Often, school can be a daunting place for transgender, non-binary, gender-expansive, or genderqueer young people. Navigating a gender transition and informing schools, teachers, and administrators might be an important part of your child’s process. Throughout this page you will find resources to move these important conversations forward and further help you and your child with this process.
The language of this page is directed at parents of transgender young people in K-12 schools, but this can also be helpful for educators, school staff, and trans youth who might want to go about navigating a gender transition at schools on their own. Occasionally, trans youth might not have the support from parents, family, or guardians to live in their truth at home or at school. If you are a supportive adult who has found yourself assisting a young trans person, you can use this page to help you guide them through this process.
It should also be noted that there are many trans youth who have weighed their options and decided not to shift their gender status at school. Trans identities are still valid no matter how far along, if at all, trans people are in their social, legal, or medical transition. A person does not have to go on hormones, have surgery, experience dysphoria, or change their gender expression, name, or pronouns to be trans.
The first important step is to have an open conversation with your child about their wants and needs regarding coming out at school. Is it entirely possible that your child doesn’t want to come out to their teachers or classmates, and in that case, those wishes should be respected. Not all young trans people feel safe or comfortable coming out at school, and many trans youth just don’t want or need to. However, if your child does want to come out at school, here are some tips.
Note: Your child’s desire to shift their gender expression at school stems from a need to be recognized as their authentic and true self. Therefore, the process for helping your child outwardly affirm their gender identity at school should be uniquely tailored to making school a positive and productive place for them. There is no one correct way to go about this process. You will likely have to choose from a list of elements that you and your child feel comfortable changing at school. These options include, but are not limited to:
It is important to take different factors to take into consideration when embarking upon this process.
Resources to help you support your child’s transition at school (h2)
If you are looking for resources to help you talk to schools about your child’s transition, you’re in luck; there is a community of folks out there working on exactly this issue. We’ve compiled some important resources and guides here.
Gender Spectrum created a resource that expands on things to consider when communicating a gender transition with schools, like valuable information about possible roadblocks and important ways to have these conversations.
If you are looking to help your child create a plan to get teachers and school staff on the same page about a gender transition, you should take a look at Gender Spectrum’s Gender Support Plan. Here, you will find a form to help you, your child, and school staff discuss things like name changes, facility use, and safe adults on campus for your child to turn to.
These next two resources are for district level employees and school staff who wish to make their campuses safer for trans and gender non-conforming young people. If you are a parent or caregiver of a trans young person or you are trans yourself, feel free to pass these along to your school staff if you think these resources would be well received and utilized appropriately. First, Gender Spectrum’s Gender Inclusive Schools Framework touches on the various levels that gender is taught in schools and classrooms, and addresses ways that teachers and school staff can help create gender inclusive schools for all students. Second, GLSEN and NCTE partnered to create the Model School District Policy as a guide for how to model a school district that creates a safe space for students who are trans, non-binary, and gender-expansive.