Today is International Transgender Day of Visibility—a day dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide. For parents, grandparents, or caregivers hoping to talk about and celebrate what it means to be transgender or non-binary, longtime Reading My Tea Leaves reader and supporter, Kit Ballum Cohen, has one of the most succinct and loving explanations I’ve seen. Like me, they’re a parent to a six year-old and when approaching the conversation with kids about what it means to be transgender or non-binary, Kit frames the conversation this way:
When we’re born, the doctors and nurses and our parents make their best guess as to whether we’re a boy or a girl. And the doctors and nurses and our parents are really smart, and often they are right—but sometimes they make mistakes, too. Sometimes when a child gets older, they tell their parents, “You know what? I know you thought I was a boy, but I don’t feel like a boy. I’m a girl,” or “I’m not a girl, I’m definitely a boy.”
And that’s great! Because then the child and their parents can figure out together how to make things right and for the child to be happy as their true self! Sometimes, people with this experience will call themselves ‘transgender’.
Other times, a child might say to their parents, “I actually don’t feel like a boy OR a girl. Is that okay?” Yes, it is! Lots of people don’t feel like a boy or girl, or feel like both, or feel like it changes. Sometimes these people will call themselves ‘non-binary’, which just means ‘not one of the two’.
And finally, how can you tell if someone is a boy or a girl or is non-binary? When they tell you! You cannot tell by the way someone looks—we are the only one who can know this about ourselves. So be grateful and honored if someone shares this with you!
If you’re looking for ways to keep the conversation going, head to Kit’s Bookshop lists
and follow Kit on Instagram!