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Hi, yesterday we were shopping at a store and asked the person working there a question. The person was cleary TG and after we walked away my 3.5yo daughter asked loudly, "mom was that a lady or a man, he looked like a man, but sounded like a lady".

So, I kind of ignored her b/c I thought the person heard her and honestly didn't know what to say, so just said, we have to go to this aisle to find something. I know kids will find someone who is "different" (size, ability, etc.) and comment in a way that embarrasses the parent, but I want to know from a TG perspective what is the best way to explain in simple terms what TG is to such a young child who is perceptive of differences?

I have worked and gone to a couple of trainings about TG issues, I used to work in HIV/AIDS counseling, so I understand bit but still don't know how to answer my daughter's question.

TIA!
 

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The easiest way around it is to remember that kids that age don't know the gender rules. They don't know that you're "supposed" to be clearly one or the other, or if they do know that, they're so receptive to new ideas, since they're being constantly exposed to new ideas, that you can simply explain that most people are clearly men or women, some people are less clearly so, and other people are not men or women at all, but something else or some combination of the two.

Your child may still be confused, but there are a lot of things kids are confused about at that age, so don't worry about confusing her more.
 

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You know, I'd probably handle that the same way as anything: wow, punkin, you sure did notice a lot! I'm impressed by how observant you are. What do you suppose makes a person a lady? A man?
Alternatively, if you really want an education for your kid--you could find out if that person would be willing to talk for a second with your very curious and questioning child. Sometimes people think this is great--sometimes they're like-get the hell away from me. But I think it's worth checking. A mom approached my partner and I once when I had my goddaughter with. We were clearly a couple. This mom says--I'm so sorry to bother you, but my daughter is asking me all kinds of things about your family, and I hope you might help explain it the best way to her. Well, we had the most delightful conversation with this kiddo, and my goddaughter was truly helpful as well. --"my moms are lesbians too!" It felt wayyy better to me as a person to have someone just ask rather than scoot away and shush the kid and give the kid some reason to think there was something wrong with us.
 

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My kiddo so far thinks/knows gender is something you choose. She was a boy from Christmas til last week, and now she is a girl again.
We have several sort-of-trans friends, like her Uncle H, who she knows is "sort of a boy, sort of a girl."
 

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I live in Bangkok (sex change capital of the world) and many many TG people live in our area. DD has asked me that. My explanation? Some people are boys and some are girls and some are both. I know it's not completely accurate, but it's enough of an explanation that makes sense to her. Do you think that's an OK answer?
 

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We had a similar incident outside of the mall the other day. My DD is 8 and is very interested in the way others' families work, and she is very openminded, especially since her godfathers are a couple. I was lucky enought to have them with us, and they led her right over to him for a chat. She came back to me wideeyed and said ''Mama, when you said I could be anything, I did'nt know all the options!''
All little kids are openminded IMO, and they stay that way until some adult tells them it's wrong. I think whatever you choose to say is'nt as important as the manner in which you say it. If you are straightforward, kids will except all most anything as a normal part of life, yk?
 

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we have come across the same situation as well, and at the age of 3. i was lost as to how to address it at the time. now we simply tell dd that some people are boys and some people are girls, and sometimes people are in a body that is not the same as who they are inside. this has been the best way for her to understand.
 

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I appreciate this question and some of the answers so far.

I've had a little training in being an ally to transgendered people and one thing I learned was to NEVER OUT SOMEONE to others. As we all probably know, it can put that person in physical danger to be outed. So I would discourage folks from approaching a person who you think is transgendered and asking if they'd explain themselves in a public place.

I think I might explain to a child that there are a lot of ways to be a boy or girl and it doesn't matter if you're born with one type of body or the other, it's really up to each person how they want to express themeselves.
 

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and it was no big deal. I have a female-to-male brother, and once the kids started to notice discrepancies in family pictures (ie, who's that girl? Where is Uncle X?), we simply told them that Uncle X was born a girl, but he was supposed to be a boy, so he had it fixed. No big deal, it's never come up again. The girls talk about it periodically, but again, there was no 'shock and horror' that adults might react with.

