Aline Lathrop discusses gender identity in children and her new play MERCHILD in the Chicago Tribune
A first grader's lessons about gender identity in 'Merchild'
By Catey Sullivan
It's been a banner couple of years for transgender activism: The glamorous LaVerne Cox graced the cover of Time. Amazon's original TV series "Transparent" became a bonafide hit. Jazz Jennings, who was only seven when she gave Barbara Walters her first interview, grew into an eloquent, sunny teenage champion of transgender rights. And of course Bruce Jenner's transition to Caitlyn Jenner put a huge spotlight on being transgender. But back when Chicago playwright Aline Lathrop began researching transgender children for her new play "Merchild," transgender people were largely invisible.
"When I was just getting started with this play, when I told people I was writing about a transgender child, I would get blank looks. They would say 'what's that?" Lathrop says.
Opening Sept. 10 at Berwyn's 16th Street Theater, "Merchild" explores the world of a family raising a child who knows she's a girl, despite being physically born a boy.
Lathrop was sparked to research the subject after hearing a 2009 episode about transgender 8-year-olds on National Public Radio. "I was born a girl, I've always felt like a girl," Lathrop says. "I can't even imagine how I would deal with it if outside body didn't match my identity."
Statistically, the trans community is very small, but it is also a community that's subjected to more than its share of violence. Transgender youth have higher instances of homelessness and suicide than their non-transgender peers.
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16th Street Theatre presents, 'Merchild'
Sept. 10–Oct. 17
16th Street Theater, 6420 16th St., Berwyn
Robert A. Freedman Dramatic Agency, Inc.
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