Following are some easily digestible resources covering the range of people and families who are going through transition and those who may not conform to gender stereotypes.
For a comprehensive list of literature, online tools, films and documentaries, refer to the fantastic guides:
Our Trans Loved Ones: Questions and Answers for Parents, Families and Friends of People who are Transgender and Gender Expansive and the Guide to Being a Trans Ally (both produced by PFLAG). A good language resource is GLAAD’s Media Reference Guide.
Resources for Partners of Transgender People, (Sally Molay, 'Crossdreamers' website)
Transgender Resources, (Diane Daniel, 'She Was the Man of My Dreams' website)
TransParent, for the parents of trans children
There are several organizations propagating misleading information, phobic ideologies, and pseudo-science. These have been designated as hate groups, and should be avoided. Transgender Trend, the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds or ACP), American Principles Project (APP), American Family Association, One Million Moms, Family Research Council, and the Australian Family Association (AFA), are examples. Be wary of Parents of ROGD Kids.
Any articles or videos associated with Paul McHugh, Michelle Cretella, Felipe E. Vizcarrondo, Quentin Van Meter, John Whitehall or Tony Perkins should be treated with skepticism and are best ignored. Be aware that these organizations may appear prominently in internet searches, and that this does not indicate validity.
There are several experts and organizations who provide clear, informed and impartial advice and guidance for trans issues. These experts work consistently with trans people and trans children, are educated and rely upon peer-reviewed science, not personal opinion or phobic dogma.
Johanna Olson MD is the Medical Director, Center for Transyouth Health and Development, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. She provides a series of straightforward and clear videos offering tips and advice relating to trans issues and treatment.
Michelle Telfer is the director of the Gender Service at the Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne and has been a leading advocate for changes and improved access to legal and medical services for trans and gender diverse children, as well as helping establish Trans20, a 20 year longitudinal study of the mental and physical health of trans patients.
Jean Malpas is the director of the Gender & Family Project as part of the Ackerman Institute for the Family.
The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning) young people.
Gender Spectrum helps to create gender sensitive and inclusive environments for children, teens and their parents and families. This organization has complied an excellent list of resources for medical/health, legal, faith and education professionals.
The following list includes a number of movies, videos, documentaries, talks and books for children.
There has been great change in the way trans people have been depicted in fictional works. Once either victims who met with a grisly end, or as predators or psychopathic killers, the depiction of trans people has become more nuanced and based upon reality. Trans actors are now more frequently cast in lead roles.
Her Story. This drama concentrates on two trans women, played by trans women. It’s a very clear snapshot of many of the everyday issues that trans women face in contemporary society. Series one has six episodes, each around fifteen minutes long.
Transparent. Comedy-drama produced for Amazon, following the coming out of retired college professor Maura Pfefferman to her family. It was written by Jill Soloway, who had some experience after their own father realised they were transgender and came out in 2011. Soloway realised that they, too, were happier in a space that was non-gender-conforming and they came out as gender queer at age fifty.
Headspace. Written by and starring Jake Graf (a trans man), and other trans men and women, this four-minute film expresses some of the emotions and issues faced by trans people on a daily basis. Those portrayed clearly indicate how ‘invisible’ trans people can be until faced with some simple dilemma that may ‘out’ them.
First Day. Made by Australia's ABC, this 17 minute film won a prestigious international Prix Jeunesse award for outstanding television for children. It tells the story of Hannah, as she attends her first day of high school, the day made more significant as it is her first day attending school as a girl (on ABC iView - may not play outside Australia).
A Kid Like Jake. Made by trans director Silas Howard, this 2018 movie is based upon a stage play and concentrates upon the parents of a 'gender expansive' child, and the struggles they have with labelling (or not labelling) their son Jake and coming to terms with his non-conformity.
Normal. I'm really looking forward to seeing this movie as it has some great reviews. Released in 2003, the story follows a mature couple married for 25 years, as husband Roy (Tom Wilkinson) reveals to his pastor, family and wife Irma (Jessica Lange), that he has gender dysphoria and wishes to live life as a woman.
Pose. This television drama series is set in New York City's underground ballroom culture scene. Premiering in June 2018, the first season is set in the 1980s. With a third season announced, the series has been critically acclaimed and is noted for 'including the largest recurring cast of LGBTQ actors ever for a scripted series'.
Girl. An award winning 2018 Belgian film about a trans girl pursuing a career in ballet. The film has stirred some controversy for the manner in which it depicts dysphoria and self-harm. The film was inspired by the real life Belgian trans female dancer Nora Monsecour. Currently available on Netflix.
