LGBTQ+: 4 Articles

Representation Matters: The Power of Finding Yourself in a Book

Throughout my life, I have discovered that reading provides an almost miraculous way of changing the way I think. There is no medium that better offers insight into the perceptions, feelings, and humanity of someone who is different from us. Through reading we become empathetic. Through reading we evolve. I have often emerged from reading a book, and felt like I was changed. In that, even in this digital age, I know I am not alone.  As children, reading shapes how we see the world. The characters, places, and stories we come to love in our books inform us as to what life might offer us as we grow up, and our world begins to expand beyond our own backyards.  For that reason, representation in all books, and particularly in children’s books, can have life changing meaning. Just as it benefits us all to see and read about characters who have little in common with us, we all deserve characters in books who reflect our lives and our own varied experiences, as well. ...we all deserve characters in books who reflect our lives and our own varied experiences... I grew up in the early 1990's. I do not remember reading any children’s books with LGBTQ characters. I know some—though not many—were out there, and I am grateful for the writers who paved the way. Yet even with those books in existence, I do not remember being aware of them until I was an adult. As a kid, I did not see LGBTQ characters in books, which became one more subtle, but powerful, factor in making me feel abnormal, my life impossibly out of the mainstream. I have spoken to countless other LGBTQ people who reflect on similar experiences, and I know that is true across the spectrum of identities, as well. If they all feel a similar absence, one thing is clear: Fill it, and many young readers will feel far less alone. Since losing myself in a book was one of my favorite parts of growing up, I always dreamed of writing for children once I had the chance. Even so, when the time came to actually do it, I kept trying ideas that somehow lacked resonance. Eventually, frustrated, I almost gave up. What changed everything was a piece of simple yet profound advice from a friend: “Why don’t you write something that you wish had been around when you were a kid, or a book you want to exist once you have kids of your own?” From that piece of advice, Papa, Daddy, & Riley was born.  For me, this book, which follows a young girl named Riley’s journey of emotional discovery after she is asked which of her two dads is her “real dad,” meets the two thresholds my friend wisely put forth. I am grateful for the opportunity to write a book that answers a question pondered by many children, especially once they start attending school and meet people whose lives can look so different

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Representation Matters: The Power of Finding Yourself in a Book 2020-05-16T15:44:48-04:00

Words Matter: Respectful and Accurate Vocabulary for Discussing Gender Identity With Your Teen

Understanding gender identity requires having the words to accurately describe it. Kathryn Gonzales and Dr. Karen Rayne included a comprehensive dictionary in their Magination Press book, TRANS+: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You, a comprehensive, uncensored guide for teens who are transgender, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming, gender-fluid, or questioning their gender identity, and for cis-allies.  This excerpt from the book’s dictionary provides some of the language you and your teen will need to understand and talk about gender. Advocate—A person who is cisgender and works and campaigns for the rights of trans, gender nonconforming, and genderqueer people and others who identify as a gender minority. Agender—A person who identifies as not having a gender; or, being without a gender. Ally—A person who is cisgender and who works with and campaigns in alliance (note the connection to the word ally) with people who area in the gender minority. Androgynous—A balance of the feminine and the masculine that includes aspects of both. Bigender—A person who identifies as having two genders. Biological Sex—A complex group of physical factors that are assigned to male, female, and intersex. The preferred term for this is “sex assigned at birth” because many people consider “biological sex” to be an offensive term at this point. Cisgender—A person whose sex assigned at birth (typically “female” or “male”) is in alignment with their gender identity. Cissexism—Treating cisgender people as though they have more rights and moral authority compared to people who are gender minorities. Cis normative—The assumption that cisgender people are normal and those who are gender minorities are not.  Coming out—Commonly understood as the first time someone discloses their gender identity or sexual orientation, coming out is actually something that gender and sexual minorities do throughout their lifetimes. Gender—A social construct that is often assumed to be aligned with aspects of biological sex, but that is far broader than biological sex. Different cultures have understood gender in dramatically different ways, with some incorporating an understanding of three or more genders. Gender binary—A categorization of gender as being either male or female rather than a spectrum. This is a harmful understanding of gender for all people because it categorizes them in ways that they might not feel comfortable with. Gender confirmation surgery—A group of medical procedures that changes a person’s body to bring it into alignment with their gender identity. Also called gender reassignment surgery; most people prefer the language gender confirmation surgery. Gender dysphoria—When a person’s gender identity is in direct conflict with their physical body, causing mild to extreme psychological distress. “Gender dysphoria” is a classification of mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM IV). Gender expression—The way(s) that a person shares information about their gender through their hair, makeup, clothes, and other external aspects of their appearance that they have control over. Gender fluid—A person who is able to incorporate all genders into their identity and to flow easily between them. Gender identity—A person’s internal sense of how they relate or do

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Words Matter: Respectful and Accurate Vocabulary for Discussing Gender Identity With Your Teen 2019-10-28T14:24:51-04:00

Helping Kids Understand Gender Nonconformity: An Interview with Jacob

Recently, Magination Press Family had the opportunity to interview Jacob, the subject of Jacob’s Room to Choose, a picture book by Sarah and Ian Hoffman. Jacob and his friend, Sophie, are gender nonconforming kindergartners. In this case, that means they both wear clothes usually associated with the opposite gender. In the story, Jacob and Sophie get chased out of the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms, respectively, because other kids don’t think they belong based on their appearance. Jacob’s teacher, Jacob, and his classmates help teach other kids in the school that bathrooms are for everyone, and everyone should get to choose which bathroom they’d like to use. In the interview, Jacob shares his feelings, experiences, and favorite things. MP: In Jacob's Room to Choose, we learn about how other kids reacted to you in the bathroom at school. How did their reactions make you feel? Jacob:  Bad. MP: Can you tell me more? Jacob: Sometimes I was mad. Sometimes I was scared.  I just wanted to use the bathroom and be left alone. MP: Did it help knowing Sophie was having the same problems? Jacob: It was better not being the only one. But Sophie felt bad, too. MP: Did the lesson Ms. Reeves taught your class help? Jacob: The kids in our class knew us, so they didn’t bother us so much. It was mostly the big kids. But having everyone help teach the big kids was good. Everybody in school learned to leave other people alone in the bathroom. That made things better. MP: How do you manage other public bathrooms? Jacob: My parents go in with me. Or they send me with a group of friends, so I'm safe. MP: How do you feel when people think you're a girl? Jacob: I don’t mind. Usually I don’t correct them, because it takes too long. But if I’m going to know them, I tell them I’m a boy. Otherwise they get embarrassed. Like my art teacher! She thought I was a girl all year. When she found out I was a boy, she said, “Why didn’t you tell me?!” She was really upset, but I wasn’t. What’s wrong with being a girl? MP: What would you like other kids to know about you? Jacob: I like the things I like, just like everybody else likes the things they like. I don’t really like it when you make a big deal about the way I look. MP: Thank you for sharing your story with us in Jacob's New Dress and Jacob's Room to Choose. Do you have another book in mind? Jacob: Sarah and Ian asked me what I want people to know. There’s lots of things, so I’m helping them with another book. MP: Do you have a favorite book? Jacob: My big book of Norse myths. MP: What do you like to do at recess? Jacob: I like make-believe best. And tree climbing. MP: What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? Jacob: Coconut. MP: Coconut. Seriously? Jacob:

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Helping Kids Understand Gender Nonconformity: An Interview with Jacob 2020-06-05T20:20:18-04:00