"i'm not a boy, i'm a princess!"

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  1. 1. "I'm not a boy, I'm a Princess! Working with Gender Variant Children Morganne Ray Crouser, LICSW Translating Identities Conference October 10, 2015
  2. 2. Gender Identity Sex Gender Expression The Basics
  3. 3. Language Transgender Gender Expansive Gender Nonconforming Gender Variant Gender Liberated Genderqueer and Gender Dysphoria
  4. 4. Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask No matter how experienced and/or enlightened we are, cultural norms and systems of oppression still have ways of sneaking into our perceptions and reactions. Checking and challenging internalized cis-sexism is a constant battle that requires frequent attention.
  5. 5. Safety First - Be aware of federal, state and local laws and policies that protect transgender children (GLAD and Lamda Legal are good resources for this) - Respond immediately to reports of harassment/violence of any kind to ensure the childs safety - Support the child in making informed decisions about when and where to express aspects of their gender, in order to strike a balance between authenticity and safety
  6. 6. Who did you confide in as a child? Why did it feel safe to do so?
  7. 7. Create a Supportive Environment - Keep conversations confidential (and disclose early if you are a mandated reporter) - Avoid making assumptions - Use inclusive, affirming, nonjudgmental, and gender-neutral language - Dont ask questions just to quell your curiosity - Trust that the child knows themself
  8. 8. Supporting the families
  9. 9. Initial Family Reactions Fear Is my child safe? Will people hurt them? Guilt What did I do wrong? Uncertainty Is my child actually a boy or a girl? Loss My boy/girl is gone forever. Worry Will my child be able to get a job? Anger I didnt choose this! Hurt - Why does this have to happen to me?
  10. 10. Yes, Talk to these Folks - co-parent - therapist - adult friends - support groups - service providers - other helpful adults No Thank You - the Child - the Childs siblings - any other children Process those Tough Feelings with: Siblings can talk to parents, therapists, and other supportive adults to process their feelings. There are even sibling support groups!
  11. 11. Supporting Families - Provide resources for families to learn more and connect with other families of gender variant children. - Validate the parents fears and concerns for their childs health and safety, while correcting misinformation. - Support families in requiring respect from extended family, schools,. service providers, etc. - Encourage families to keep documentation illustrating the childs gender journey in order to educate others when necessary
  12. 12. Working with little kids
  13. 13. Child Development Age 4 understand gender and can define boy and girl Age 5 - understand that biological sex does not change Age 6 - reinforce gender normative behavior among peers
  14. 14. What is Actually Distressing? Academic Struggles, Poor Hygiene, Social Problems, Angry Outbursts, Anxiety, Oppositional Behaviors, Withdrawal, Hyperactivity, Disassociation, Sibling Rivalry, Psychosis, Impulsivity, Depression, Attention Difficulties, Mood Disturbances, Overactive Imagination, Communication Issues -or- Feeling constantly invalidated and/or invisible?
  15. 15. Be an Advocate - Stay cool, calm and collected - Assume competence and best intentions - Know the rights and protections afforded the child - Provide specific, relevant resources Schools Schools In Transition by the ACLU, Gender Spectrum, HRC, NCLR & NEA Sports Teams On the Team by Pat Griffin Doctors Affirmative Care for Transgender & Gender Non-Conforming People by the Fenway Institute Faith Communities Transitioning to Inclusion by the CLGS - Follow up and offer support - Bring back up when necessary
  16. 16. Working with big kids
  17. 17. Fitting in with Peers Find ones Authentic Self Adolescent Development Competing Developmental Tasks - versus - pressure to decide concerted effort given to passing within the binary increased urgency regarding transition
  18. 18. Good Choices Trans youth need to know how to keep themselves safe and healthy. They may need support in choosing how to navigate situations like: - Coming out - Dating - Sex - Finding/making community - Using gendered public spaces (bathrooms, locker rooms, etc) - Transition options
  19. 19. 20 Questions!
  20. 20. Know Your Stuff - Educate yourself on transition options available to transgender youth - Be aware of health care protocols like the Primary Care Protocol for Transgender Patient Care and the WPATH Standards of Care - Become familiar with financial resources such as grants from Jim Collins Foundation, Point 5cc and TUFF
  21. 21. Know When You Dont Know Its okay not to have all the answers to every question. Its even okay not to have answers to most of the questions. -but- It is also important to connect the child with someone who does have the answers, or can help them find the answers. For specialists in your area, check with your local LGBTQ Center or look online for resources including: - World Professional Association for Transgender Health (Find a Provider) - Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (Resources: For Patients: Find a Provider)
  22. 22. Take Home Points - Let the child lead - Adults should get support from other adults - Do your research - Support informed decision making - Refer out when necessary
  23. 23. Want to Get In Touch? mcrouser@jri.org