Growing up Trans. A 2015 Frontline documentary made for PBS television, portraying several families with young children with gender dysphoria.
Transgender Rights: Last Week Tonight. A contemporary report from a weekly news program, so it has dated, but it shows some good examples of what questions not to ask, and gives a very quick rundown of transgender facts. This appeared on HBO … so, of course, there’s a language warning.
Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric. A two-hour documentary first aired on the National Geographic Channel in February 2017, it looks at the changing landscape of gender identity. The show’s site includes featured videos, links to related articles from the National Geographic magazine, and links to associated information.
Currently available on Netflix.
Trans Youth: VICE on HBO. This show is great insight into the lives of parents of trans children, and the absolute certainty trans children have with their gender identity. I found the experiences of mother Kimberly Shappley to be particularly painful as the family became socially ostracised because her daughter was simply being herself.
How to be a girl. Made by ‘gendermom’ Marlo Mack, this beautiful animation describes how Marlo’s son convinced her that something terrible had happened inside the womb and he was really supposed to come out as a girl. Simple language, using her daughter’s words, this is heartfelt, tinged with melancholy and hope.
Insight: Love Transformed. Produced by Australia’s SBS network, this is a forum discussion with a number of trans people and their family members. The discussion places an emphasis upon the wide range of coping methods and mechanisms of those people affected by a family member who has gone through a gender transition.
Transgender Teen Shares Powerful Message. A short presentation by young trans girl, Corey House, delivering a message on handwritten cards, and a gorgeous smile ... from a bathroom facility. It is immediately apparent how ridiculous it would be for Corey to use a male bathroom. This is an inspiring message for young trans people. (Corey’s mother has since come out as FTM).
Transgender Kids (LGBT Documentary) —Real Stories. This documentary provides an insight into several young children going through a social transition, and facing the prospect of taking puberty blockers as adolescence looms.
Australian Story: Call Me Cate. The story of Cate McGregor, who transitioned during her fifties. She played a prominent role as an officer in the Royal Australian Air Force and the Australian Army and as a political strategist on both sides of politics. She is the most high-profile individual in Australia to come out as transgender.
Australian Story: About a Girl. The story of Georgie Stone, a sixteen-year-old trans girl and her twin brother. Interviews with her parents give an insight into the troubles experienced due to her father’s initial non-acceptance, bullying, the relief in receiving a diagnosis, and the difficulties they faced due to legal requirements at the time.
Being Me. A good companion to the Australian Story: About a Girl. It explores the legal implications that once created huge impediments for children going through a gender transition in Australia (prior to significant legal changes in late 2017). The story concentrates upon a very brave ten-year-old, Isabelle, as she considers medical intervention for her transition. This story makes it very apparent how important family and community support is to someone contemplating a transition.
Red without Blue. This short film, which won awards at the Sundance Film Festival, follows the lives of identical twins, Mark and Alex/Clair Farley, over a four-year period. The film looks back on key moments of the siblings’ lives and provides a very candid view of difficulties and discrimination faced by Clair (a trans woman) and Mark (a gay man), and their tenuous relationship with their mother, until she becomes their greatest advocate.
Home (cover)—Charlie Peck (a tribute to the transgender community). An interesting project undertaken by Charlie Peck, who sings a duet with himself, pre- and post-transition, with both a female register and a male register. It is a lovely song, and a unique exercise.
From This Day Forward. Made by director Sharon Shattuck and discussing her father’s transition to Tricia, and the difficulties faced by her when she had to deal with the news while in middle school, and the reaction of her mother, Marcia.
The Ties that Bind: A Tale of Family Ties that Connect, Constrain and Confound. Another story from a film-maker with a transitioning family member. Diana Newton tells the story of her trans sister, Christine, looking at the responses of her family members as an insight into her ‘family's imperfections, surprising strengths, and the complexities of love that are tested’.
They Saw Dad. She Was Mom. A short, touching, animated first-hand account from a trans woman, illustrating her role and identity as a parent, as her title shifts from 'Dad' to 'Mom'.
Gavin Grimm Vs. An 18 minute documentary which follows the story of young trans man Gavin Grimm as a Virginian school board denies his use of the boys bathroom at his high school, and then as Grimm's action against the county school board's denial is taken up by the Supreme Court. This would have been the Court's first transgender civil rights case. After the Trump administration rescinded anti-discrimination guidance, the Supreme Court sent the case back down to lower courts. (In May 2018, the case was revived when a federal court judge refused the school board's request to dismiss Grimm's lawsuit. In September 2019, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted Gavin's motion for summary judgement, ruling that the school violated Gavin's rights under Title IX and the 14th Amendment.)
