Resources: LGBTTQIA

Posted: April 1, 2013 in On Our Minds, Resources
Tags: ,

I couldn’t get to sleep for two nights in a row thinking about Nikita (not her real name). Nikita is a biological male, expressing herself and seeing herself as female. There are no books for her. Ok, maybe there is one: Luna by Julie Ann Peters. Luna is about a white kid, though, and a kid that has a home and family and resources. Not exactly the population I serve.

The first book I read on the subject, that really helped me to understand the issue of transgender is The Riddle of Gender: Science, Activism and Transgender Rights Wow. It put the whole thing into perspective in so many ways. I highly recommend it. I also loved She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders. Well written, and the author is actually a writer of children’s books – but I don’t think I ever found out which ones, as she writes under a pseudonym.

But back to Nikita. I haven’t done a lot of out programming around LGBTTQIA (See Definition of terms) as the entire facility is, in general, homophobic and religious. Not a great mix. But with the new Prison Rape Elimination Act  (PREA) laws, there is a lot more conversation happening. As a result of these new laws, youth are being asked when they come in what gender they identify with and are housed accordingly. So when Nikita came in, she said she was a girl and she is dressed in the pink that our girls wear and placed in the unit with the girls. Wow!!! She must have been in heaven – I can only imagine that being able to dress and be with the girls 24/7 is  not her experience on the outside. Of course she’s not protected from the ignorance of staff, case managers and the rest, but there is something to be said about being able to have this experience. As usual, one of the strange ironies about being in custody: sometimes a kid experiences resources they surely don’t have on the streets (like three meals a day, structured activities, a kick ass library, a place to sleep and in our case a top notch medical facility and health care).

The PREA laws came about due to amazing work from many people, in no small part TJ Parsell . His book, Fish: A Memoir of a Boy in a Man’s Prison  is a deep and thoughtful look  about his experience sorting out rape, consensual sex and sexuality in the horrific confines of being a 17 year old skinny/kinda wimpy boy in a man’s prison.

Back to PREA and programming and Nikita. Not only was Nikita in the unit last week, but about 6 other kids expressing their gender and sexuality in a fluid way. It was an amazing experience. I brought in Joel Baum from  Gender Spectrum  who did a fantastic program illuminating the gender spectrum. Note that they have a conference coming up in July, 2013. Through Joel I learned about a lot more resources. Here are just a few below.

The World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Standards of Care

Booklist: 01 gender bibliography17

A_Place_Of_Respect : A Guide for Group Care Facilities Serving Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth

Supporting Gender Independent Children and Their Families




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