Jan 182013

Book Cover - http://genderborngendermade.com/

Gender Born, Gender Made: Raising Healthy Gender Non-Conforming Children was written by Dr. Diane Ehrensaft and published in 2011. Dr. Ehrensaft is a psychoanalytically trained developmental and clinical psychologist. Her practice includes transgender and gender non-conforming youth, and she works closely with Gender Spectrum, which also works with such youth.

How to summarize the book? It is an exploration. Dr. Ehrensaft pulls strands from her experiences working with children (including her own) to weave a tapestry of stories which she uses to address everything from the varying experiences of gender, psychological theories surrounding gender, to parental and sibling reactions and experiences. Some of the stories are heartwarming; some heartbreaking.

Underlying this is Dr. Ehrensaft’s refreshing philosophy: Let the children explore freely and guide. She also describes the psychoanalytic perspective and Zucker’s reparative perspective as contrast. In all, though, the book is very light on theory and rich with anecdotes, demonstrating helpful and harmful approaches and the varying ways children react to and explore their gender.

Who should read it? I think it was primarily intended for parents of gender non-conforming children. Therapists treating families with gender non-conforming children may find some of the terminology and ideas useful in their own practices. The language is accessible for a lay audience, and Dr. Ehrensaft uses pronouns with respectful grace and skill.

Overall, I recommend it. Besides, look at that adorable child on the cover. How can you resist?

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