Several decades of research has found that rigid, narrow codes of masculinity and femininity drive poorer reproductive and educational outcomes, homophobia and bullying, and gender-based or intimate partner violence. This can be especially true in at-risk communities, like those of color or LGBT.
To improve outcomes, there has been an increased focus on and commitment to designing "gender transformative” interventions which question, challenge and change rigid gender norms and inequities.
International agencies–like PEPFAR, UNAIDS, USAID and WHO–have already launched gender transformative initiatives and found them effective. While a few domestic organizations–like EngenderHealth, International Planned Parenthood and Population Council–have done likewise, by and large as leading authority Hortensia Amaro first observed in 1995 the US still pursues improved life outcomes for young people "in a gender vacuum.” This needs to change.
TrueChild's goal is simple: Programs and policies that address reproductive health, partner violence and gender-based bullying, and educational achievement integrate a strong, specific focus on gender norms. Because challenging and ultimately changing harmful codes of masculinity and femininity is a key to improving life outcomes, especially among at-risk adolescents and teens.
Riki's work has been profiled in The New York Times and TIME Magazine selected her one of "100 Civic Innovators for the 21st Century." The author of three books on gender theory, Riki has been published in anthologies like Feminist Frontiers, Language Awareness, and The Encyclopedia of Identity and publications like The Village Voice and Social Text. She is proud of her courageous and smart 5-year-old daughter, Dylan.