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Being a transgender or gender creative (T*GC) child in the United States today means facing a national debate about whether you are entitled to exist, live a full life, or control your body. The battle for T*GC rights today is part of a larger intergenerational war and one key battleground is America’s public schools. Even before the current onslaught of anti-trans* legislation, persistent cis-heteronormativity was rendering thousands of students (and adults) invisible and othered in schools. T*GC students have suffered dire consequences from educational neglect, including among the highest rates of academic exclusion, vulnerability to every kind of violence, poor mental health, and troubling life outcomes. At the time that this manuscript was completed, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was tracking over 460 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, roughly half of which target the T*GC community (children, in particular)—an avalanche of hate orchestrated by a powerful, vocal minority.
T* is for Thriving offers the collected wisdom of transgender and gender creative youth and educators to light a path toward T*GC community thriving. Through their voices, we learn what schooling has been like; how their educational experiences echo throughout their daily lives; and what public education can do better to both center their needs and promote a lifetime of growth and fulfillment.
As concerned and caring adults meeting this moment, we must be courageous about representing, affirming, and celebrating T*GC needs, histories, and contributions in schools. These stories and lessons are an immediate resource for advancing a pedagogy of hope and possibility for the present and future that our children deserve. T* is for Thriving is essential reading for anyone involved in defending the rights of educators and students. It is the perfect text for a variety of courses in social justice, LGBTQ+ topics, and critical pedagogy.