Making wonderful holiday memories with kids can involve a lot of special activities, but getting them an unforgettably great gift ranks pretty high up there. And for kids who are exploring what gender means to them, this is a chance for parents and other relatives of children to give a present that once unwrapped, validates them in all the right ways.
Of course, you don’t have to get a gift related to identity; with any kid, consider their preferences and wishlists in your hunt. Do they like unicorn backpacks? Are obsessed with slime? Love playing with the trendiest toys? All stellar options to consider.
Gifts for kids that don’t create clutter or mess. Story continues below slideshow.
But if you think a gift that is mindful of how they navigate the world or want to be seen is what you want to give, taking that route can send them an affirming message they can hold onto long after the holidays end.
Whether you’re looking for a youth who identifies as trans, non-binary, and/or Two-Spirit, or finding something for a child who doesn’t care about gender norms at all, there are thankfully many ways to show them how much you care. Here are some suggestions:
Gifts that support gender expression
Presenting yourself authentically day-to-day can be hard for many trans youth, especially for those who are unable to access transition-related health care they need. Giving clothing and accessories that help alleviate discomfort can mean a lot to the receiver.
What that looks like will depend on the individual and how they see themselves; some might want clothes that are conventionally in the women’s or men’s section. Others might ask for clothing that’s marketed as gender-neutral.
There are also specialty items that address specific discomfort a trans youth might have about their body. You probably won’t be able to buy these products at any big-box retailer. To find a selection of gender-affirming products, it helps to contact a speciality shop like the Canadian-owned Gender Gear. They sell wearable products like binders that bind breasts safely and breast forms that can make chests fuller.
For these kinds of gifts, it might be best to check in with the youth in question; there may be a specific type of product or brand they like, or they might prefer to procure it themselves.
If you’re having trouble finding a physical place to buy products, your local LGBTQ community centre or organization might be able to help. Skipping Stone in Calgary runs a gender gear program for youth and adults, where staff can help shoppers make their purchases.
Gifts that show trans media representation
Many trans kids appreciate seeing identities like their own reflected in media. A box set of the cartoon “Steven Universe,” comic books featuring trans characters like The Backstagers, and YA lit that feature trans people in nuanced, positive ways are all good options. So are games that offer gender options that respect their pronouns, like “LongStory.”
Non-fiction resources can also be appreciated, especially if youth are looking to deepen their understanding about identity or relate to others who are in similar situations to their own.
Older teens looking for media of substance can find solace in more mature content.
Have a teen to shop for? We’ve picked out some great options. Story continues below slideshow.
Independent video games are often made by trans developers, featuring issues they personally have experienced. Games like “We Know The Devil” have been lauded for authentically depicting how isolated LGBTQ+ youth feel.
Gifts that are openly proud
As one’s relationship with their identity grows, they can gravitate towards showing their pride. Apparel that features trans community imagery and messaging can signal to others who they are, no verbal conversation necessary.
This can serve a practical function, too: for youth who are often burdened by misgendering, a present that shows their pronouns can be a source of security and an easy thing to point people to.
When you can, purchasing products made by gender-diverse sellers is a thoughtful gesture that puts money into the community and ensures what you’re getting was created by someone in that community too.
Most of these sellers can be found online, but if you prefer buying in-person there may be LGBTQ+ vendor pop-ups near you. Spaces like Pink Market or Flamingo Market in Toronto provide opportunities for queer and trans vendors to sell their goods.
Gifts that give entry to safe spaces
Many public spaces can make trans people feel self-conscious. Working out at the gym, getting a haircut, or getting a massage are just a few things trans individuals might avoid to spare themselves from harassment or feeling uneasy.
Giving experiences that remove those worries can be quite meaningful, as they help kids access services that much easier. This can look like assuring youth that the professional they’ll be seeing will respect their identity, which will involve vetting on your part.
You may also be able to gift them experiences that are geared towards their community, like gym classes at an LGBTQ gym or a gift card to a salon that provides gender-neutral pricing.
There are also experience gifts that involve meeting other community members. Maybe their favourite musician identifies as genderqueer or has a lot of trans fans. A ticket to that concert would be sure to make them happy.
Giving money doesn’t have to be impersonal. All kids appreciate getting extra cash, but trans youth particularly might be trying to save up for important reasons. Trans people often crowdfund surgeries or for safe housing.
Watch: How to make life easier for trans kids in school. Story continues below.
Getting their permission to start a campaign in their name can be the gift that keeps on giving, as they’ll be receiving monetary help from others who care about them, too.
Let trans kids know they’re loved
Whatever present you get them, nothing beats the message you’ll be sending them: that you are enough to truly appreciate who they are and the difference they’re making in your life.
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