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Children And Gender Identity: How Can Parents And Teachers Support Gender Nonconforming Adolescents?

Do not rush to label your gender nonconforming child, says Madhav Prakash, student and a member of LGBTQIA+ community

हिन्दी में पढ़े
Children And Gender Identity: How Can Parents And Teachers Support Gender Nonconforming Adolescents?
Highlights
  • Talk to you child about gender identity and expression: Expert
  • Don’t try to punish or shame the child for being different: Expert
  • Connect with other families who have gender-diverse child: Madhav, queer,17

New Delhi: When a person is born, the doctor assigns sex to them as per their physical biology. A person’s gender identity, however, is their sense of who they are – male, female, both or neither. Having a particular sex assigned at birth does not mean a person has any specific gender identity or sexual orientation. Early childhood and adolescence are the times during which there is significant physical, mental and emotional growth and it is mostly during this time that children start feeling that their true gender identity is not aligned with their sex assigned at birth, said Charit Jaggi, Founder and Director, We The Young, an online platform for the youth to share stories around LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, asexual and more) issues, mental health, gender inequality, sexual harassment, and more.

Also Read: Adolescent Sexual Health: Parents, Teachers Need To Break The Cycle Of Silence Around Sex And Sexuality, Say Experts

According to Mr Jaggi, adolescents who are gender diverse or gender nonconforming, whose gender identity is not strictly female or male can experience discrimination and bullying which can lead to the feeling of isolation and loneliness.

While sharing his experience with NDTV, Madhav Prakash, a 17-year-old student of Class 12 from Pune and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community said,

Being a queer teenager, I feel that there is a need to talk about gender identities and gender equality because there is such a disconnect between the echo-chamber we live in on internet versus the real life. A big struggle for me growing up was seeing people who struggled with their gender and sexual orientation in pop culture, in TV shows and watch them being accepted by their American families, but when I brought all that into my own context, it didn’t match. Even though cultures across the world are moving towards more acceptance and more tolerance, a lot of the world is still lagging behind. That IS if why I think that in the context of India, it is fundamental to talk about gender identities. We like it or not, gender is at the centre of the society. It is a social construct that dictates how we are divided up in schools, whether we are eligible for certain job position among many other things. This is why it is important to be aware of the fact that it is not as black and white and binary as we are taught it to be.

What Does It Mean To Have A Gender Nonconforming Child?

A gender non-conforming child may have the desire to dress up in clothes that does not align with the sex assigned to them at birth. The child may want to play with toys or possess things that are stereotypically associated with another gender. According to Madhav, in many cases, children will express how they feel even though they might not understand how to label themselves at that stage in life.

How Can Parents Support Their Gender Nonconforming Child?

While talking about the role of parents in supporting gender-nonconforming children and making them feel safe, Mr Jaggi said,

Parents are the figures whom the children look up to and respect. They should not try to hush away the conversations around gender. It is ok if you don’t know enough. Learn and relearn with your child, for your child. Help your child connect with correct resources to get information. Let your child feel loved and embraced no matter how they identify themselves as. A child living with support FROM parents and caregivers is likely to be a happier human being.

Also Read: Adolescent Sexual Health: Five Topics You Need To Discuss With Your Pre-Teen Or Teenager

Recalling his experience of coming out to his family, Madhav said,

One thing that I had to come to terms with is that it is not a good idea to come out to everybody. Sure, I can find refuge in some of my family members but there are also others who will not be comfortable with me sharing my stories with them. Coming to terms with that was very difficult but also important. I came out to my brother and my mother and slowly to my larger family about two years ago when I was 15-year-old. And the response was overwhelmingly different – from loving and accepting to just not caring. Thankfully, I did not receive any backlash from anybody in my family I chose to come out to.

There are multiple stakeholders who need to act in order to help gender-nonconforming children facing any kind of challenges including parents, schools and teachers, according to Mr Jaggi. Here are some of his suggestions for parents and schools and how they can build a safer and more gender-inclusive space for gender nonconforming adolescents:

  • Encourage a positive sense of self in your child by speaking positively about their gender identity and showing acceptance and love.
  • Do not try to shame or punish for being who they are thinking that there is something wrong with your parenting or your child’s gender expression is an act of rebellion.
  • Schools must encourage representation of the queer community in the teaching and non-teaching staff.
  • Schools must have counsellors with training in gender, who can help the child facing gender identity confusion.
  • Teachers can play an important role by learning about gender diversity and help build an open, empathetic and accepting atmosphere in the classroom.

