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My Friend Is Transgender
My Friend Is Transgender
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My Friend Is Transgender
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Youth

Everyone has a gender identity—a feeling or sense of being male, female or somewhere in between. Sometimes people’s gender identity matches their bodies, and sometimes it does not. A person may be born with a penis and identify as a boy or born with a vagina and identify as a girl. This person may have a gender identity that is called “cisgender.” Or someone may be born with a penis and identify as a girl or born with a vagina and identify as a boy. This person may have a gender identity that is called “transgender.”

When you share your gender identity with the world through clothing, makeup, how you talk, act and more, this is called “gender expression.” A person’s gender identity and gender expression can be different. Who someone is attracted to—their sexual orientation—is not related to gender identity and expression. Everyone has both a gender identity and a sexual orientation.

Gender roles are the unspoken rules in our society that say how girls and women as well as boys and men are supposed to behave. Sometimes gender roles can be harmful if they keep people from being who they truly are. For example, gender roles that say boys are only supposed to be tough and like sports may keep boys from expressing feelings like kindness or doing things they might enjoy, like knitting.
What’s important to remember is that people deserve to express themselves in ways that feels right for them and to be respected no matter how they identify, look or dress

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Parents

Gender identity is the feeling someone has inside about being male, female or something in between. Everyone has a gender identity. Sometimes people’s gender identity matches their bodies, and sometimes it does not. A person may be born with a penis and identify as a boy or born with a vagina and identify as a girl. This person may have a gender identity that is called “cisgender.” Or someone may be born with a penis and identify as a girl or born with a vagina and identify as a boy. This person may have a gender identity that is called “transgender.”

The term “genderqueer” can be used to refer to anyone who identifies as neither male nor female, both male and female or a combination of different genders. Genderfluid is another identity that is similar to genderqueer. Some people experience their gender as fluid. This means they may feel like a mix of masculine and feminine qualities or feel more feminine sometimes and more masculine at other times. This is called gender fluidity, and it is not related to a person’s biological sex.

Through actions and daily choices about appearance, people express a sense of masculinity, femininity or something in between. This is called “gender expression,” and it can be influenced by how someone feels inside, family expectations, society’s expectations and other influences. Sometimes people’s gender identity matches their gender expression, and sometimes it does not. Gender expression can also change throughout people’s lives as they learn more about themselves and what masculinity and femininity mean to them.

Gender identity and expression don’t tell us anything about who a person is attracted to. “Sexual orientation” refers to what genders we are attracted to.

Gender roles are the societal norms that dictate the types of behaviors that are generally considered appropriate for people based on their actual or perceived gender. As parents, guardians and other trusted adults, it is important that we recognize how harmful gender roles can be if we force them on young people. For example, insisting that a boy not cry when he is hurt or sad limits his ability to express a full range of human emotions and empathize with others. Gender roles can limit young people’s ability to be who they truly are when, for example, a girl who wants to play sports is instead encouraged to be “ladylike.” When children are encouraged in subtle—and not-so subtle—ways to adhere to strict gender roles, it can cause significant anxiety, insecurity, stress and low self-esteem for both boys and girls. 

With all this in mind, we can support children in shaping attitudes about gender that encourage respect for the many ways that people choose to identify and express themselves.

When you see people on shows who challenge conventional ideas about gender identity and expression, talk to your child about it

Do you think someone like Prince, who expressed his gender in lots of different ways, was teased for being both masculine and feminine? It seems like it’s not easy when someone expresses their gender in a way that people don’t understand. What do you think?

Talk to them about how people may be teased or bullied because of their gender identity or expression

It seems like it’s not easy when someone expresses their gender in a way that people don’t understand. What do you think?

Have you ever seen someone teased for being too much like a girl or too much like a boy? How did that make you feel? What did you do?

Have you ever seen someone teased for being too much like a girl or too much like a boy? How did that make you feel? What did you do?

Educators

Gender identity is the feeling someone has inside about being male, female or something in between. Everyone has a gender identity. Sometimes people’s gender identity matches their bodies, and sometimes it does not. A person may be born with a penis and identify as a boy or born with a vagina and identify as a girl. This person may have a gender identity that is called “cisgender.” Or someone may be born with a penis and identify as a girl or born with a vagina and identify as a boy. This person may have a gender identity that is called “transgender.”

The term “genderqueer” can be used to refer to anyone who identifies as neither male nor female, both male and female or a combination of different genders. Genderfluid is another identity that is similar to genderqueer. Some people experience their gender as fluid. This means they may feel like a mix of masculine and feminine qualities or feel more feminine sometimes and more masculine at other times. This is called gender fluidity, and it is not related to a person’s biological sex.

Through actions and daily choices about appearance, people express a sense of masculinity, femininity or something in between. This is called “gender expression,” and it can be influenced by how someone feels inside, family expectations, society’s expectations and other influences. Sometimes people’s gender identity matches their gender expression, and sometimes it does not. Gender expression can also change throughout people’s lives as they learn more about themselves and what masculinity and femininity mean to them.

Gender identity and expression don’t tell us anything about who a person is attracted to. “Sexual orientation” refers to what genders we are attracted to.

Gender roles are the societal norms that dictate the types of behaviors that are generally considered appropriate for people based on their actual or perceived gender. As parents, guardians and other trusted adults, it is important that we recognize how harmful gender roles can be if we force them on young people. For example, insisting that a boy not cry when he is hurt or sad limits his ability to express a full range of human emotions and empathize with others. Gender roles can limit young people’s ability to be who they truly are when, for example, a girl who wants to play sports is instead encouraged to be “ladylike.” When children are encouraged in subtle—and not-so subtle—ways to adhere to strict gender roles, it can cause significant anxiety, insecurity, stress and low self-esteem for both boys and girls. 

With all this in mind, we can support children in shaping attitudes about gender that encourage respect for the many ways that people choose to identify and express themselves.

Discussion Questions

After watching the video with your class, process it using the following discussion questions:
  • What are some ways the characters in the video express being masculine or feminine?
  • How might people express gender in not strictly feminine or masculine ways?
  • What are some ways other than through dress that people express gender?
  • Given what we’ve learned about gender, how might you react if you meet someone who is transgender or does not act or appear traditionally feminine or masculine?