Let’s Talk About Transgender Rights

Unsure about how to talk with your students about transgender rights and related issues, such as gender identity, media representation, transphobia, and antitrans legislation? Here are some resources to start the conversation.


Boy or girl. He or she. At birth, we are assigned one of two genders. For many people, this binary is inaccurate and limiting. It simply doesn’t reflect who they are. Today, over 1.4 million people in the U.S. identify as transgender, and they’re pushing to be seen and accepted—but, more urgently, to live healthy and safe lives. 

Discrimination and violence against trans people is instigated and perpetuated every day, not only by lawmakers and law enforcement but also neighbors and classmates. Their rights to choose their bathroom and to access appropriate health care are consistently contested. And, just last month, the Trump administration’s ban on transgender recruits from joining the military went into effect.

Meanwhile, as equal employment rights are contested in federal court, twenty states, the District of Columbia, and 400-plus cities and counties already legally protect LGBTQ employees from discrimination in the workplace. In the face of injustice, transgender people continue to come out, demand their rights, and say, “We are still here.”

In this “Let’s Talk About” edition, we provide resources to help educate your students about what it means to be transgender and to get them talking about both the systemic injustices and the radical acts of resistance and advocacy.

How to Use This Collection

Suggested below are steps to a thoughtful and meaningful discussion with your students about transgender rights and their role in their personal lives and in society. Choose what is appropriate for your class.

  1. Have students complete a pre-survey  (optional).
  2. Read the background information to set a baseline understanding of what it means to identify as transgender.
  3. Choose at least one YES! article and another site’s article for a robust compare-and- contrast activity.
  4. Use the discussion questions—or craft your own—to gauge your students’ understanding and opinions.
  5. Have students complete a post-survey  (optional).
  6. Explore curriculum if you’d like to dive deeper.

Reading Materials

 Background Information (read this first)

9 Questions About Gender Identity and Being Transgender You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask (Vox)

YES! Articles

When You’re a Transgender Refugee in Trump’s America 

Austin Police Try to Get Past Trans Misgendering and “Deadnaming”

This Harry Potter Enthusiast Just Came Out As Trans On YouTube—And Thousands of People Are Watching

How to Fight the Latest Attempts to Erase “Transgender”

Why I Decided to Come Out to My Students as a Trans Man

 Outside Articles

Alison’s Story (Denver Post)

U.S. Supreme Court takes up major gay, transgender job discrimination cases (Reuters)

Conservative group hosts anti-transgender panel of feminists ‘from the left’ (NBC)

First Time I Saw Me (GLAAD)

Discussion Questions

1. Why is it hard for some people, particularly young people, to come out as transgender? How are these barriers to coming out different from (or similar to) those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer? What are some acts of discrimination and, even, dangers that trans people may face at home, in their communities, and in the U.S.?

2. Have you noticed transphobia—discrimination against transgender people ranging from misgendering to overt violence—in your school or community? How might you be an ally to trans and gender nonbinary people and help change transphobic beliefs?

3. On April 23, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the cases of three LGBTQ individuals who claimed workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These hearings come on the heels of President Trump’s ban on new transgender military recruits. How do these court decisions and federal policies impact transgender rights now and in the future?  


Supporting Trans and Gender Nonconforming (GNC) Students (GLSEN)

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