National Transgender Awareness Week and Your Kids

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November includes National Transgender Awareness Week and Transgender Day of Remembrance (Nov. 20), and for many that’s a confusing thing. Maybe you’d rather not think about it, but as much as you attempt to hide it, this is an issue your kids will face in the world, and it’s important to talk about how to face it. Because if you don’t, you might be surprised how they react.

Why do we have Trans Awareness Week and Trans Day of Remembrance ?

It’s to commemorate and illustrate the number of people who identify as trans or non-binary who have been brutally murdered. Despite a very small part of our population openly identifying as trans, many face more violence than cause violence. In fact, sadly, this year over 20 trans Americans were murdered already. At least one of them was from South Carolina.

There was also some hot controversy in our state recently because of a Drag Queen Story Hour proposed at a library.

So, we can no longer pretend this isn’t going to touch our lives. Even if no one close to you is secretly LGBTQ and takes to heart everything you say on the subject and then internalizes it… your kids are eventually going to come into contact with trans people. And what is most important is how they treat other humans.

No matter your feelings on the often touchy issue, we can all prepare our children to be: non-violent and non-bullying. This alone can help to lower the risk of attacks and suicide among people who don’t conform to traditional gender norms. Yes, your words can attitude changes can help save lives. You don’t have to vote a certain way, believe a certain way, condone anything, or even invite anyone over.

You just have to make sure your kids know there will be trans people and the rule is to treat people with basic decency, not everyone except certain groups, and to clarify with specifics for kids:

  1. Don’t pick on people (like using rude names).
  2. Don’t glare, or point and laugh (nonverbal bullying).
  3. Microaggressions like tripping, bump into them or their stuff, is not okay.
  4. Targeted exclusion: physically excluding them from events or seating areas for no reason, show disrespect by ignoring their greetings or refusing to clap for their presentations etc., refusing to work in groups with any classmate is not how the real adult world operates and won’t be okay.

You do not have to:

  1. Agree with them on everything.
  2. Feel 100% comfortable with gender confusion.
  3. Enjoy them as a person.
  4. Invite them to your house, parties, etc.
  5. Tolerate any contact that makes you feel physically uncomfortable and unsafe.

Whatever you think of trans issues, how you treat people is about who you are, not who they are.

Also remember, being mean to anyone does not make them conform to gender norms. It doesn’t protect you if you feel unsafe. It doesn’t protect you from being turned gay or trans, if that’s possible. And frankly, if you think such an identity is a mental disorder, it’s probably not nice or smart to bully someone unstable.

So for Trans Awareness Week, we can start by being aware there are some meanies out here actually harm people for not being clearly “male or female,” and we do NOT want to raise those people or the people who made them think that was okay to do.

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Paula Billingsley
Originally from Columbia, Paula has also lived in NC, Florida, Alaska, and the UK before returning, after her husband’s deployment, to start USC School of Law. After passing the bar, working with education nonprofits, and going back for her Masters in English, she’s set aside being an active attorney for now to focus on her health, writing, and raising her baby girl, Evy. Paula knows life does not usually go as expected, like being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and sometimes it goes better, like eloping or adopting her best book review buddy, Evy! She binges on good tv, good books, good chocolate, good tea, and good conversation. She’s also a fan of winning, whether at board games or yoga. At home, she enjoys making art, music, stories, and tasty food with her family including two wild puppies, Poppy and Petra. Out and about, she enjoys being involved in theatre and music, like at Town Theatre, enjoying the outdoors and wildlife, attending Windsor United Methodist Church, shopping, volunteering, and traveling on the cheap! She does not enjoy laundry, social injustice, environmental destruction, the patriarchy, coffee, soda, kale, or pants. She’s excited and thankful to pursue her calling and bring her child up in this kid friendly town.

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