Why I Wrote. . .

Why I Wrote “When Panda Was a Boy: A Collection of Stories on Gender Identity for K-8”

Some people wonder why I would write a book full of stories on Gender Identity. First, when I use Gender Identity, I include GLBTQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Trans <Transgender or Transsexual or Gender Neutral>, and Questioning), because in the early stages of gender questioning, many of these identities come up.

When children as young as two-and-a-half begin exploring who they are, they don’t actually have the maturity or the words to explain what is going on in their heads. It is actually best if parents support this exploration, because it is a natural part of discovering who they are. To explore, young children mimic what they see or what they feel. If they have both a mother and father in their immediate family, they simply take on their own interpretation of what their parents do.

For example, when I was very young, I used to get shaving cream to put on my face and a razor with no blade to wipe it off. This was not a decision that I felt that I was a boy on the inside, it was simply role play. Children may take it to a new level and want to dress the part. Parents who indulge their children help their children explore what it means to them to be male or female. The children who emerge as “trans” are much more emphatic about their toys, clothes, colors they like, and activities for which they want to do.

Boys who want to take ballet are not necessarily making a statement about being gay or “trans;” they may simply want to dance, which is enjoyed equally by boys or girls. At two-and-a-half or three, it may be hard to tell whether it is role play or a decision, but relax. You’ll know if your child is “trans.” There will be plenty of opportunity for your child to make that decision. Being supportive for whatever they do actually helps the child be okay with their gender, whether it is male, female, or trans, and whether they grow up to be gay or lesbian, as well. Remember, their DNA is already determining these factors. You are simply watching them grow into what has already been programmed.

“Trans” children tend to make a decision before they are seven, if they are given that opportunity. This decision is often dramatic. They may refuse to where clothing if it is something the child identifies as being typically the gender they present and not the one they are. Toys and choices of color, activities, etc. are often the same way.

“Trans” children who are not supported by parents and other adults in their family may not come out until their teenage years or much older. As children grow into teens and young adults, it becomes a harder decision, because they have learned how to stuff those thoughts away. They may be unnecessarily moody or unhappy. Often, these children and teens are depressed and may try drugs or attempt suicide. Naturally, these are not the only reasons why children and teens become depressed, try drugs, or even attempt suicide, but this can be one cause.

As these people grow older, it becomes even more difficult to come out, especially those who have continued stereotypical roles. They often get married, have children and with each passing year, it gets harder. Most end up coming out at some point, because it becomes harder to stay in the closet than it does to come out.

The reason I wrote these stories is to help those children who identify as GLBTQ that it is okay. The adults in the stories are also role models for parents, which help the parents see how easy it can be to communicate about these issues.

Even if your child is totally into the stereotypical norm for gender, it is good for them to hear these stories to understand what other children may be going through. Developing compassion and empathy for others is difficult if parents shade them from those children who do not fall into the stereotypical norms and lean toward LGBT.

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