Gender…Here, There & Queer

Despite the confusion that others may have surrounding EZ’s gender, he (as of now) is 100% certain of his gender. Regardless of his penchant for pink, purple, princesses or polished nails, he is a boy. He feels like a boy, he digs his boy parts, and he is more than happy to let you know that he’s all about being a boy.

For others, however, it’s not that simple. So when folks seems to have trouble dealing with EZ’s mild (in my opinion) blurring of gender lines, it always makes me wonder how those truly living with gender identity issues deal with others insecurities or strict definitions of gender.

The amount of research and personal stories on being genderqueer, while limited, continues to grow. Perhaps by talking more about this issue, we can begin to normalize it, so that society as a whole can better “handle” it, and those who are genderqueer can feel more comfortable and supported.

Just this week, s.e. smith wrote a fantastic piece on being genderqueer for the website, xojane. It’s not a primer on being genderqueer, by any means, but it is an excellent, accessible place to start for those interested in educating themselves.

* * *

This past summer saw the 5th annual Gender Spectrum Family Conference in Berkeley, CA. The conference celebrates gender inclusiveness for kids and teens, and was created to help families with transgender and gender non-conforming children. They offer programming and workshops for adults and kids, offering space and support that these families might not receive in their daily lives.

The conference was highlighted by CNN in a short video clip.

As I watched the video, I ran through a range of emotions. I nodded in agreement with Tammy’s mother as she shared, “If you give your child the opportunity to be who they are, they know very well who they are.” This rings true, especially for me, as I watch EZ know and feel comfortable being a boy, even as he runs around pretending to be a butterfly or princess. I can only imagine how much harder it is to remember this sentiment if my child were uncomfortable in his own body.

My heart ached as I watched the pain, clearly visible on Mario’s face, as he talks about who he is and who people know him to be. And my heart did a little fist pump as his mom champions him on, despite her own internal struggle with it all.

Gender isn’t as simple as one or the other. There is a fluidity and flexibility about it that many people have a hard time accepting. But perhaps by bringing this topic to the forefront we can work through the uncomfortable parts. So…let’s keep talking about it. Let’s continue the discussion surrounding the complexity that is gender, in hopes of redefining it and coming up with a new sense of “normal.”

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6 thoughts on “Gender…Here, There & Queer

  1. I, too,have a princess-boy. At 11, his interests have become more varied, but as a toddler, and up until about age 9, he was much more comfortable doing girly things than boys things. Since he is my third boy (no girls in the house except me) it’s obvious it came from inside him.

    I never had a problem if he wanted his nails polished or pink shoelaces. But I ached knowing the pain and ridicule he faced from others.

    • “But I ached knowing the pain and ridicule he faced from others.” <–I think for me, as a mom, this is the trickiest part of the whole thing. It's one thing for me to preach acceptance and tolerance and a "if you don't like it, eff you" sort of attitude, but when reality hits, and there are actual people attacking/bullying/demeaning *my* son for his choices, sticking to my convictions/beliefs get tested. Thankfully, we live in our little liberal bubble and have yet to really encounter mean-spirited commentary. Mostly reaction is spurred by curiosity or intrigue. And (so far) any negative comments have either been missed by EZ or gone over his head. However, at almost 5, I know that won't last long, and while I'm confident of the values and ideals I've instilled in him, it's still hard as mom to see your kid hurt for any reason.

  2. More from me… schools here require uniforms for all, so my Little Guy’s princess tendencies didn’t manifest much at school, which (I’m kind of ashamed to admit) I took as a blessing, because his skin wasn’t thick enough at age 7 or 8 to handle the kind of bullying he was destined to face.

    At 11 now, he’s fairly well-rounded. He runs cross country for his school, yet still rocks out to Pink on his iPod.

    And he knows that there is NOTHING he can be that will make me think he is less than perfect.

  3. I expect that I will fly into a homicidal rage the first time someone tells my kid they can’t like what they want to like, or that “xyz is for ______.” It won’t be pretty. I’ll probably make the news. I should start saving for bail now.

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