When it comes to the experience of Transgender kids and which bathroom they should be allowed to use, I often hear people say, in an exasperated way, “What is the big deal with bathrooms, anyway? ” and “I don’t care if someone’s trans, I’m just tired of it being in my face all the time.” In addition to making me grit my teeth, and clench my fists behind my back, this kind of sentiment crushes my soul a little bit. Folks, the issue is so much bigger than bathrooms. The bathroom thing is really just a symbol for a larger movement toward acceptance and understanding.
I get that it can be hard to understand the transgender experience, especially if you don’t know anyone who is transgender or gender fluid. But why not try to understand? Books, as I’m sure you expected me to say, are an amazing resource for encouraging understanding. What better way to understand the trans worldview, than by walking in their (literary) shoes? Here are two GREAT reads, aimed at younger readers but very accessible to adults, about being transgender.
George by Alex Gino
When the world looks at George, they see a boy. But in her heart, George knows that she is a girl. She has kept this painful secret for a long time, but when her teacher tells the class that they will be doing a production of Charlotte’s Web, George is determined to play Charlotte. Her teacher tells her she cannot try out for the part, because she is a boy. George and her best friend Kelly, hatch a plan to show the class who George really is.
A very sweet, honest look into the mind and heart of a transgender kid. An ideal introduction to a different life experience for elementary-aged kids and grown ups alike.
If I was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Fleeing a violent attack in her hometown, Amanda has come to live with her previously estranged father. With the fresh start, she quickly makes friends and attracts the attention of a few boys, one of whom she immediately falls for. But Amanda has a secret and she is terrified of the violence and hatred that might happen if it comes out: At her old school, Amanda was Andrew.
This is such a beautifully written, suspenseful love story. I really, really loved it. Highly recommended.
Prescription: These two books are essential reads for anyone struggling to understand what the “big deal” is with transgender bathroom rights. Or for anyone curious about what life is like for a transgender person, particularly a child or young adult.