Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Transgender Schoolchildren & Peters' Luna

I've previously posted about transgender elected officials. Now there has been a slew of articles about transgender schoolchildren. Here's Sunday's New York Times article "Dispute on Transgender Rights Unfolds at a Colorado School:"
Coy Mathis was born a boy. But after just a few years, biology succumbed to a more powerful force. A buzz cut grew into long hair. Jeans gave way to pink dresses. And the child’s big cheeks trembled with tears when anyone referred to Coy as male. Halfway through kindergarten, after consulting with doctors, Coy’s parents informed their child’s school that Coy identified as a girl and should be treated as one — whether that meant using feminine pronouns to describe her or letting Coy wear her favorite dresses. “It became really clear that it wasn’t just about liking pink or feminine things,” said Kathryn Mathis, Coy’s mother, recounting how Coy had anxiety attacks when people treated her as a boy. “It was that she was trying so hard to show us that she was a girl.” In December, however, when Coy, 6, was a few months into the first grade, the Mathises angrily pulled her out of school after being told that she could no longer use the girls’ bathroom but could instead use a gender-neutral restroom. A letter from a lawyer for the Fountain-Fort Carson school district explained that “as Coy grows older and his male genitals develop along with the rest of his body, at least some parents and students are likely to become uncomfortable with his continued use of the girls’ restroom.” Now, Coy’s case is at the heart of legal dispute that is likely to test Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, which expanded protections for transgender people in 2008.

The SF Chronicle followed up on Monday with the article "New state bill on transgender students:"
California public schools would be required to allow transgender students to use school facilities and participate in activities and on sports teams that match their gender identity under a bill introduced at the Capitol. State law already prohibits schools from discriminating on the basis of gender identity, but backers of the measure, AB1266, say some schools and school districts don't provide access to restrooms, locker rooms or sports teams that align with the identity of transgender students. Opponents say the proposal is extreme and could result in male and female students sharing locker rooms or showering together.

Also on Monday, the New Yorker published the report "About a Boy: Transgender surgery at sixteen:"
Skylar is a boy, but he was born a girl, and lived as one until the age of fourteen. Skylar would put it differently: he believes that, despite biological appearances, he was a boy all along. He’d just been burdened with a body that required medical and surgical adjustments so that it could reflect the gender he knew himself to be. At sixteen, he started getting testosterone injections every other week; just before he turned seventeen, he had a double mastectomy... Skylar is an F.T.M., or “female-to-male,” transgender person, a category that has been growing in visibility in recent years. In the past, females who wished to live as males rarely sought surgery, in part because they could “pass” easily enough in public; today, there is a desire for more thorough transformations. Skylar took hormones and underwent “top surgery” at a much younger age than would have been possible even a decade ago. Yet, in his new guise, he doesn’t labor to come across as conventionally masculine. Like many “trans” people of his generation, he is comfortable with some gender ambiguity, and doesn’t feel the need to be, as he puts it, a “macho bro.” He is not sure yet if he will have genital reconstruction when he’s older...

The previous book I had suggested for transgender issues was Eugenides' Middlesex. But since these reports involve schoolchildren, it would be interesting to read a novel about a transgender youth coming to terms with his/her situation. For that, try the young adult novel Luna by Julie Anne Peters, National Book Award Nominee:
Regan's brother Liam can't stand the person he is during the day. Like the moon from whom Liam has chosen his female namesake, his true self, Luna, only reveals herself at night. In the secrecy of his basement bedroom Liam transforms himself into the beautiful girl he longs to be, with help from his sister's clothes and makeup. Now, everything is about to change-Luna is preparing to emerge from her cocoon. But are Liam's family and friends ready to welcome Luna into their lives? Compelling and provocative, this is an unforgettable novel about a transgender teen's struggle for self-identity and acceptance.

1 comment:

  1. There was also a recent article about transgender student athletes (
    and a UFC controversy about transgender fighters