Article for The International Journal of Leadership in Public Services
Article for Unpsychology Magazine
Becoming an Ally to the Gender-Expansive Child
When Anna Bianchi's grandchild asked, "Nanny, you do know I'm a girl, don't you?", Anna recognised this as a pivotal, and daunting, moment in their relationship. She knew that to answer her grandchild, who had been assigned male at birth, her own attitudes, assumptions and beliefs about gender would need to be examined.
With reassuring honesty and openness, Anna draws deeply on four areas: her own experience, current research, interviews with children and their families, and a discussion of power, both in society and between children and adults. She shows how the inner journey of the adult inevitably impacts on the outer journey of the child and, given the significance of this, offers a step-by-step guide to becoming an ally to the gender-expansive child.
For anyone eager to understand their child's gender experience, or to learn how best to accept, support and protect them, this book will provide knowledge, reassurance and the confidence to do so.
'When author Bianchi's grandson Ruben was only four years old, his 'clarity about his own gender path was apparent to anyone who knew him.' Bianchi, who identifies as cisgender, writes, 'My fears, my politics, my prejudice, assumptions and attitudes were all exposed, caught up, spun around and scattered by this experience.' She then understood that she needed to 'step down as the all-knowing adult and become an apprentice to life instead.' The heartfelt and open text identifies four keys to becoming an ally to the gender-expansive child: listening, imagination, empathy, and courage. Bianchi walks a graceful path, seamlessly exploring her own experience, that of her grandchild, the politics of society, and the human conditions of fear and love. VERDICT In this powerful offering, the author weaves a combination of biography and parental advice into the important topics of safety, labels, bigotry, and forgiveness. Enthusiastically recommended for growing collections on transgender youth.'
Library Journal starred review
'Anna Bianchi, in her empathy and wisdom as a grandmother and a scholar, goes deep and wide, from our insides to the outside world, guiding us on the journey of building a circle of support around our gender creative children, whether they be our grandchild, our own child, or every child. With gender expansive children as our leaders, Bianchi teaches us how to achieve the acceptance, advocacy, and activism that qualify us as allies to the children. A must read.'
Diane Ehrensaft, Ph.D., Director of Mental Health, Child and Adolescent Gender Center and author of 'The Gender Creative Child' and 'Gender Born, Gender Made'
'This book should be essential reading for anyone who looks after or works with children and young people. It would also be really useful reading for anyone working or interested in the fields of equality and diversity. Anna's writing style draws the reader in to some very personal stories, anecdotes and acts as a useful how to guide to support children and young people questioning their gender identity. The book challenges the reader to go on a deep dive to explore their own thoughts, feelings and unconscious prejudices. The book is also structured as a workbook to support parents and carers of children and young people guiding them on a journey to being truly inclusive parents. Written at a time of challenging debate around gender identity and the rights of transgender people, I cannot recommend this book enough.'
Berkeley Wilde, Director, The Diversity Trust
'As the grandmother of a transgender child, Anna Bianchi provides a much needed perspective on an ally's journey through the Gender Matrix. Guided by her own family's process, and by the love for her grandchild, Bianchi gently coaches others to challenge their own gender assumptions, moving not only through acceptance, but towards an actual social transformation.'
Rachel Pepper, LMFT, author of 'Transitions of the Heart' and 'The Transgender Child'