By Lindz Amer
Things are rough for queer and trans kids right now. And that is an understatement. There’s no sugarcoating. Things are rough. Hopefully, you know that already. Hopefully, you are aware of the anti-trans legislation sweeping state legislatures. Hopefully, you see what is happening. But I wonder if you know what to do about it?
It is so easy for us to feel paralyzed. It is so easy for us to feel helpless, like there’s nothing we can do about any of it. You know that you can vote, that you can donate to the ACLU, that you can tweet #ProtectTransKids, but otherwise, it feels outside of your control. But I’m here to tell you that’s not true. You can make a difference in your day-to-day lives, and I’ll tell you how.
Every single one of us (with maybe a few exceptions) were raised in a cisgender- heteronormative world. From our first breath, doctors assign us a gender and societal role just by looking at our genitalia. Our parents assumed we would grow up to be cisgender and heterosexual because that’s the assumption they were also raised with too. Some young people do grow up to be cisgender and straight. That’s great! They got lucky. Everyone else, not so much. It’s a vicious generational cycle that directly contributes to the abysmal mental health, suicide, and houseless rates amongst LGBTQ+ youth.
My parents had no resources that could help them navigate raising a queer trans nonbinary kid like me. The truth is that most of today’s parents still don’t know how to approach gender and sexuality with their young ones, no matter how they identify. My parents were liberal and accepting and raised me in one of the most diverse cities in the world, but it wasn’t enough. I struggled with depression throughout my teen years and it took me until my late twenties to come fully into my gender identity. Having textbook liberal and accepting parents didn’t help, so what’s to be said for all the queer and trans kids who don’t have that at bare minimum? And how can parents and folks with young people in their lives go beyond being “liberal and accepting” to actually help. The solution lies in queer and gender-affirming parenting. Something I’m calling Rainbow Parenting.
Rainbow Parenting is a philosophy. It’s about grappling with your internal biases, actively and purposefully disrupting those cisheteronormative assumptions we project onto young people, and exposing kids to possibility models that acknowledge the full width and breadth of who they could become, including trans and queer possibilities. How are you already pushing gendered norms onto your infant who has no internal sense of their own gender yet? Why don’t you introduce a daily pronoun check in with your toddler so they feel comfortable experimenting with pronouns to see how they feel on any given day? These are questions that can help you shift your perspective and create a queer and gender-affirming environment around the young folks in your life.
I’ve spent the better part of the last decade creating LGBTQ+ and social justice work for kids and families. Much of that work is what I wish I’d had access to when I was a kid, like my beloved indie webseries Queer Kid Stuff (when even has its own It Gets Better EduGuide)! But my debut book—Rainbow Parenting:Your Guide to Raising Queer Kids and Their Allies— is the book I wish my parents had picked up when I was in utero, so they could have helped me navigate my identity in a world that has always been hostile to it.
The bad news is that what I’m asking you to do isn’t always easy. But the good news is that you’re not in it alone! This isn’t just a book for queer and trans parents or for parents of queer and trans kids, this is a book for everyone with littles in their lives, and that’s pretty much everyone! We can create queer and gender-affirming environments for every child in order to support queer and trans kids while nurturing their allies. One book at a time, we can work toward building a world where queer and trans kids can not only survive, but thrive.
Lindz Amer makes queer stuff for kids, families, educators, their loved ones, and allies! They created their beloved LGBTQ+ family webseries Queer Kid Stuff in 2016 which now has 4M lifetime views and counting! They are the author of “Rainbow Parenting: Raising Queer Kids and Their Allies” and host of the Rainbow Parenting podcast. Their debut picture book, “Hooray for She, He, Ze, and They!” is slated for publication with Simon & Schuster in fall 2024. Learn more at lindzamer.com.