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According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, transgender means of, or relating to, or being a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity from the one which corresponds to the person’s sex at birth. Children have commonly developed their gender and identity roles by the age of three. At such a young and tender age, it is important that schools be prepared to handle situations these children may face as well as give them the support they may need. In 2013, a 6 year old boy from Colorado Springs always felt that she was meant to be a female. As early as 18 months old, when she was first able to communicate with her parents, she expressed herself as a girl. This child brought national attention to the pre-adolescence transgender child issue.
She was denied access to the girls’ bathrooms at her school. Her parents filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division and the subject of whether children really know their gender at this age came up for debate. According to Dara Hoffman (2013), who has worked with transgender children, teens, adults, and the elderly, the common thing about transgender awareness is that it comes at a very young age. “There’s just an innate sense of gender, even before they know that boys do this stuff or girls do this stuff’ (p.1). Kevin Everhart, PhD (2013), is a clinical psychologist and early childhood specialist. He explains of transgender children that they have “an unshakable conviction and a knowledge that they are the sex they believe they are. (p.2). In New Hampshire 2012, the Nashua School District took a stand for a transgender student.
A third grade child started the school year as a boy, but returned after winter break as a girl. She was initially accepted but a parent complained and the girl lost her right to use the girls’ bathrooms and staff and students went back to referring to her as a boy. Behavior issues began arising, so her mother enrolled her into a new school as a female. Her new school took precautions to protect her right for privacy during the enrollment period and made sure school staff and counselors were made aware of the circumstances should the child need support. Today, there are many school professionals who do not have experience with transgender children and have not had the training or knowledge to respond to their needs. It is in school where children have the least positive environments with their gender roles. Boys will be mocked for not taking on the masculine roles, or playing with the boys’ toys.
Girls will be judged for choosing the less feminine behavior and acting more like a boy (Mallon and DeCrescenzo, 2006, p.231). Research suggests that having supportive school staff, especially school psychologists, may help reduce the negative encounters and emotions lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth come in contact with. According to drag 90% of transgender students, 1 in 10, do not feel safe at school. It has been estimated that 33% of transgender youth have attempted suicide (dragitout.org.)