A trio of videos created by a Canadian foundation is now available to help young people and their families deal with the “exploration” of gender issues.
The Montreal-based Jasmin Roy Sophie Desmarais Foundation created Julian, formerly Julia, a transgender marionette who “feels in her heart she’s a boy.” The foundation, dedicated to fighting bullying, made the videos and ancillary educational materials available for free on Wednesday.
According to The Canadian Press, the vids are “very targeted” and discuss “gender identity, self-expression and acceptance.”
“We need to develop emotional and social skills for educators, parents and other children who are around those children exploring their gender or expression,” the foundation’s Jasmin Roy said. “Now, every time you have a child in your community who’s dealing with that reality, you’ll have a tool to help you.”
Roy said the inspiration for Julian came in part from Sesame Street, the popular children’s television show which introduced an autistic character named Julia in 2015.
“I said we should do the same thing for a child who is exploring because some children will just explore, and that doesn’t mean they are going (to grow up) to be trans,” Roy said.
But a child expressing that need to explore shouldn’t be ignored either, he added.
A survey commissioned by Roy’s foundation about the LGBTQ community last year found that 98 per cent of trans respondents had periods where they felt helpless, lonely or discouraged in relation to their gender identity or expression.
Julien Leroux-Richardson, president of Aide aux trans du Quebec, a support organization, added that 43 per cent of the trans community will attempt suicide.
Leroux-Richardson, for whom Roy named the Julian puppet, said the trans community’s position has evolved considerably, but the foundation’s initiative is about continuing that trend.
“They (kids) always asked but, before, we didn’t talk about it,” Leroux-Richardson said.
“We’ve stopped being blind about it and we said let’s create resources to help people, to interact, to know what to do if people have a gender variance or are just exploring their gender identity or expression.”