NBC News this week offered two profiles of young transgender students and some of the family, medical, and school issues they face.
The reports on “NBC Nightly News” by national correspondent Kate Snow focus on 5-year-old Jacob, who began life as a girl, and 8-year-old Malisa, who was born a boy. Snow sits on the floor with each child, which is not something every TV reporter would look comfortable doing.
Jacob’s parents tell Snow that as they came to grips with their child’s situation, they showed him “Raising Ryland,” a short film about a kindergarten-aged student who transitions from girl to boy. (I wrote about it here.)
Jacob was comfortable at home, but his parents had to help him realize that he could move to a new school and start fresh under his true gender identity.
In addition to the “Nightly News” report embedded above, there is also a longer look at Jacob in a 6-minute profile on NBC News’ website under the banner of “Nightly Films.”
For Malisa’s story, Snow interviews her grandfather, who happens to be U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., who took to Twitter in February to write: ""As a proud grandpa of a transgender grandchild, I hope she can feel safe at school without fear of being bullied.”
“I think that there’s a time when you have to determine when there’s a good teaching moment. And I think that was one of them,” Honda, a former teacher, says in the report.
Snow’s reports are empathetic. But aside from brief mentions of the children being in supportive school situations (and we briefly see Jacob at school), the reports don’t address controversies in some places over schools’ handling of transgender issues, including which bathrooms transgender students should be permitted to use and which prounouns will be used to refer to the students.
There is still much more for TV news to do on this story.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.