As society’s understanding of gender evolves, the numbers of self-identified transgender and gender-expansive students within our classrooms are growing. Unfortunately, educators and others within the school system can lack the resources, knowledge, and vocabulary to provide the necessary supports for these students to thrive. Melinda M. Mangin’s book, Transgender Students in Elementary School: Creating an Affirming and Inclusive School Culture fills this gap for educators and provides clear, concrete steps to create an “affirming and inclusive school culture.”
Mangin’s book is both practical and informative, and is intended to be used by educators and other education stakeholders looking to develop a more informed practice. The chapters are organized by topic (e.g. “What to Do About Gendered School Spaces?”) and includes an extensive glossary of transgender terms. Mangin provides a comprehensive overview of several important concepts, including the differences between sex, gender, and sexual orientation, as well as “gender fluid” and “gender expansive.”
Perhaps the most valuable aspects of Transgender Students in Elementary School are the first-hand accounts from educators, principals, parents, and others that are peppered throughout the text. These anecdotes provide powerful insight into the experiences of those closest to transgender students and the struggles and successes they have faced in creating a more gender inclusive culture within their school buildings. I often found my eyes skipping ahead to these sections of the text, as they outlined (sometimes with brutal honesty) the intersectionality between the participants’ own lived experiences and their personal perceptions of gender.
Despite being an American publication aimed specifically at elementary school educators, Transgender Students in Elementary School is a worthwhile read for anyone working within in the system. Mangin successfully weaves both data and narrative together into an easily accessible, insightful text; I highly recommend.