First, don’t harm kids

First, don’t harm kids

I don’t know how I managed to miss this piece the first time it ran but here I am with a vengeance. Tom Blackwell, writing in the notoriously TERFian National Post (I mean, it publishes Barbara Kay, for fuck’s sake), clutched some nasty stinking rotting pearls at the thought that schools and school boards respect the human rights of the children in their care. 

Boards of education, education ministries and even the Public Health Agency of Canada are urging schools to both automatically honour a transitioning student’s request to change their name and pronouns — and to keep that information from parents if requested.

It’s just one way the education system has become intimately involved in the transgender process, which affects an “exponentially” growing number of young Canadians. Schools accept name and pronoun preferences, provide gender-neutral washrooms and teach from a young age about gender identity. In some cases, they can even refer students directly to gender-treatment clinics.

Some parents, and you know which ones, object. Loudly. I’m glad they’re this public with their harmful bigotry. It’ll help us find them when the time comes to lay charges. 

Oh, you bet I’m serious. Schools know who those parents are. There should be a system in place to report them for abuse. Just like there is when school authorities have good reasons to believe a child is being beaten or neglected. 

Children, as they grow into teenagers and young adults, often go through a series of phases on their way to figuring out who they are. Some children are very clear about their identity, whereas others have to experiment with a few iterations. Both are perfectly fine, and so is everything in between. 

We didn’t use to think that way. We used to think children who didn’t conform to the traditional gendered expectations were freaks and deviant. And by golly those freaks and deviant were beaten (psychologically, but often also literally) into the shape they were supposed to conform to. That was my experience growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. I didn’t fit in those gendered boxes. I was forced to fit into them anyway. I’m still learning to heal from those wounds. Being violently invalidated is no joke. It is profoundly harmful.