In My Shoes. A short film focussing on children in families with LGBTQ parents. Made in 2011, this is a little dated as it was made prior to legalization of same-sex marriage.
Home Delivery - Catherine McGregor. (Series 6, episode 10). Host Julia Zemiro meets with Catherine McGregor (see Australian Story: Call me Cate - above), visiting Cate's childhood home and school in Toowoomba. Cate describes living with gender dysphoria.
My Trans Life. This is a Face Book page providing vignette films of the lives of various transpeople.
Becoming Me. This documentary shares the stories of eight families with transgender and gender non-conforming children ranging in ages from 5 to 25.
CBS's Sunday Morning program aired a 2014 episode on three trans children, Born this way: Stories of young transgender children, and a 2019 follow-up as these children deal with the peer pressures of adolescence Transgender youth: Navigating gender identity in adolescence.
Becoming Us. This documentary series revolves around fifteen-year-old Ben Lehwald, whose parents have divorced, as he finds out that his father is beginning to transition to Carly. I don’t know if it was by design or purely coincidental, but Ben’s girlfriend also has a father who is transitioning. The series was originally shown on ABC Family.
I am Jazz: A family in Transition. The story of Jazz Jennings, a young trans girl, and her family as Jazz goes through her transition. The series provides a good overview of some of the social issues faced by Jazz and her parents and addresses some of the emotional effects of transition. The story is told in three parts (each about fifteen minutes in length).
What Would You Do: Sales clerk refuses to sell clothes to transgender woman. This was an interesting exercise undertaken by a hidden-camera reality TV show. It portrayed a trans woman shopping for clothes and being humiliated by a sales assistant. However, the reactions of other shoppers was a really wonderful example of the empathy of strangers.
Lost in Transition. A new series airing on the TLC network. This series follows the lives of four couples during the transition of the 'husband' into a life of living as a full time woman.
There are a range of talks that provide many insights into transgender lives and the transitioning process. A small sample of these include:
Norman Spack: How I help transgender teens become who they want to be.
Paediatric endocrinologist Norman Spack talks about the education and awareness he received in transgender issues from his adult trans patients. He explains how his enlightenment helped inform his treatment of adolescents.
Jean Malpas: The Gift of Gender Authenticity.
A family therapist who works with transgender children, Jean talks about the need for awareness, connection and and community to provide acceptance and the ultimate protection of trans children.
My daughter, my wife, our robot, and the quest for immortality
Martine Rothblatt, the founder of Sirius XM satellite radio talks about an astonishing career and how her family members became inspiration for the development of life saving drugs, transplantable organs, preserving consciousness, etc. She touches very briefly on her transition.
Geena Rocero: Why I must come out.
Fashion model Geena Rocero reveals her history, from being born a boy through to being able to live authentically as her gender identity.
Ivan Coyote: Why we need gender-neutral bathrooms.
Trans man Ivan talks on the social repercussions of non-gender-conforming people using public facilities. He advocates for the availability of gender-neutral bathrooms and changing rooms for anyone with body issues, whether they be trans, disability, social or psychologically related.
Ashley Clift-Jennings: Have you met your soulmate?
Trans partner Ashley talks about meeting and marrying her soulmate, her perfect partner, living her won-the-lottery life ... then finding her husband wanted to be a woman. Ashley talks about dealing with a changed relationship and coming to terms with the ‘internalised transphobia’ of which she had not consciously been aware.
Jackson Bird: How to talk (and listen) to transgender people.
Presented by Jack, a trans man as a ‘starter pack of trans knowledge’. This is a very concise, clear, frank and insightful presentation that encapsulates many of the beliefs, questions, preconceptions, misunderstandings, and general awkwardness surrounding trans people in society. An absolute must-watch. Presented June 2017.
Lee Mokobe: A powerful poem about what it feels like to be transgender.
Presented by South African slam poet Lee, this is a powerful and poetic exploration of his childhood and the pain he experienced prior to and during transition: ‘I was the mystery of an anatomy, a question asked but not answered.’
OTHER FILMS AND DOCUMENTARIES:
Nanette. Available on Netflix, this is a performance by Australian comic Hannah Gadsby. Gadsby does not specifically reference trans people, but does speak about issues revolving around gender and sexuality. At once funny, tragic, and full of tension, this extremely powerful and emotional performance is an absolute must-watch.
