This morning I introduced our new persona doll, Rose. Here I will show pieces of our conversations during circle-
Alisha: I want to introduce you to someone. She’s a little nervous to be here, will
you all be kind to her? [Kids say yes!] Rose is 5 years old. [The 5 year olds in our class all made the connection sign with Rose.] Nick and Rose are friends and go to the same preschool. She lives in a small house in SE Portland with her Mom and Dad. She spends a lot of time at preschool and with her Nanny when her parents are working.
VH: I have a nanny named Amanda!
Alisha: Yeah, connection! There’s also another important thing that Rose wanted to tell you about her. Rose is transgender. Does anyone know what that means?[Many children said “No” or shook their heads.]
DH: She has a girl brain but a boy body! [DH is remembering this language from a book we have in our classroom about a trans girl named Jazz. Other children remembered the book and agree with Dot]
Alisha: Yes. So when she was born, the doctor and the nurses said ‘it’s a boy!’. Her parents, her teachers, her grandparents and doctors all thought she was a boy. When she was born her name was Harvey. That name always made her feel really uncomfortable because in her heart she knew she was a girl. She thought ‘I’m a girl, why does everyone keep calling me a boy?’ Sometimes people at her school mess up and call her by her boy name because she changed it to Rose only a year ago. Even though she knows people are still getting used to it, it still makes her sad when she is called her boy name. Will all of you try really hard to call her by her name, Rose? [Most of the children nodded and said ‘Yes!’]
Alisha: Another thing she wanted to tell you about is the word ‘cisgender’. Can everyone say cisgender? Does anyone know what that means? [Kids all say No] Cisgender is a term used to describe people who identify with the gender they were assigned when they were born. So if the doctor says, ‘it’s a girl’ because the baby is born with a vagina and that baby grows up to identify as a girl or a woman, that person is cisgender.
DH: I’m cisgender!
Alisha: Yes! Many of us here are cisgender. Rose is transgender. Do any of you know anyone else who is transgender? [Adults and some kids raised their hands]
WG: If Rose is scared of crowds of people, why does she keep saying?
Alisha: Well she was nervous, but she sees that you are all being really nice to her. You are being respectful and kind and it helps her not be so nervous.
WG: Well, I don’t really want to be mean to her.
Alisha: That’s great. That’s why she feels comfortable around you. Nick told Rose that you give him advice and help him problem solve sometimes. Rose wants to know if you will do the same for her soon?
All the children agreed and we passed Rose around so each child could give her a gentle hug or high five. The gentleness and love they gave her really showed us how much they connected with her story.
During explore time a small group of children and I had a conversation about gender stereotypes, which I will write more about on Wednesday. It feels really important to be talking about the complexities of gender identity with children. I’m very excited to continue our work on this topic!
See you soon Rose!