Helping Us Think Outside the Box (of binary gender roles)

I have a “day job” in the burbs. There are times when trying to find ways of helping people think outside the box can be a challenge. That’s when I know that just my opinion won’t count. I need to present “just the facts ma’am”. I needed to explain gender identity development in young children and concepts like gender fluidity in order to make sure we were being accepting and doing no harm. This is a subject I have some small knowledge of, but like I said before, my opinion and experiences were not going to cut it.


A few emails to friends and I was in touch with “Gender Spectrum”, and a week later I was at their 6th Annual Gender Spectrum Family and Teen Conference. Gender Spectrum is an organization “dedicated to the needs of transgender and gender nonconforming children and teens and their families and loved ones”. It was an amazing three days. Day One was for professionals working with these families: educators; medical doctors and therapists; lawyers, etc. Day Two and Day Three were for families: parents; a camp for children and a teen camp.


While the young people were at play, there were an unbelievable number of workshops and presenters (I think I attended at least 5 a day). Topics ranged from the biology of gender; advocacy and civil rights; social transitioning of students in school; anti-bias curriculum; medical care of transgender children; Native American two-spirit traditions; talking to your faith communities; fears of parents; school safety; launching your transgender young adult and the list could go on.


The most moving part of the three days was listening to the incredible stories of children and parents. The courage that it takes to truly be yourself and allow your child to be themselves was inspiring.There are so many challenges, but this was the place to get support and give support to others. And in this safe space on the waterfront in Berkeley, families could truly just be themselves. This event was clearly something that families looked forward to every year. It was a place to be nourished for what is a very tough but clearly rewarding journey.


If you are interested in learning more, visit the Gender Spectrum website