Age 11–13

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Family -

At this age, pre­teens:

Feel self-con­scious about phys­i­cal changes and feel pres­sure to con­form to cul­tural gen­der norms.

Are in­tol­er­ant of cross-gen­der man­ner­isms and be­hav­iours.

Are con­cerned about dat­ing po­ten­tial. Want to pick their own shows, and they’re of­ten shows in­tended for older chil­dren.

Are more in­ter­ested in peers than par­ents.

What you can do

Em­pha­sise that worth and hap­pi­ness don’t come from ap­pear­ance (es­pe­cially im­por­tant for fe­male char­ac­ters) or from phys­i­cal strength (es­pe­cially im­por­tant for male char­ac­ters).

Watch a movie such as Ar­rival and re­mark on the lead char­ac­ter be­ing a fe­male pro­fes­sor. Or try Billy El­liot, about an Ir­ish boy who wants to be a dancer de­spite his father’s ob­jec­tions. Ask: “How do these char­ac­ters go against what so­ci­ety ex­pects of them?”

Com­ment pos­i­tively on healthy, sup­port­ive, and ful­fill­ing cross-gen­der friend­ships and re­la­tion­ships. Try a movie such as Bridge to Ter­abithia (or read the book), which fea­tures an equal friend­ship be­tween the boy and girl main char­ac­ters. Dis­cuss what makes them such good friends and what each one teaches the other.

Talk about how trans­gen­der char­ac­ters in movies and on TV are of­ten the tar­get of bul­ly­ing. Try a show such as I Am Jazz, about a trans­gen­der teen. Ask: “How did you feel when Jazz was bul­lied. If you knew her, would you de­fend her?”

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