Be Like Others (Transsexual in Iran). A 2008 documentary film with an Iranian perspective.
Trinidad. Documentary about the small town in Colorado that was renowned for some time as being the sex-change capital of the world.
It’s Not about the Sex. I’m really looking forward to this documentary made by Australian actor and personality Andrew Guy. The film chronicles his transition over a period of four years. Currently in post-production.
To provide a holistic view, these videos of people who have de-transitioned (i.e. transitioning to the other gender, then realising it was not what they wanted, and reverting to their original gender) have been included. These videos avoid the dogma of a particular point of view and provide a valuable insight into how important it is to have maturity, a solid sense of self, and a team of practitioners who can treat each patient individually without any preconceived notions or plans.
Why I Speak Out/Overcoming Shame. This video was made by Crash Chaoscats, an FTM, who had found she couldn’t live as a butch lesbian due to an inherent lesbophobia and an internalised misogyny. She felt the only way to reconcile her self-hatred, rejection and repression was by becoming a man. Once she had transitioned, she had regrets, and decided to de-transition. Crash has done a lot of self-reflection and presents her story to provide support to other de-transitioned FTMs, while not maligning other trans people in the process.
WHY I Transitioned/De-transitioned!! This video was made by Frankological, an MTF, who was in the process of transitioning. He had started to take hormones but decided that he didn’t want to have to take them for the rest of his life, or to go through with multiple surgeries. He then stopped the transition process and accepted living in his original gender/somewhere in between.
Trans activist Brynn Tannehill has written Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Trans (But Were Afraid to Ask). Released in late 2018, this book informs readers about all aspects of transgender life, refutes myths and identifies bias in science and statistics.
Seeing Gender: An Illustrated Guide to Identity and Expression written and illustrated by Iris Gottlieb, was released in October 2019.
Trans youth activist couple Fox and Owl Fisher have written the Trans Teen Survival Guide to provide practical advice and guidance to navigating transition as a teen.
Parents of Gender Diverse Children has a comprehensive reading list for parents of gender diverse children including reference books, personal accounts, and stories for young adults and children. TransParent has compiled lists of blogs, support groups, videos and books (look under the Resources tab).
Written by developmental and clinical psychologist Diane Ehrensaft, (who is also the parent of a gender diverse child), The Gender Creative Child: Pathways for Nurturing and Supporting Children Who Live Outside Gender Boxes provides a comprehensive resource for parents and professionals.
Books for Children:
Although I have not read all of these books, I have included the following collection as a starting point for talking to children about transition - whether understanding gender or gender non-conformity in a broader sense, preparing for the transition of a parent, friend, relative, or classmate - or simply for growing a greater empathy and level of acceptance amongst children.
I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel (4 to 8yo)
This book tells the story of Jazz Jennings and her real life experiences.
Who Are You?: The Kid's Guide to Gender Identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee (5+)
This illustrated book provides the basis for beginning to understand gender: our bodies, our expression and our identity.
Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall (4 to 8yo)
Written for 4 to 8 year-old children, this illustrated book about a blue crayon with a label that reads 'RED', carries the larger message about having the courage to be true to your inner self. The story contains no reference to gender identity, dysphoria or transition, yet has been criticized for pushing both pro-trans and anti-trans 'agendas'.
Introducing Teddy: A gentle story about gender and friendship by Jess Walton (3 to 6yo)
A book written for 3 to 6 year-olds, using teddy bears as a means to explain gender identity and transition.
The Gender Fairy by Jo Hirst (4yo +)
Written by the mother of a trans child and designed to be read aloud. It includes notes for parents and teachers to aid discussion and learning.
A story for 4 to 8 year-olds that challenges gender stereotypes. The book helps assist parents and teachers in giving children the space to explore the full spectrum of gender diversity.
A story for 4 to 8 year-olds about Kyle, who is being bullied at school and is scared to share feelings about being 'different' and identifying more as girl than a boy with his parents.
This story was inspired by the author's own child, and her initial struggles to understand transition. The story is about Dyson, who loves pink, wears dresses, and a tiara.
This story has been written for 4 to 8 year-olds and is about Jacob, who is bullied after he chooses to wear a dress to school. The book prompts discussions of gender, identity, and self-confidence.
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino (4 to 7yo)
Written for 4 to 7 year-olds with a subtle emphasis on growing empathy and acceptance, this story is about Morris, his love of wearing a tangerine dress from the classroom dress up box, and his imagination.
