Early Education

There was an article in the Metro yesterday; ‘The Battle for Change’.  It was about transgender hate crime in Ecuador.  The interviewee, Diane Rodriguez, a male to female transsexual, has set up an organisation to help transgender people.

She concludes transphobia is a particular problem in Latin America because of religion and ‘machismo’.  She goes on to describe that children in Ecuador are raised being taught prejudice attitudes.   She feels the solution is to talk to children about these issues at a young age to educate them.

This might be a statement of the bleeding obvious but it is also certainly not limited to Ecuador.  Equally it is not limited to transgender issues.  It is easy as adults to get caught up in the detail of what is important to us, and forget to look at the bigger picture.  We over complicate things, as I don’t think it is about teaching children transgender issues per say, but that it’s ok to be different, to celebrate difference even.  It’s about letting them explore who they are, uninhibited by our own learned behaviours and values.

I will give you two examples.  I have a great deal of respect for a friend who gives her two daughters (under 7), the gift of choice.  Within reasonable /safety limits of course.   She engages with them, giving them options to choose from.  So for example she will tell them what the options are for dinner, and ask them to choose.  She lets them choose what they want to wear.  If they are going shopping to the super market and they come tumbling down the stairs ready to go out in Disney princess dresses, she will casually pick up the car keys with a cheery; ‘lets go’.  She would not make an issue of whether or not this is appropriate clothes for the occasion.  Essentially she recognises the importance of them being able to express themselves, particularly at a young age, while they are developing their personalities.

In contrast I was at work recently listening to a conversation between a group of colleagues talking about their children.  One woman said that while one of her daughters is a very girly girl, and always wants to wear pretty dresses, for the other daughter it must be trousers.  She described a similar situation to above; the obligatory shopping trip.  But in this example when her daughter emerged from her bedroom in a party dress, she told her; ‘you are not wear that’.  She forced her to change, managing tantrums, tears and all. – Why cause the distress?  What is the harm?   How many people in the supermarket are really going to care about a little girl in a party dress?

We have become so obsessed in the tiny insignificant things, that we have lost sight of what is important, which is letting our children discover who they are without adult’s fears standing in their way.


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