March 18, 2013
In recent years, transgender rights have been becoming more and more a part of public consciousness. From laws disallowing discrimination in matters of housing and employment to growing rights around public accommodation such as being able to use bathrooms of one’s chosen gender, the needs of people who fall outside the gender binary are being acknowledged.
Many transgender people become aware of their status at a very early age. Some children identify as the opposite gender than the one they were assigned at birth almost as soon as they begin to talk. For these children who know deeply who they are, the difficult part is often making those around them aware of their identity and needs. Some school districts have taken steps in the right direction, letting transgender children use their chosen name and gender on forms and in classrooms, use the bathroom of their choosing, and not letting anyone know about the child’s assigned gender unless the child chooses to disclose it themselves. Recently, a transgender third-grader in New Hampshire won the right to be treated as a girl at school. “Score one for tolerance, and the increasing strides grown-ups are making in understanding that gender isn’t always definitively settled the moment a baby is born,” says a recent Salon.com article about the girl. Transgender children, once labeled as “mentally ill” now have options such as hormones, surgery, and full social transition–all of which were chosen by sixteen-year-old Skylar, the topic of a recent New Yorker article on trans kids. Many tra
nsgendered children chose not to fully transition, but stay within the realm of gender ambiguity or genderqueerness.
10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert, illustrated by Rex Ray (Seven Stories, 2008) is the story of a young girl assigned male at birth who dreams of dresses and tries to share her enthusiasm with family members who all tell her to start acting like a boy. Eventually, she finds a friend who accepts her as the beautiful, creative girl she knows she is inside, and together they make dresses like the ones she dreams about. A 2008 finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards, a 2009 Rainbow Book List book, and a honor book in the 2010
Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award, the book treats the topic of transgendered children honestly and sensitively and is a must-have for any parent that wants to open their child’s eyes to a world beyond the gender binary.