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Table of Contents

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  • Free Cuentos del corazón/Stories from the Heart

    An after-school writing project for bilingual students and their families

    By Jessica Singer Early, Tracey Flores

    Second graders and their families write together, countering Arizona’s English-only, segregated, and anti-immigrant school policies.

  • Free Cuentos del corazón

    Un proyecto de escritura después de clases para los estudiantes bilingües y sus familias

    Por Jessica Singer Early, Tracey Flores | Traducido por Nicholas Yurchenco

    Los estudiantes de segundo grado escriben junto con sus familias, desafiando las políticas monolingües, anti-inmigrantes, y de segregación de Arizona.

  • Free English-Only to the Core

    What the Common Core means for emergent bilingual youth

    By Jeff Bale

    Is the Common Core better than current approaches to English language learners—or the next salvo in more than a decade of attacks on bilingual programs?

  • Free “¿Qué es deportar?”

    Teaching from students’ lives

    By Sandra Osorio

    An early elementary school teacher realizes she needs to dump the scripted curriculum and basal reader, find Latina/o literature in Spanish, and make space for her students’ thoughts and feelings.

  • Free “¿Qué es deportar?”

    Enseñar a partir de las vidas de los estudiantes

    Por Sandra Osorio | Traducido por Arthur Eisele

    Una maestra de primaria se da cuenta que debe dejar a un lado el guión y la antología de su currículo para encontrar literatura latina en español y abrir un espacio a las vidas de sus estudiantes.

  • Features
  • Free Who Made the New Deal?

    Part I: What Caused the Great Depression?

    By Adam Sanchez

    High school students play the Widget Boom Game to understand how overproduction and underconsumption helped cause the Great Depression.

  • Baby Mamas in Literature and Life

    By Abby Kindelsperger

    Inspired by students’ responses to her own pregnancy, a high school English teacher develops a unit based on teen pregnancy and motherhood—rejecting the usual deficit-based narrative of teen parenting.

  • A Midsummer Night’s Gender Diversity

    By Lauren Porosoff

    Middle schoolers explore how Shakespeare plays with gender expression and expectations in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

  • The Hidden Agenda of High School Assemblies

    By Jessica Richter-Furman

    A high school teacher realizes that, despite her school’s diverse student body, the students on the stage at assemblies are virtually all white and male. She sets out to understand why and to change the pattern.

  • Departments Free
    Letter from the Editors
  • Bilingual Education: Stories from the Heart

    By The Editors of Rethinking Schools
  • Education Action
  • Anti-Privatization Movement Goes International

  • Books and Authors
  • Mirrors and Windows: Conversations with Jacqueline Woodson

    By Renée Watson
  • Resources
  • Our picks for books, videos, websites, and other social justice education resources.
  • Good Stuff
  • Beyond Magenta

    Reviewed by Melissa Bollow Tempel

Beyond Magenta

Beyond Magenta

Words and photographs by Susan Kuklin

(Candlewick Press, 2014)

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out

“You have got to come out here and see this!” That’s how a transgender student was introduced to her homeroom teacher at a high school in my district. When I heard the story from a friend, it brought me almost to tears. How could one human being refer to another with such disrespect? Unfortunately, this is the awful reality for far too many trans youth in our schools.

Susan Kuklin first caught my attention a few years ago when I was browsing at the public library. Her book Families includes oral interviews and photographs of biracial families, families with divorced parents, gay and lesbian families with children. (See “Disarming the Nuclear Family,” by Willow McCormick, summer 2014.) Although Families does not include all the kinds of families in my large urban district (e.g., blended families, extended families, or children living with other guardians), we have had great conversations about the book in my early elementary classrooms. A year later, when I was leading professional development workshops on gender and sexuality, a colleague pointed me to Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out.

The award-winning Beyond Magenta is for youth, parents, and educators. It illuminates the lives of transgender and questioning teens and their parents through photos and interviews. First we meet Jesse, who shares photos of himself as a child named Jessica, as a high school student, and then through his transition. Jesse’s story is positive: His family has accepted him and he is in a happy relationship.

Christina describes her more difficult transition from male to female. Christina’s mother, who is also interviewed, warns readers: “Don’t say horrible things to your child. That will haunt me till the day I die.”

Mariah was moved between foster homes, treatment centers, hospitals, and a psychiatric center. Nat is an intersex youth whose struggle with identity led to serious depression.

Then there is Cameron, who explains: “Gender is one variable in a person’s identity, and sexual orientation is another variable. The two are not connected. Being trans is not the next step to being gay. They are similar in that they are both breaking gender rules…. I like to think that’s obvious, but I guess it’s not.” Cameron, who uses the pronoun they, describes themself as pansexual—“I like people regardless of gender”—and their style as “gender fuck”—“blending stuff, having something girl and something boy and something neither.”

The individuality of the youth voices in Beyond Magenta makes it clear that we cannot assume that all transgender teens share the same experience. Each person’s story is unique.

Beyond Magenta includes a glossary and resources. In the question and answer section, Manel Silva, former clinical director of Health Outreach to Teens at the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in New York City, addresses questions about the transition process.

Kuklin has written a book that is easily accessible to teens and adults. Although it will serve as a comfort for trans and questioning youth, Kuklin asks us to think about what the information means to the rest of us: “Once we get to know individuals who may be different from ourselves, it is less likely we will be wary of them. And maybe, just maybe, we will learn a little bit about ourselves.”