A program for gender-fluid youth.
By the time most kids reach grade school, they are already well acquainted with The Rules: Blue is for boys, pink is for girls. Trucks are for boys, dolls are for girls. Suits are for boys, dresses for girls. And on and on it goes. Colors, fabrics, toys, movies, hairstyles, hobbies—everything, it seems, has a gender. And those who transgress those rigid binary boundaries, whether or not they ultimately identify as transgender, quickly learn the hard way that who they are, what they want, how they feel comfortable expressing themselves is not okay.
By the time they reach middle school, these gender-fluid children will already be adept at internalizing the bullying, shaming and stigmatizing they experience daily, simply because their gender expression falls outside the accepted norms. And those who identify as transgender will feel unsafe at middle school three times as often as their cisgender peers. They will have lower GPAs, on average, and miss more school out of fear for their safety. They are more likely to suffer from depression and 41% will attempt suicide at some point in their lives, compared with just 4.6% of the general population.
We must do better.
No child should have to fit into a binary gender box to get the love and acceptance they deserve. RAD Kids, North Jersey Pride’s social support network for families of transgender and gender-fluid youth, offers young people an affirming space for self-expression and empowers them to take their place in the world—exactly as they are. By connecting parents and youth with other “RAD Families,” both can receive help and support as these children navigate growing into their authentic selves.
What began as a playdate with just a few families has since grown exponentially, with families coming from all over North Jersey, including Essex, Sussex, Bergen, Middlesex and Hudson counties. In response to demand, we have expanded the program to include regular monthly meetings on the last Sunday of the month for RAD Kids, ages 12 and under, and RAD Teens, ages 13-17. This will be in addition to quarterly fun social outings at venues around North Jersey, and facilitated meetings for parents with experts in gender identity. Dates for 2019 social outings will be announced soon!
If you and your child are interested in attending, or have other questions, please email Laura Gilkey or Jan Kaminsky at radkids(at)northjerseypride.org for specific meeting details. We look forward to seeing you!