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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that First Day is a drama about a young trans girl who enters a new school and learns to deal with her gender identity and others' rections to it. Hannah is taunted for her gender identity; though we don't hear any actual slurs, others give her cruel looks, giggle at her, and ask her rude questions. However, she finds a group of friends who support and care for her, and Hannah's courage and integrity eventually convinces some who at first oppose her to begin treating her with acceptance and affection. One character is being abused; we see bruises on her arms. Hannah's parents are careful about where she's allowed to go and who she's allowed to see, fearing for her safety. Teachers, students, and parents can be intolerant, but many learn to be more accepting of Hannah and other students who are atypical. Students talk about crushes, kissing, dating, girlfriends, and boyfriends; a boy likes Hannah and flirts with her. Hannah's family is unfailingly supportive, including her mom, dad, and older brother, all of whom treat Hannah with kindness and respect. A group of bullies taunts Hannah, but she finds a way to stand up to them without using violence. Hannah's group of best friends and the other students at the school are diverse in terms of ethnicity, race, gender, and sexual identity.
What's the story?
It's Hannah's (Evie Macdonald) FIRST DAY at a new school, and she has a secret she doesn't want the other students to know: Everyone thought she was a boy at birth, but she's really a girl, and she's finally living as the female she is inside. Terrified that she'll experience the same taunting and exclusion she experienced at her old school, she can't even be honest with her new crowd of best friends Olivia (Elena Liu), Jasmine (Arwen Diamond), and Natalie (Nandini Rajagopal). Not everyone understands Hannah, or supports her. But she's slowly, carefully, finding her way nonetheless.
Is it any good?
Tender and emotionally gripping, this lovely heartfelt drama makes us feel the courage young Hannah must gather just to be her authentic self. We see her troubles begin in a meeting with her new principal; he means to be kind, but refuses her permission to use the girls' bathroom at school because the "other parents" might be upset if a "boy" uses the girl's bathroom. "I'm not a boy!" she gets out; and that's her truth, but this is far from the first time other people have refuted it. At her old school, a set of mean classmates taunts Hannah by calling her "Tommy boy" (Thomas was her birth name), and the night before her first day of high school, she sits in her room, in floods of tears. What if her new classmates find out she was assigned the male gender at birth? What if they can somehow tell? Her mom has no answers, just love and support for her terrified daughter.
The problems Hannah faces may sound small on the surface: Can she sleep over at her friend's party? Can she go swimming without revealing her secret? What if someone sees the legal papers with her birth name on it? But First Day's power is that it helps us understand how momentous these things are to one young girl in particular: the hideous pain of being left out, feeling different, and the gorgeous power of acceptance, love, and support. Fortunately for viewers' peace of mind, Hannah ultimately experiences more of the latter than the former, and the courage and integrity this young girl shows in every situation is powerful, and beautiful to watch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about being transgender and what kinds of issues someone might face when she feels as though she were born into a body that doesn't match her internal identity. Do you understand why this person might want to change their body to match their identity? Or to change their gender presentation so that others will treat them in a way that matches their self-image?
In First Day, Hannah is afraid of coming out to the students at her school, fearing she will be teased and excluded. How could you support a friend who's coming out? What kind of support would you want if you were coming out?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love LGBTQ characters
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