Back to school can be a very stressful time for families. This is only magnified with a newly transitioning transgender child who is uncertain how they will be treated and accepted at school. Here are some things you can do now to make this transition easier.
1. Ensure the school has the correct name and pronouns.
You can start with your school administrator or counselor. Let them know your child has a name change and pronouns and ask how they plan to proceed. Some schools have a system in place for changing class rolls, records, etc ahead of time and some do not.
For us, our first year there was not a formal system and we were able to craft an email to my son’s teachers with the help of the principal. We let them know there was a child on their roll with the name XXXX that would be going by a different name and pronouns, provided them with contact information for who to ask if they had questions as well as some basic information from the Trevor Project on the importance of using the correct name and pronouns.
This year our school system has a formal system in place which allows us to change the records without a legal name change. Every system will be different but a simple email or phone call will get the process started.
2. Ask about bathrooms and locker rooms.
Again, your school may have a system in place. But if not, this is a conversation that needs to be had. Ask your child where they would be most comfortable and follow their lead. Ask the school how they can support your child in making this happen.
3. Identify your child’s support system.
This may be their counselor, a favorite teacher, administration, school nurse, etc. Ask them to serve as a resource for your child during this time.
4. Discuss confidentiality.
Be clear on who is to know about your child’s gender, name, pronouns and what information they would like shared and with whom. Also be clear on how they would like this information to be shared. Let them voice their concerns and address them.
5. Allow your child to be the head of the team
Whatever plan you develop, make sure your child is in the lead role. Let them know you want to hear their thoughts, opinions, and needs and are going to respect them. Do not overstep their boundaries and allow them to change their mind as they need. The goal is to support their education in the best way possible.
Need more support developing a plan? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.