10 Ways to Support Children around LGBTQIA+ Issues
I’m often told that children are too young to be taught about LGBTQIA+ issues–that they’ll start identifying as “dinosaurs” if I keep “brainwashing them to be transgender.”
When we assume to know who kids are without asking, we’re creating a barrier to their authentic selves. Opening them up to language that supports self-discovery is crucial. Young children are ready to have meaningful conversations around topics like race, sexism, privilege, disability, identity, gender, consent, love (emotional/physical attraction), and so many others that often go ignored.
Around 2-3 years old, most children begin to communicate their gender identity. It’s important to note that gender expression and identity are two separate things. The way a child expresses themself doesn’t necessarily define their gender identity. By age 4, many children have a solid understanding of their gender identity. Gender identity can be fluid and change at any time as children develop. Gender dysphoria can start at a young age–as early as 3–and is typically experienced in trans children by age 7. Though, not all trans people–whether kids or adults–experience dysphoria.
How can we support children around LGBTQIA+ issues?
Seek out media with positive LGBTQIA+ representation. Find opportunities to highlight possibility models through LGBTQIA+ adults in their circles or queer culture. Ask teachers if they’re mindful of the gender binary showing up in their classroom—like saying “Good morning, kid/friends!” instead of “Good morning, girls and boys!” Make sure kids aren’t labeling cartoon people with gendered language (“man,” “woman,” “girl,” “boy”).
Ask “What are your pronouns today?” Give them space to express their gender identity without the need for it to be set in stone. Disrupt gender stereotypes. Swap out pronouns while reading to reflect a wide range of representation–and remember, pronouns ≠ gender. Use inclusive language (“firefighter” vs “fireman”). Don’t assume gender when filling out forms for things like camp–include kids in this process. Encourage them to ask questions, even if we don’t have all the answers.
Remind kids that they are loved, no matter what.
Check out some additional ways to support trans kids in this TikTok video of mine.