For the first time in its almost 130-year history, the National Geographic Magazine put the face of transgender girl on its cover.
The January 2017 special issue, titled “Gender Revolution,” takes a look at traditional gender roles and rituals for manhood and womanhood across the globe. Editor in chief of National Geographic magazine, Susan Goldberg, and her team, spoke with more than 100 children and teens around the world who don’t identify with those roles.
Besides the obvious benefits of happiness and well-balanced lives that social acceptance will bring to transgender and intersex children...
Why is the cultural study of gender by one of America’s most respected magazines a big deal for SOFFAs?
The answer is simple:
Because if parents and society allow a child to align with his or her gender identity (at an age the parents feel is appropriate) they will help prevent the eventual, crushing devastation that suppressing gender identity has on countless others too.
As SOFFA’s we’ve personally witnessed the horrors that transgender children and adults face. From bullying at school and threats to their safety in bathrooms, to personal injury from strangers or worse— suicide and murder—we know the risks are great, and the reality incomprehensibly painful.
And like most SOFFAS will tell you, I can't fathom the lifelong confusion and self loathing that my mate endured for decades when prohibiting her then, inner mysteries, to surface. But SOFFA’s live out their own flavor of hell too. From days-long crying jags after learning our loved ones are not who they presented themselves to be, to numbness, depression, or even the lack of will to live that our transgender mates have known, our lives have been blown to bits in countless ways, too.
We've endured watching someone flip back and forth between genders in their own terrified bouts of resistance and acceptance. We've dealt with the pubescent effects of someone on huge doses of hormones.
We've made endless negotiations for a peaceful existence—negotiations that range from taking Viagra to compensate for the “atrophy” of estrogen, (which doesn't work) to open marriages, to sleeping in the same bed without touching for years.
We've lost long nights of sleep, too, just as our transgender mates have, worrying about how to,
Tell the children, the evangelistic parents, and our best-friend-and-former-bridesmaid the news.
Often, only to
Lose the children, lose the parents, and lose the former bridesmaid as a friend.
And yes, success stories about transcouples who stay together and transitioned with minimal trauma are plentiful as well. But for most heterosexual men or women like me who married with little suspicion of their mate's transgender nature, that kind of peace did not come without first passing through a darkened causeway that resembled a house of mirrors after taking too many bad drugs.
For that reason SOFFA's emotional, mental, and devastating financial experiences must be understood too, if the true cost of suppressing a child’s gender is to be accurately assessed.
My point here is that all the pain and suffering IS PREVENTABLE for everyone involved. We need only to take example from the numerous societies (see links below) that have allowed gender continuum to exist in the light of day—because exist, it does.
I applaud National Geographic’s historic issue and accompanying documentary for shedding light on this very complex topic in a way only they can do.
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For more on cultural acceptance of gender, visit
Indians 101: Gender Among Northern Plains Indians
The print and digital version of National Geographic’s special issue, will be accompanied by a documentary called, Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric.
The two-hour documentary that focuses on the lives of real people, not celebrities, premieres in February, 2017.
See the full issue here, at National Geographic.com