My name is Mel, and I’m the illustrator/co-author of the GENDER book. Have you heard of us? Oh, you have? Sweet! I’m so glad you like it! I’m writing this because sometimes we get transgender youth and their allies asking, “hey, can you come speak at our school?” Here’s the deal with that, and a few other tips for bringing educators to your campus.
So, we do ask for a love donation to help cover our time and travel expenses when we go speak someplace in an official GENDER book capacity, but it all just depends on the resources you have available. You don’t have to pay anything personally, but you do have to be willing to work it and help organize! Your school does have resources, you just need to help wrangle them and spread the word about the event. Can you do that?
These organized talks are more like the keynote we did for Suffolk University’s Transgender Awareness week. We can do a general GENDER 101 multimedia presentation that covers all the basics, from the gender binary to the trans umbrella. Or, we also offer an interactive “How to change the world in three steps" workshop about enacting social political change in your communities, where we share what we learned making the GENDER book as a general roadmap for your own projects. That one includes artsy handouts!
You can help, too, by starting a petition with your classmates about the importance of gender education- the administrators do care what you think (despite how it may seem sometimes), and they would be very impressed by your organization, I bet. You could also get your friends together to do a bake sale or other FUNdraising activity to help fly us all out there to do the full talk. Other grassroots things you can do to help at your school include sending your vice-principals and counselors a link to our safe(r) spaces resource pack, so they can print some materials for their offices.
Okay, I know that’s a lot to throw at you all at once. What do you think?
Mel Reiff Hill
Resident artist at the GENDER book
But no matter what, even if all else fails and your budget is zero dollars, my collaborators and I would be glad to come hang out casually with your GSA/QSA/Rainbow Alliance after school one day. For free! (Well…As long as we live in the same area (currently Houston, Texas and Oakland, California) or happen to be traveling there). We’ll bring some books and coloring/activity pages, you provide the space and people. Is there a club like that at your school? When do they meet? Just shoot us an email to work out the deets.
If we want to do something fancier, like a full-on workshop or talk, we’ll need some funding and some support from the administration. You should approach your school’s counselor, psychologist, or vice-principal, dean, nurse (anyone you feel would be interested in helping) to talk about what it would take to bring the school together in an assembly-like talk. With heartbreaking trans* teen suicides in the news, I think we can all agree it’s a super relevant and important topic. Often different student groups or academics departments pool their resources together for talks like this, so it’s not too much out of any one organization’s budget to fly us in.