Jazz: Transgender Children & Gender Independence

This post was inspired by a special kid named Mazzy, whom I had the great fortune to have as a kindergarten student last year. Mazzy was born a girl but rejects all things "female" . Our teaching team gave Mazzy all the love, support and nurturing we could. The family appeared unwilling to talk about Mazzy's situation but they allowed her to dress the way she wishes, thankfully.

It was a tricky slope with some of the teachers on my team feeling like we should maintain Mazzy's gender as female; for school intents and purposes. I spoke with Mazzy once where she told me she knew she was a girl but did not want to be a girl. I said that I knew she wanted to be a boy and that it was ok for her to feel that way. With the family not opening up about the situation, we maintained Mazzy's gender pronoun as "she" and assigned her to the girls' bathroom. All in all, this beautiful, brilliant child adjusted remarkably well to it all. I'm still learning what the variations for children are when early gender and sex role identification begins. It's hard to tell if Mazzy ashews typically "girl" activities because she does not fit the socially defined stereotype (gender independent) or if she is a small transgender person who is really male.

I worry about Mazzy. And I'm resentful that our school psychologist is so useless that he doesn't recognize the importance of having a serious conversation with Mazzy's family about how to handle her wanting to be the person that she was truly meant to be. Good counseling could help Mazzy define her feelings and help the adults in her life to help her. Bad counseling could do a world of harm. And there is plenty of the latter around.

I think the first video is a great example of how this sensitive topic should be handled. The second, features a little girl named Jazz who speaks for herself.

Our teaching team was basically told that we can't broach the subject unless the family does first. I think this is tragic. Notice the percentage of suicides of"non-gender normative" people. We're not sure if Mazzy will be returning to our school in the fall. If she goes somewhere else, I'm hoping it will be a school system with a sensitive, insightful psychologist who can help Mazzy and her family prepare for her nurturing over the course of her childhood and young adulthood.

I struggled with what pronoun to use to describe Mazzy in this post. At first, I started with "he", because I believed strongly that Mazzy is transgender. But then I had a chat with my daughter, who is a college student majoring in Gender Studies. She told me that without really knowing what's going on with Mazzy because so few people are willing to discuss this issue with her or her family, that it's hard to tell what's going on. Clearly she is not fitting the social norm for what it means to be a girl. But she could be okay with being a girl (she's never really objected to using the girl's bathroom; but she also never corrects other kids and adults when they assume she is a boy). Or she could simply be truly unhappy with society's definition of what it means to be a girl.

Further Resources:
Transgender Children Face Unique Challenges

Understanding Transgender Children

Transkids Purple Rainbow Foundation

Family Pride's Blog


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