Kids who struggle with gender identity will soon have a new resource
Children who grapple with their gender identity often start asking questions in their toddler years.
They may demand parents call them "her" instead of "him," or insist they’re a boy after they were assigned female gender at birth.
These declarations make sense to St. Louis therapist Kelly Storck, who has worked with children and parents for 20 years. But the topic of gender doesn’t always make sense to kids, or even the adults in their lives. That’s why Storck wrote her new book “The Gender Identity Workbook for Kids: A Guide to Exploring Who You Are.”
“I watched some of the most beautiful, amazing children struggling to communicate with people — and find language and space — and share with parents who love them, and want to understand what’s going on,” Storck said.
Bodies, clothes, identity and expression
There are already books about gender for teenagers, Storck said. Her 150-page, illustrated book is meant for kids ages 4 to 13.
It includes 37 activities, broken up into three sections: what is gender, how do you identify and how can you be yourself? Through a series of questions, kids learn about the “gender binary” — the classification of two distinct genders — and how some people identify as gender non-conforming and others, as transgender. People who are transgender identify as a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth.
Readers see images of different kinds of bodies, pick out clothes and hairstyles, and answer questions like: “In what ways do you feel like neither a girl or a boy?” And “How do you feel about your body?”
“Often transgender kids have an experience of their body that’s distressing, or at least confusing,” Storck said.
This experience may intensify as they begin to think about adolescence, Storck said.
There’s a section that includes input from a parents or other trusted adult. For children who have no supportive adults in their lives, Storck writes: “Keep looking for people who get it, and who you can trust to know who you are.”
The book will be published in April.
Follow Nancy on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL