Deciding how the child will present outside of the home
Children of this age are leaving the sphere of the home and family and venturing out into the world for much more of their day. For many hours a day now they are in the company of other children and teachers. They will be faced with decisions of how to present themselves to the world in regards to their gender. It’s important for the parents to decide what is in the best interest of the child before they begin school (or before each school year) and to communicate with the child about how they will present. There is no right or wrong decision here, only what is best for the child and family overall. Some things to take into account are
- How dysphoric is the child? Meaning how severe is their gender variance?
- How able is the child to respond to questions or negative comments?
- How accepting is the school environment?
- Will the child be in danger?
- Is there an ally (a supportive teacher, adult or friend) who knows about the situation and is with the child for most of the day.
- Will presenting in the natal (born) gender be too emotionally difficult for the child?
- Will a responsible person be picking up the child from school each day?
- Is the child likely to tell you if they are being mistreated or bullied?
In making the decision these things, as well as the maturity of the child must be taken into consideration. It is OK to delay having the child present in the felt- gender outside the home until there can be reasonable assurance of their comfort and safety, especially in the elementary school years when the child is more vulnerable and has fewer internal resources due to their young age. However, if the environment and other factors are favorable enough to allow the child to present in their felt-gender, it will help the child feel authentic and accepted and do away with the anxiety and tension of having to pretend they are someone they are not.