything’s OK.”
His nieces’ were “unfazed,” and Edwards suggests that in explaining what “transgender” means, “starting early is the way to go — when kids are at the age when they are most open-minded.”
Personally, I figure that if kids know their real gender identity from the age of four, like Edwards, or even earlier, like Jazz Jennings, then they (trans or not) can certainly learn what it means to be transgender at that point, using age-appropriate explanations like Edwards gives above. The growing number of books for and about transgender and gender nonconforming children can also be a help.
Thanks to Edwards for sharing his story!