In recent years there has been a significant increase in the visibility of gender variant children. In Italy too, several articles have been written to describe the experience of gender variant children and their families.
It is important, however, to consider that these children and sometimes even their family members may be subject to important discrimination, not only because of the lack of information, but also because of inaccurate and superficial information. It is therefore very important that those who decide to write or report of gender variance, do so by taking time to deepen the topic first and try to grasp its complexity.
Moreover, those who choose to write about gender variance must be aware that the information that will be produced, in addition to reaching an interested audience that might not be directly involved in the topic, could also allow some readers to recognize themselves in the experience described: the language chosen by the author, would thus become an important tool, many times the first, through which children and their parents give meaning to their experience. This is certainly a great responsibility that those who decides to take care of the topic have to take into account.
When people talk about gender variant children, they very often use the expression “Born in the wrong body”, as if gender variance could be explained as the simple result of a factory defect. By doing so, the attention of the media concentrates entirely on the incongruity between the body of the child and its perceived identity; it highlights how his/her preferences in terms of games, friendships, clothes correspond to social expectations for the children of the other sex, without articulating any critical talk by challenging these expectations.
This narrative, built on the simple articulation of opposites (male / female, blue / pink, dolls / cars …), is in fact the easiest way for ordinary people to get the point and has the advantage of making the experience of gender variance in childhood more easily understandable and above all acceptable to those who approach the topic for the first time. On the other hand, though, it brings along the great disadvantage of not being able in any way to communicate the complexity of the experience and to give gender variant children the impression that he/she has to change to adapt and correct especially through the use of surgery. Being gender variant as a child does not necessarily mean being a trans adult person. Moreover, even if the child continues to not recognize himself/herself in the gender assigned at birth, this does not necessarily mean he/she will decide to change his/her body.
It would therefore be advisable for anyone who decides to inform about the issue, and wants to do it well, to take into account the great variability of the experiences concerning gender variant people and not to rely only on the extreme depictions that include great suffering on one side and remedies, doctors, surgeries on the other.
To clarify any doubts or to receive more information on how to deal with the topic giving a respectful and inclusive view, please do not hesitate to contact us.