We are at the point of real change in social attitudes to gender and sexual diversity and it’s our children who are leading the way.

My 11 year daughter and her friends are absolutely up to speed with gender and sexual diversity terms and they all have a powerful sense of the right each person has to be an individual, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. You could expect that from a sex therapist’s child I guess, but her friends have been a far greater influence over her than I have on this issue. They are incensed at the gender associations of clothes, colours, names and sports. They explain to their gender binary fathers why people like Seann Miley Moore have a right to wear make-up and a dress even if they have male genitalia and that identifying as gender plural is legitimate. They have taken issue with their school’s 1986 Thesaurus which lists ‘abnormal’ as an alternative for bi-sexual. They challenge their peers when they hear the word ‘gay’ being used as a throw away insult and they grumble about the relationships in their school books all being heterosexual. They might get their terms slightly wrong occasionally – I heard them saying recently that they are pleased people can ‘transfer’ their gender, but it’s their sense that the option to transition is a good thing that matters more than having the exact right word to describe it. This isn’t something that is actively taught in their school. They are all at a standard state school that is neither progressive nor overly traditional. This is YouTube and social media lead and supported by some excellent children’s books on the theme of gender and sexual diversity such as George and The Art of Being Normal.

Further evidence of the change in thinking was in a conversation I over heard in a Costa in East London recently. A group of teenagers were talking about hypothetical relationship dilemmas. One such dilemma they considered was ‘would they continue to date a boy who dressed as a girl’. Responses ranged from ‘of course, what’s the big deal’ to ‘not if they nicked my clothes’ to ‘ depends how much I loved that person’. I didn’t hear one derogatory comment about the idea of ‘boys’ wearing ‘girls’ clothes. When I was in my 20’s I didn’t hear conversations like that, even in my right on, intellectual days at university.

Attitudes are changing and those of us who are currently identified as adults need to catch up. It’s one thing for our children to teach us about social media and technology – it’s quite another for 11 year olds to know more about diversity than we do.

Thankfully, for those of us working in helping professions, the leading counselling and psychotherapy associations are addressing this gap of awareness in their membership through the development of a Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy. As well as seeking to protect clients, this document commits it’s signatories to educating their members in diversity. At the moment the Memorandum focusses on sexual diversity but the next version promises to include gender, which is a much needed update to a much needed national agreement. Anyone who feels they are behind the curve can find excellent training events at Pink Therapy, who are experts in this field. Alternatively, a day or two in the company of 11 year olds will bring everyone up to speed!

Local Counselling Centre honours all gender identities and sexual orientations and we have specially trained professionals in our team who have the expertise to work with gender and sexual themes. Contact us today for a confidential consultation on 01462 674671 option 2 or email hello@localcounsellingcentre.co.uk