Kids are naturally curious, and I think we do them a disservice if we're not honest. I think if anything, ignoring the question in front of the TG person might make it feel like more of an issue than it really is.

susie
 

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i don't have any ideas about this because i'm not tg and don't have anyone in my life who is. but i used to shave my head down to the skin and have many times gotten the question from kids, "are you a boy or a girl?" i think it's so refreshing because i can always tell that they're open to whatever answer i might give them and they don't feel ashamed for being curious. it isn't like, hey, you're a girl! you're supposed to ________ ... there's no judgement ..... like pp said, i think kids are so open minded. they're ready to accept anything as long as there's good energy involved.

also, you're the only other person i've ever seen spell Lyla that way. it's a beautiful name and our daughters are lucky!
 

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One thing that is important is not to assume the person you are seeing is TG. MY DP is mistaken as a man all the time-and people assume that she is TG-and perhaps in some stage of transitioning. The reality is she's just overweight, feels that men's clothing fit her better, and has very short hair-she's higher on the butch spectrum-and very female identified.

I don't have better ideas on how to respond. I can't think of anything better that I read! We did explain DP to a niece by saying that their are lots of ways of being a boy and girl and all of them are OK.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by FtMPapa View Post
The easiest way around it is to remember that kids that age don't know the gender rules. They don't know that you're "supposed" to be clearly one or the other, or if they do know that, they're so receptive to new ideas, since they're being constantly exposed to new ideas, that you can simply explain that most people are clearly men or women, some people are less clearly so, and other people are not men or women at all, but something else or some combination of the two.

Your child may still be confused, but there are a lot of things kids are confused about at that age, so don't worry about confusing her more.
i like this idea the best.....
 

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I should have mentioned earlier - I thought it was clear from my username - I am transgendered, FTM, and I thought I should chime in with another sort of general response to most of what has been said.

Interestingly, I pass to everyone - I've had chest surgery, and I've been on T for several years (though now off for three), and I'm big and tall - except (occasionally) children who are 3 or 4 years old.

Kids that age tend to sense some sort of ambiguity. I suspect it's because they're just learning the gender rules at that age, and they're working hard at figuring me out. I tend to deliberately flout the gender rules - I have large floral-themed tattoos on the most visible part of my left forearm, I tend to wear pink, I used to have several earrings in each ear, etc. Those cues don't confuse adults, I don't think they even notice them, or if they do, they read me as queer, but for some reason they do throw kids off.

All of that ramblyness aside, I would feel a little weird if someone asked me to explain myself to their kids. This would, of course, depend on context - a friend, sure, someone I don't know that I've bumped into at a grocery store? Not so much. It could also compromise my safety. I don't mind educating kids, but just because I exist in the world as a trans person doesn't mean that I am constantly on duty 24/7 to educate the masses.

It is incumbent upon you as a parent to educate your child in an age-appropriate way. You don't have to give them the whole spiel, that would probably confuse them, but an explanation that some people are girls, some people are boys, some people are a little bit of both, and some people are neither, is probably good enough for most kids. They may ask more questions, and you should let them guide you.
 

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I wanted to just pop in again to uhhhh, clarify. Before I mentioned asking the person in question if they wanted to chat about themselves, but I think it's important not to walk up to someone and be like "hey, you're a TG!" Assumptions are soooo bad. I also think it would be rude to walk up to someone and say, hey, my kid thinks you're really fat, wanna talk about it?
I have allowed a child to ask a vet about his missing leg (with my help)--not like I'm equating any of these things with each other. I guess my point was, it's better to check in after a very "vocal" question as opposed to hushing a kid. Could make the person feel really bad who overhears it, and make the kid think something shameful just happened. I should add too, that the lady who approached my family in the store did so very discreetly and without any assumptions, so that made us more likely to chat with the kid a bit. Had she said "look kid, there's some *****! Let's ask em about it!" I think I would have declined.
 
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