Annie's Plaid Shirt by Stacy B. Davids (3 to 8yo)
Written by a school psychologist, this story focuses on a young girl who is carefree and self-confident... until her mother wants her to conform to gender expectations to attend a family wedding.
Not Every Princess by Jeffrey and Lisa Bone (4 to 8yo)
Written by a pair of psychologists, this story helps to challenge gender roles and the limitations that societal expectations can impose.
Who Are You?: The Kid's Guide to Gender Identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee (5 to 8yo)
A mother, school teacher and member of the Gender Spectrum community wrote this book. It is a primer for discussions into sex, gender, and identity. A 'Note for the Grown Ups' provides instruction on how to use the book and how to discuss with children.
This book is about a group of first-graders who come from family structures with two parents but without a 'father figure'. This is a great resource for families dealing with school-based annual reminders of creating cards for Father's Day, or events such as 'Donuts with Dads' or 'Daddy-Daughter Dances'.
These two books have very mixed reviews. Each story describes how a transitioning parent explains the changes that are occurring to their child. A criticism of the books is that they presume surgery is a necessary part of transition.
Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl? by Sarah Savage and Fox Fisher (3yo +)
This story helps to open a discussion with children about gender diversity and gender stereotypes.
Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima (3yo +)
The story of a unicorn's discovery and acceptance of self following their birth within a family of narwhals.
From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea by Kai Cheng Thom (3 to 8yo)
Recommended for its beautiful illustrations, this story is about gender variant child Miu Lan, who explores transformation in a variety of ways. The story speaks about acceptance and parental love.
Rachel’s Christmas Boat by Sophie Labelle (assumed 3yo +)
Written by the author behind Assigned Male Comics. This story follows Lulu, after she finds out that her dad is transitioning and is now to be known as Rachel, and what Lulu does to ensure that Santa is not confused.
Phoenix Goes to School: A Story to Support Transgender and Gender Diverse Children by Michelle Finch & Phoenix Finch (3yo +)
An empowering book to help children engage with gender identity in a fun, uplifting way. It supports trans children who are worried about being bullied or misunderstood.
I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love by Nancy Tillman (4 to 8yo)
This author is well-known for her beautiful layered illustrations. This story in verse, tells of a mother's love, despite her child's guise.
I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont (3yo +)
Written in rhyme, for preschool age children, this board book deals with self esteem and acceptance of self.
Also see Amber Leventry's 20 LGBTQ book recommendations by grade level - including middle and high school reading.
References for Professionals:
Ensuring Comprehensive Care and Support for Transgender and Gender-Diverse Children and Adolescents A Policy Statement released by the American Academy of Pediatrics in September 2018.
Implementing Curricular and Institutional Climate Changes to Improve Health Care for Individuals Who Are LGBT, Gender Nonconforming, or Born with DSD A Resource for Medical Educators Released in November 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges, this resource has been written specifically for training physicians and medical and health care providers.
The YouTube video Transgender People Share Stories About Healthcare, provides a good primer for healthcare professionals, highlighting the need for providers to have basic gender education.
US Educators can access guidance about ensuring safe and affirming schools for K-12 LGBTQ students, at GLSEN. Australian educators were able to access resources created by the Safe Schools Coalition before the program was terminated by the current government. Some of the resources are still available, but are hidden away in the Student Wellbeing Hub. In the UK, access GIDS (Gender Identity Development Service).
Grey and white matter volumes either in treatment-naïve or hormone-treated transgender women: a voxel-based morphometry study. This study, undertaken at the University of São Paulo’s Medical School, examined the brains of cis and trans people using MRI. The researchers found that a region of the brain known as the insula varied in volume dependent upon whether the subject was trans or cis, suggesting that differences began occurring during gestation. Published in Scientific Reports on January 15, 2018.
A genetic link between gender dysphoria and sex hormone signalling. This study, researched a likely genetic component to gender dysphoria. The study was published in the The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism on September 21, 2018.
What does the scholarly research say about the effect of gender transition on transgender well-being? Undertaken by the What We Know project as part of Cornell University, this study involved a literature review of 73 scholarly peer-reviewed studies (published in English between 1991 and June 2017). Of these, 56 studies concentrated on primary research on the topic of the effect of gender transition on transgender well-being. Links are provided to all reviewed papers.
Alternative (backdoor) androgen production and masculinization in the human fetus. This peer-reviewed research paper looks at the role of androgens in the masculinization of a fetus, noting that testosterone sources may not be restricted to the testes. The findings may aid research to identify the causes for an increase in the rate of penis development disorders. Published February 14, 2019.