There are hundreds of species of birds, colors of flowers, kinds of weather, and even shades of green. Nature loves diversity. This creativity, this diversity, provides all of us with countless hours of joy and wonder. When it comes to people, however, diversity is often difficult for our society to embrace.
Raising a child who does not fit neatly within the male and female gender binary can bring many questions and uncertainties. It is a journey where support can lessen challenges while providing clarity and insight.
When children are born, they are assigned a gender identity according to their anatomy. In the vast majority of cases this assignment fits, but for many children it does not. From the moment a child is born, they see the world in pictures and hear the world in tones. They notice how people dress, how they talk, and how they move. As they get older and acquire language, they let you know what they have discovered. They let you know what toys they want to play with, what clothes they want to wear; they let you know who they are. This may not match what parents or society expects. In other words, the original identity assigned at birth may not fit this child.
Whether adolescents have long felt that their gender identity does not fit into our culture’s binary system of male and female, or they only recently have discovered this incongruity, teen years and accompanying puberty are often when people actively engage the topic of gender. At this time in their lives, the struggles to fit in are at odds with their longings to be seen and accepted for who they are. For some, puberty may be incredibly painful, knowing that how their body is developing does not relate to how they feel inside. For others, gender roles are more at issue than their bodies. However, the fear of rejection from family and friends may keep them silent.
This silence may lead to feeling isolated, anxious, and/or depressed. By the time adolescents have struggled to find the courage to tell their parents, they may feel an enormous sense of urgency for change and have difficulty creating room for their parents’ doubts and questions. At LAGC, we partner with teens and their families to create a safe and respectful place for productive conversation and exploration.
WHAT WE OFFER
We at the Los Angeles Gender Center look forward to sharing information with you about gender identity and diverse gender expression. We provide:
- Education and assessment for diverse gender expression in children and adolescents
- A safe and welcoming environment for children and adolescents to discover and develop their authentic selves
- Support and education for parents, siblings, and extended family
- Education and information for schools and the community
- Referrals to supportive healthcare providers
- Referrals for legal counsel if needed
UNDERSTANDING GENDER DEFINITIONS
Gender Identity: A deeply felt sense of gender separate from the body. This feeling of being a girl or a boy, a combination of the two, or neither of the two, may not be in line with gender assigned at birth.
Gender Expression: How children convey to the world their personal sense of masculinity and femininity by choices they make in the clothes they wear, the toys they choose, and activities they enjoy. Society often encourages children to participate in “gender typical” behaviors. Some children are not comfortable with this resolution.
Diverse Gender Expression: Behavior which is perceived by others as being outside cultural gender norms. For example, a young boy may want to have long hair and wear a skirt or a young girl may refuse to wear dresses and want a haircut like daddy’s.
At LAGC we believe a collaborative approach is critical to your child or adolescent’s well-being. As a result, we consult frequently with parents, medical professionals, and connect families with specialized support groups. Also, when needed, we work with your child or adolescent’s school to ensure an environment of safety and support. Organizations we frequently collaborate with are: