When someone is pregnant, it’s a huge decision of whether to learn the sex of the baby. There are gender reveal parties. Parents think about what color to paint their child’s room or crib. Before a child is even born, so much of who they are and who will they be is decided for them.
Yet, gender is not always as easily set. Many families may find that their children don’t always identify with the sex they were assigned to at birth. And many families are learning that the binary (girl/boy) way we learned about gender is limited. In their book, Beyond the Gender Binary, author and advocate Alok Vaid Menon states, “Gender is a story, not a word.” They go on, “Depending on whether we call them a boy or a girl we assign them each a narrative — we tell some children that they are strong, and we tell others that they are weak.”
June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) Pride Month and it is a good time to talk about the experience of non-binary and gender-expansive children and the relationships they have with their parents.
It’s also a good time for JF&CS to launch its new process educational group for the parents of genderfluid, nonbinary and gender-questioning children.
Support for parents so they can support their child
JF&CS has provided support for LGBTQ+ children and adults for many years. Recently though, a Facebook post in a Jewish Moms’ group asked for help for the parents of non-conforming children as well. Through this grass roots call for support came the seeds of what is now the Process Educational Group run by JF&CS therapist Jaime Stepansky in collaboration with SOJOURN (Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender & Sexual Diversity) Executive Director, Rebecca Staple-Wax.
A Process Education Group is what Jaime calls, “similar to a support group. But with a support group you can drop in and out and is all about emotional support. In this group, parents can process through their feelings so they can become an advocate for their child.” The group also has an educational component too, empowering parents with the tools they need to be a more understanding parent and better advocate/ally in the community.
Educating parents to become allies
There is a change in perspective when it comes to understanding and supporting a non-binary child. Parents must deal with the loss of what they had perceived as their child’s future. They also need to be educated on the language and tools they’ll need to help their child.
It’s helpful for parents to understand topics such as:
- Gender is more complicated than what we learned growing up
- Listening to their children about their gender
- Understanding the power of pronouns
- Terms used in the LGBTQ+ community
- Language that can be unintentionally hurtful
- Conversations to have with their child
- Conversations to have with family, teachers and others about their child
- How to deal with safety concerns
- What is privacy and what is secrecy
- Getting comfortable being uncomfortable
If you’re interested in this group
Parents that are interested in joining the group can call JF&CS at 770-673-9300 or email Jaime Stepansky at email@example.com.
This post has been contributed by a third party. The opinions, facts and any media content are presented solely by the author, and Atlanta Jewish Connector assumes no responsibility for them. Want to add your voice to the conversation? Publish your own post here.