While talking about how parents and teachers can support gender diverse students, Madhav suggested:

  • Do not rush to label your child. Take your child’s lead, listen to them and ask questions without judgment.
  • Let your child express their gender in front of other people without belittling them.
  • Practice gender-neutral parenting by accepting that gender is non-binary and let your child have access to gender-diverse activities, resources and people.
  • Connect with other families who have a gender-diverse child or look for an in-person or online support group that can help you with the challenges you are facing being a parent to a gender-nonconforming child.
  • Conduct gender sensitisation training for teachers and students so that bias and bullying can be prevented and children can feel comfortable in their bodies and in the world.
  • Adopt a more gender-inclusive curriculum that represents members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

When I was younger, one of the things that I struggled with was that every time there was a representation of a couple or a marriage in a textbook, say in English class, it was always a man and a woman. Having the representation of gender and sexual minorities in textbooks reaffirms one’s sense of being, said Madhav.

Also Read: Opinion: Moving From “Shhhhhh…” To Comprehensive Sexuality Education

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

24,24,98,327Cases
20,40,54,102Active
3,35,14,449Recovered
49,29,776Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 24,24,98,327 and 49,29,776 have died; 20,40,54,102 are active cases and 3,35,14,449 have recovered as on October 22, 2021 at 5:24 am.

India

3,41,43,236 15,786Cases
1,75,7453,086Active
3,35,14,449 18,641Recovered
4,53,042 231Deaths
In India, there are 3,41,43,236 confirmed cases including 4,53,042 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,75,745 and 3,35,14,449 have recovered as on October 22, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,98,218 1,573

27,899 1,434

64,30,394 2,968

1,39,925 39

Kerala

48,88,523 8,733

82,093 1,240

47,79,228 9,855

27,202 118

Karnataka

29,84,849 365

9,017 86

29,37,848 443

37,984 8

Tamil Nadu

26,91,797 1,164

13,790 268

26,42,039 1,412

35,968 20

Andhra Pradesh

20,62,303 493

5,500 66

20,42,476 552

14,327 7

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,068 10

107 5

16,87,062 14

22,899 1

West Bengal

15,83,646 833

7,535 44

15,57,090 775

19,021 14

Delhi

14,39,488 22

311 1

14,14,087 21

25,090

Odisha

10,37,056 524

4,336 51

10,24,422 573

8,298 2

Chhattisgarh

10,05,773 38

206 21

9,91,995 16

13,572 1

Rajasthan

9,54,395 2

36 2

9,45,405 4

8,954

Gujarat

8,26,353 13

156 20

8,16,110 33

10,087

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,721 12

88 6

7,82,110 6

10,523

Haryana

7,71,125 9

131 2

7,60,945 11

10,049

Bihar

7,26,042 6

30 0

7,16,351 6

9,661

Telangana

6,69,739 183

3,967 1

6,61,829 183

3,943 1

Assam

6,07,811 384

3,762 152

5,98,087 228

5,962 4

Punjab

6,02,135 22

226 6

5,85,358 27

16,551 1

Jharkhand

3,48,526 40

166 24

3,43,225 16

5,135

Uttarakhand

3,43,787 14

176 0

3,36,213 14

7,398

Jammu And Kashmir

3,31,386 87

814 14

3,26,143 73

4,429

Himachal Pradesh

2,22,138 202

1,452 58

2,16,955 140

3,731 4

Goa

1,77,765 59

618 21

1,73,790 35

3,357 3

Puducherry

1,27,564 43

454 7

1,25,258 50

1,852

Manipur

1,23,051 81

1,346 14

1,19,800 94

1,905 1

Mizoram

1,15,944 737

10,034 229

1,05,510 962

400 4

Tripura

84,369 18

105 10

83,448 8

816

Meghalaya

83,210 52

735 26

81,034 76

1,441 2

Chandigarh

65,315 3

26 2

64,469 1

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,065 22

140 2

54,645 20

280

Sikkim

31,819 19

185 10

31,241 9

393

Nagaland

31,670 11

250 5

30,743 15

677 1

Ladakh

20,896 10

43 9

20,645 1

208

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,678 2

4 2

10,670

4

Lakshadweep

10,365

0 0

10,314

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,646

7 0

7,510

129

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