Meet Avery, the 9-year-old transgender girl who made it to the cover of National Geographic

Avery told her mother that she identified as female when she was only three years old.
Meet Avery, the 9-year-old transgender girl who made it to the cover of National Geographic
Meet Avery, the 9-year-old transgender girl who made it to the cover of National Geographic
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In a first for the National Geographic magazine, its January issue will feature Avery Jackson, a nine-year-old transgender girl, on the cover page.

Avery hails from Kansas City. Assigned the male sex at birth, Avery told her mother Debi that she identified as female when she was three and has been living as an openly transgender girl since she was five. The cover quotes Avery as saying: “The best thing about being a girl is, now I don’t have to pretend to be a boy.”

The years before Avery came out as openly transgender were marked by deep unhappiness. So much so, that Debi used to hide the knives and scissors at home lest Avery harmed herself, according to a Kerry Mcdermott’s report in Daily Mail. Avery would even ask what would happen if she jumped out of a moving vehicle.

Debi took to Facebook now to express her joy at Avery making the cover of the National Geographic. 

But the journey from then to now has not been bereft of challenges for Avery and her family. Avery was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. And when she began going to school dressed in girls’ clothing in 2012, she was subjected to bullying, compelling her parents to home-school her. They also lost many friends and family as a result of Avery’s openly transgender identity.

However, Avery was happy she could be herself. Debi told Daily Mail that Avery will start taking hormone blockers when she reaches puberty. The family is open to surgery too, if Avery wishes to take that route in the future.  

This is not the first time however that Avery has worked to make the transgender community visible. Last year, Avery narrated her story in a video. She begins by saying that she likes climbing trees, being a ninja and adds, “And, oh yeah, I’m transgender.” Watch it here:

With remarkable articulation for someone so young, Avery explains in the video her fears when she decided to tell her parents that she identified as a girl. She thought they wouldn’t love her, that they would throw her out or not give her food. She finally decided to tell her mom and dad because she “just could not hold it in.” 

“It was so hard to not be who I really was and have everyone treat me like a boy, when I was really a girl,” Avery says.

Avery is one of the many children featured in the issue, which is called “Gender Revolution”. Expected to hit the stands on December 27, it will look at “cultural, social, biological and personal aspects of gender”, according to a press release. The cover story, “I am nine years old”, features children from 80 households across four continents who speak on how gender affects their lives.

While many of these kids admitted that it was hard for them to fit into their communities and the roles they are expected to play (a young boy from Mumbai says that the worst thing about being a boy is being expected to join the other boys in “eve-teasing”), others, like Avery, were happily breaking gender stereotypes. Overall, girls saw their gender as much more of an impediment than boys did. 

In an article titled “Why we decided to put a transgender girl on the cover of National Geographic”, Susan Goldberg, editor-in-chief, says that youngsters worldwide face challenges which have grown with the digital age. “We hope these stories about gender will spark thoughtful conversations about how far we have come on this topic—and how far we have left to go,” she adds.

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