10-year-old trans girl on being bullied by adults and accepted by her peers

I love it when we get to hear from young people about what’s going on in their own lives. Too often, the voices of those most impacted by youth issues are ignored in favor of adults. So I was glad to read the words of a 10-year-old trans girl in England who returned to school this year presenting her actual gender.

The girl’s mom told the Worcester News (in an article unfortunately trapped in the “trapped in the wrong body” frame, but which does keep the girl’s identity anonymous) that the school administration has been supportive of letting her daughter present as a girl, but some parents have walked by them muttering, “That’s that freak family. That’s that freak child.”

Her mom said there has been some bullying from the girl’s peers, but that the cruelty has mostly come from adults. Now let’s hear from the girl herself about how she’s been treated by her friends at school. From an interview on BBC 5 Live, via Pink News:

Of her friends, she said: “They haven’t really said anything. It’s been a little eye-up and then, ‘Whatever’.

“They haven’t really taken any notice. There have been a couple of little glitches but that’ll pass.”

However, she said she was forced to change for games in the disabled toilet after parents complained.

“It is split for girls and boys, but in PE and stuff I do have to be with the boys’ team,” she said.

“But my friends stick up for me and say, ‘He feels like a girl so he can be on the girls’ team’.”

I hope it’s clear that the acceptance she’s felt from her peers is much more important than the specific pronoun they use. Yes, language matters, but I know I greatly prefer the support I get from a friend who genuinely accepts me as myself, even if they’re not up on all the lingo, to someone who talks the talk but doesn’t ultimately treat my identity as valid.

Further, this girl’s experience is a pretty great refutation of “won’t somebody think of the children!”-type moral panic. Actually, seems like the kids will be fine, provided adults don’t poison them with their own hateful ideas.

h/t Dr. Jillian Weiss

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/megs528/ Megan

    I notice that with most cases that kids are more accepting, because they haven’t learned how to be hateful, yet. Maybe if we actually took our cues from kids the world would be a better more open place. People aren’t born hating, that is taught, so adults would do well to stop teaching hate, disguised as concern…or stop teaching hate period.

  • http://cabaretic.blogspot.com nazza

    I can only speak to my own experience, but I wasn’t really conscious of any sort of gender dysphoria until puberty. In hindsight, I recognize how I felt and the nature of my thoughts. At 10, I still had no way to vocalize or conceptualize it. I only knew that with any book I read as a child, I always related more to the female characters, not the males ones.

    And then after I became sexually aware, I always just assumed that this natural inclination towards the female was just because I found myself physically and intellectually attracted to them.

  • http://feministing.com/members/rebeccam/ Rebecca

    I wonder if children’s ability to accept gender diversity is exactly what transphobic parents are afraid of.