, an early literacy librarian, is here to share resources for talking to children about gender identity.
Little kids are like scientists—observing and learning everything about the world around them and then asking questions (lots and lots of questions) about what they learn. Sometimes it’s hard for parents to figure out how to respond to those questions or observations, including questions about gender, gender identity and gender expression.
You may think your child isn’t ready to learn about gender, but according to the Mayo Clinic, “most children typically develop the ability to recognize and label stereotypical gender groups, such as girl, woman and feminine, and boy, man and masculine, between ages 18 and 24 months [full article linked below].” They are exposed to subtle messages from an early age and may ask or say things like:
“Is that person a boy or a girl?”
“Pink is for girls, not boys.”
“Boys can’t be ballerinas.”
Here are some resources to help you navigate these questions when they come up:
- Here’s a great introduction from The Mayo Cline, opens a new window about supporting a gender non-conforming or transgender child (and how to understand what they’re experiencing).
- The organization Gender Spectrum has these great talking points, opens a new window.
The Canadian Pediatric Society has this handy guide, opens a new window that includes definitions.
- Their American counterpart, the American Academy of Pediatrics, explains gender identity development in children.
- Scholastic offers this information about the developmental stages of understanding gender, opens a new window, and how parents and caregivers can respond.
- Parents magazine has this article, written by a non-binary person, about how to address gender questions, opens a new window like “are they a boy or a girl?”
For more information on talking about issues with your children, check out our post, "When Kids Ask about LGBTQ+ Issues, opens a new window."
Picture Books for Further Reading
Want to explore this more with your children? Try one (or more!) of these great picture books.
A list of picture books about children discovering who they are. Try these books with children who are exploring gender and for children who have questions about their friends and family.
Take pride in who you are!