Thursday, August 7, 2008

Author reads new book on trans kids on Lower East Side

Transgender and gender variant youth continue to gain more visibility in the media as a result of the high profile murder of Lawrence King inside his Oxnard, Calif., middle school and other crimes that have taken place across the country. This trend is not to say there are those who have a more positive experience or transition, but these young people continue to face innumerable problems as my article in EDGE New York about author Stephanie Brill's book "The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals" details.

There remains an extremely significant amount of ignorance and misunderstanding surrounding the transgender and gender variant experience. Brill told me one of the main reasons she and her colleague, Rachel Pepper, decided to write the book is because of the apparent lack of information available to parents and other family members of these children. She further stressed society needs to make some fundamental changes to accept these children as who they are. "The Transgender Child" certainly provides an opportunity to begin the process to achieve these goals.

With transgender and gender variant children gaining more visibility through the national media, Stephanie Brill and Rachel Pepper decided the time was right to detail the struggles with which these young people and their families struggle.

"The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals" examines a variety of topics that include how to identify a trans child, parental acceptance, response from teachers and classmates, medical and even legal issues. Brill held a reading at Bluestocking Books on the Lower East Side on Sunday, Aug. 3, in addition to singings and other events across the city to promote the book. She told EDGE in a recent telephone interview her work with trans and gender varient children through Gender Spectrum and other organizations motivated her to write "The Transgender Child."

"Through that work, I realized parents were struggling in isolation without access to information to help their children," Brill said.

She further described "The Transgender Child" as the first-of-its-kind book to offer resources and other information for the thousands of families she said are raising trans or gender-variant children. Cleis Press released it on June 1, but Brill reaffirmed her belief the increased publicity surrounding these issues only solidified her desire to write about them.

"It’s a great combination," she said.

Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey and Tyra Banks are among those who have either profiled trans or gender variant youth or examined the variety of issues they face on their programs over the past year. Brill contends Lawrence King’s murder inside an Oxnard, Calif., middle school in February and other cases, such as the death of Angie Zapata inside her Greeley, Colo., apartment on July 17, highlight the need for "greater cultural understanding" of trans or gender variant youth.

"We [societal] need to make some fundamental changes in allowing all members of society to be safe in who they are," Brill said.

Brill further stressed the perspective she brings into the book comes from love and acceptance-or a love-based philosophy.

"I really want everybody to be accepted for who they are and not have to hide or be afraid of being a target or being a target just because of who they are," she said. "We are a nation devoted to individuality and personal expression on many levels, and this is another level that needs to be accepted for children. This is just part of the normal expression of humanity."

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