GDI Interview: Tina Howard

Where did the inspiration to start the GDI come from?

 I am raising gender non-conforming children. I am in community with other parents doing the same. On several occasions my youngest was the subject of students questions/ challenges about her ‘sex’. This led to her feeling she needed to ‘prove’ she was a girl. She was told by some older boys that there was “only ‘one way to prove she was a girl” and exposed her genitals on the playground. When the incident (one of many) at her previous school was brought to the attention of the school leadership they simply did not have the knowledge or capacity to manage it. This was one of several incidents at that school in on academic year including a teacher sending home a letter to the parents of a trans student outing the child and reassuring the parents that the kids were fine because the school counselor had read “ I am Jazz” to the class.

What is your long term vision for the GDI? 

My hope is that, with the help of the educators in the working group, we can develop a set of trainings that can be delivered to folks in all types of learning spaces that are compassionate and current that make the learning place safer for queer kids. When the most vulnerable are safer all kids are safer.

What motivates you to participate in the GDI? 

My kids, my community, my own childhood being queer ( a word i did not know) in small town bible belt. I do not want queer youth to be seen as a problem to solve.

Have there been any LGBTQ resources that have supported you or helped shape the GDI?

My kids and my community. I think listening to youth, following their lead, is the path to success in this endeavor.

If you could choose a theme song for the GDI what would it be?

Freedom by George Michael….too on the nose?

If you could have any animal for a pet, what would it be?

Hedgehog….no…an otter….uhm…no…a Fennec Fox. Okay, I am unable to answer this one.

Tina Howard (she/her/hers) grew up in small town Iowa surrounded by strong vocal women. After studying dance and theater in 1985, Tina has immersed herself in community activism, including outreach for edible garden building in NYC, starting GirlsRock!Chicago a Rock n’ Roll camp for girls, and the wonderful work she does for GDI and operations at Kore Press. Tina loves the words and music and movement of women, and has a particular interest in Trans and Migrant issues.