National Geographic has been around for a long time, but the organization is going to dive headfirst into 2017 with something truly groundbreaking – an issue that not only features a transgender 9-year-old on the cover, but a documentary about the changing definitions of gender around the world.
The reasons for the decisions are explained by editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg:
“National Geographic is almost 103-years-old, and we have been covering cultures, societies, and social issues for all of those years. It struck us, listening to the national conversation, that gender was at the center of so many of these issues in the news. We wanted to look at how traditional gender roles play out all over the world, but also look into gender as a spectrum. There’s lots of coverage on celebrities, but there wasn’t an understanding on real people and the issues we face every day in classrooms or workplaces in regards to gender.”
In speaking to over 100 children and teens, Goldberg said that one of the most heartbreaking things she realized was that girls overwhelmingly feel as if their potential is limited by nothing but their gender, and that fact holds true across societal, racial, and socioeconomic boundaries.
“Youths are articulate and smart and key observers, and they don’t have a social veil. They’ll tell you what they think, and that is a true reflection of how societies really are. It’s harder to get more candid responses out of adults. We wanted to understand how gender plays out in society, and what are the limits, or lack of limits, they think they have because of their gender.”
The worldwide interview process is how they met Avery Jackson, the young girl on the cover. Her mother posted this on Twitter after receiving her copy of the upcoming issue, and her father seems to have a handle on what it takes to raise a child in this brave new world.
“The one thing that I impart upon my daughter is very simple: Love yourself and show love to others. That is exactly what I intend to do. I love my daughter for who she is without preconditions, and I promise to help nurture her into becoming a happy, healthy, and productive member of society. After all, isn’t that our job as parents?”
Avery seems like a lucky, well-adjusted little girl – and the perfect ambassador to begin (or perhaps further) the kind of discussion National Geographic wants to have with the world in 2017.
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h/t: NBC News