Being a health and sex education teacher, I have been all for this. But last summer, I discovered that not all parents do. I found myself in a conversation with one of the parents who was worried about the “confusing” message sent by these changes. Another referred to this as “just the latest trend.” A third worried about grammar. And, at one dinner, more than one guest seemed to agree that using non-traditional pronouns was too difficult to understand and use for our generation.
While such arguments may be common, everyone has flaws. This is why:
It is too difficult to ask him to use different pronouns or new names.
There is no doubt that it may take some time to get used to the new name or pronoun of a young person, or use “them” as a pronoun if you have never done so. As a result, many people make mistakes along the way. But if you make a mistake, don’t take your mistakes as proof that you can’t make the change. Rather, try to see them as part of the process of supporting the identity of someone who is trans, not binary or questioning. And when are you wrong? Do not stop at that. Correct yourself, go ahead and work to do less in the future.
Many things in life require practice, but not making the effort with someone’s name or pronoun has much more serious consequences than, for example, not working to improve your French. Studies have found that using the name chosen by a trans or non-binary person and the pronoun identified can improve their mental health and can significantly reduce negative overall health outcomes. In addition, doing so helps increase a child’s self-confidence and promotes safer communities for all young people who are not gender-compliant.
It is just the latest trend.
As people with non-gender-consistent identities receive more public attention, it is easy for some adults to fire young people who appear as trans or non-binary simply following the latest trend or simply going through a phase. These adults can use this justification as an excuse to ignore the new pronouns or names chosen for these young people.
The fact that children’s current pronouns remain with them for life is not really the point. If a young man asks us to use a certain pronoun, rejecting his request on the grounds that it is only a youthful whim is wrong and dangerous.
Consider the fact that a 2018 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that about 40 percent of transgender and non-binary youth had attempted suicide at some time. Then consider the findings of a 2016 study conducted by the same organization that found that transgender children who are supported by their gender identity have normative levels of developmental depression in relation to cisgender children, while transgender children who do not They are supported in their identities have higher rates.
Pronouns are not grammatically correct
Language is always evolving. Therefore, it should not surprise us to know that although most of us learned to use only the singular pronouns “he” or “she”, there have been occasions when “they” were widely used as a singular pronoun of gender neutral. But despite what we may have learned, the pronoun “they” is already frequently used colloquially. Just think: if you see an erratic driver whose gender you don’t know, it’s common to exclaim: “I can’t believe they did that!”
The rejection against the pronoun “they” on the basis of grammar requires that we ask those who still doubt their use if adhering to certain rules of language is really more important than supporting the sense of who young people are in the world.
The children will get confused
This problem is often posed by adults who feel uncomfortable or confused. Unlike many adults, many of today’s young people feel perfectly comfortable with identities that their parents do not understand, and many grow up in a world where trans and non-binary celebrities, public figures, politicians and people with whom they interact . With every day, they are increasingly visible.
In my family, one of those people is the Hebrew school teacher of my oldest children, T. Wise, who identifies himself as a trans man. I asked T. if he felt that any of his students was ever “confused” about his identity and, if so, if that was an obstacle for them.
T. explained that before making the medical transition, young children often asked about their gender. But he said, “I can’t think of a time when a child seemed upset about this exchange. I think the fact that they are told there are only two options is what confuses them, especially when they see people who prove that this is not true, and they can intuit and often feel in themselves that there are actually many more options. ”T. said his students have been overwhelmingly understanding
What about the idea that if children learn that gender identity is not linked to biology, they will somehow be influenced to transition when they otherwise would not have done so? It is true that a more open world could allow more children to explore their gender identities. But as we know that conversion therapy cannot change sexual orientation, it is also clear that exposure to people who do not conform to gender will not make a child trans. What he will do is support those children who are trans, and remind all children of the great diversity that surrounds us.