Skip to main content
  1. Posts/

Supporting Trans Kids in the Library

·583 words·3 mins
Ahliah Bratzler
Librarian focused on increasing acceptance, knowledge, and support of LGBTQIA+ people.
Table of Contents

If you’re on this blog, you’ve no doubt seen the plethora of anti-trans bills in state legislatures across the United States. Most of these bills are aimed at transgender children – some strip away the right to medical interventions like puberty blockers, others prevent children and teens from playing in sports, and others still require teachers and administrators in our schools to out any child with “gender non-conforming habits”. These bills sponsor harm against transgender youth across the country in the name of a skewed, far-right morality that only allows for certain ways of being human. We know that preventing trans youth from coming out and living authentically leads to a rise in self-harm, attempted suicide, and suicide, therefore these bills are direct attacks on the lives and livelihood of transgender and nonbinary youth. (Thankfully, during the writing of this, a bill in Florida requiring genital inspection of children thought to be transgender was defeated in legislature.) How can libraries help the trans youth who are the targets of state-sponsored violence?

What can you do?

I suggest that libraries, school and public specifically, should be on the forefront of this fight. While we should come out as institutions against the legislation, some of us are required by law to stay neutral in matters of politics. However, regardless of whether you can or cannot act politically, your library can and should become a bastion of safety for transgender youth (and adults, too, but we can talk about that later). Here are some ideas on how you can increase the safety of your space and hopefully help trans and nonbinary students feel welcome to be themselves.

  • Buy as many positive representations of transgender and nonbinary people as possible within your budget – I’m talking physical books, e- and audiobooks, magazines, video, music, the posters you put up in the space, etc. Can’t buy anything? Provide coloring pages, make buttons for staff to wear, make book displays in pink, white, and blue (the colors of the trans flag).
  • Don’t out your students. If you’re in a school district that requires you to out people, feign ignorance. You don’t know what they mean by gender non-compliance, and if they tell you what they mean, you just have never noticed it.
  • Provide reference sheets digitally to student’s personal emails so there’s no paper in their hands or anything in their school profiles.
  • Be welcoming to youth who are in the library just to hang out. They’re looking for a place to be themselves away from prying eyes. Provide that.
  • Are you a public library worker? Be BOLD! Advocate for your library to form spaces for LGBTQ youth to meet up. Use your autonomy from the schools to promote books about trans youth. Hold book clubs with trans YA authors, stories, and characters, and make them open to youth of all genders.
  • Make sure your adult section is not lacking in transgender resources! Ensure there are books about what transgender means, positive healthcare information, legal resources, etc. for the parents of trans kids.

Whatever you do, we must band together as educators and library staff to provide the best service we can to transgender youth at all times, but especially in these times of politicization of children’s bodies. It’s our duty to do what we can to ensure they are loved, cared for, and informed.

Photo description and credit: Child running with a transgender flag during a Pride Parade in Portland, Maine. Photo by Mercedes Mehling on Unsplash.