Androgynous Pat to the extreme

I must admit that when I first read this article about “Pop”, a Swedish child whose gender is not being revealed by his/her parents, I was irritated. This experiment is designed to put nurture/nature to the test, by allowing Pop to become whatever gender he/she likes. While I really don’t think it’s wise to use one’s own child as an experiment and was ready to get on the bash the idiot parent wagon, but it is sort of interesting how irritated it makes people when they don’t know one’s gender.

And why do we care anyway? Technically, the child is not being harmed by being allowed to pick whatever toys and clothing he/she wants, and he/she wants to wear both on different occasions. But my more cynical side tells me that the parents might be creating a naivete that could hurt the child in the long run by not allowing them to know that a little boy wearing lipstick in math might have a impact on his social life that he didn’t expect when he was enjoying trying it on.

As much fun as it might be to do “girly” with my son one of these days, I have heard stories from personal friends that it was a terrible idea for their parents to allow, for example, a thirteen year old boy to highlight his hair in 1989. “What was she thinking?” He fumes, “I had football players spitting on my car”. But maybe this was a gay thing and not a gender thing. I am politically incorrect again, sorry, just not sure what it all means.

I noticed recently how annoyed people became when a mother to be would not reveal the sex of her baby. Didn’t she know how much cute stuff is boy OR girl? Green is way too ambivalent! Being a lover of pink myself, and a somewhat fastidious accessorizer, have nearly eschewed pink altogether, lest my very masculine diaper bag clash. A lover of color should probably be more liberal in their attitude toward this subject but I confess I am a true pedestrian. Blue is for boys. Pink is for girls.

So I wonder: will the Critter go to Beverly High with kids who have no discernible gender identity? And will they be cool with that in the way that now young people are (mostly) cool with gay people? Will I be going to a PTA meeting with whole families whose gender is not detectable? What will that be like? Will boys who like to wear dresses not get beat up anymore? What if my kid is the kid wearing the dress? The places my mind goes during naptime…

2 Responses to “Androgynous Pat to the extreme”

  1. Aunt Bea Says:

    Visit Aunt Bea

    I love all of this, especially your commentary. As one without chirren (alas, as you know, I’ve been barren for years), i continue to be amazed and bewildered at what it takes to be a parent – these days, in particular. To have all the expected daily challenges, to endure the many unexpected dramas, and to now have the above reality thrown into the mix – well, i just cannot wrap my pretty, petite head around it.

    I do think that the above issues and questions you raised will be relevant in the coming years. And as an outsider looking in, I cannot imagine how a parent will navigate this new territory, much less address the age old “birds and the bees” talk that most of us never heard anyway. I think the lines are going to become so blurred and crossed and confusing that instead of a talk, an online video series will be necessary – letting parents off the hook once and for all. I see Sharon Osbourne narrating.

    It is interesting to me that while I want gender identity and one’s sexuality to be a non-issue, I am torn when it comes to the impact of the gender identity label. Growing up gay puts a unique spin on my perspective, but growing up transgendered would spin it differently… So why do I think this – why do i have different views on these labels – I don’t know. Why do I want to consume an entire bag of potato chips right now just thinking about all this… i don’t know. I have always been intrigued with transgendered people, I’ve known transgendered people, and I consume every television show on this topic…

    Regarding expectations, I do know that from an early age, I knew what I was supposed to play with and what was unacceptable for a boy to deem important or interesting… so at a certain point I asked for, and received the G.I. Joe doll. And upon his arrival, I remember sitting on my bedroom floor, taking him out of the box, and staring at him and thinking to myself, “I don’t want this – he comes with a gun! yuck!”… But I played with him and made him slide down the string that I connected from my curtain rod to the heavy book on the floor… because I knew it was expected, I guess. So many more examples of that growing up…. weird to revisit all this in my mind now….

    I do know that growing up and attempting to meet other people’s/society’s definitions of acceptability wasn’t the healthiest way to grow up – it had a tremendous negative effect on me. I cannot imagine how it is for a transgendered person – maybe that’s my problem. I do wish I had experienced a more open, non-judgmental youth – and that I could have felt inside myself that I had the freedom to be who I wanted to be without repercussions… It would have truly changed my world then – and now.

    Of course, attending a Southern Baptist church every Sunday didn’t help. But as you know, I had Ward and June Cleaver for parents – who adopted me as a baby and adored me beyond my wildest expectations… We never addressed the big rainbow elephant in the room, because if one doesn’t address it, it is not there. I learned that quickly from my religion. That, in itself, was a daily excruciating pressure. And although I grew up knowing that my sweet Southern Baptist parents would not disown me if I stepped into my truth, the fear and pain of growing up with all the other pressures associated with being a gay kid pretty much paralyzed me in so many ways. I cannot imagine having the added knowledge that I could be thrown out on the streets and disowned if my parents discovered my true self, as so many youth – especially trans youth – have to go through. I know for a fact I would not be alive today if that single added pressure was included in my history.

    So I think that lines need to be blurred and I think that labels need to be gone but like you, this issue raises so many questions for me with no concrete conclusions on the horizon… and I’m single! I cannot fathom all of this churning around in my head as a parent. So God bless parents – the old ones and the new ones and ones to come…

    I think you all deserve a gold star sticker with an A+ beside it – in red ink – if for nothing more, then at least for courage.

  2. Sarita Says:

    Visit Sarita

    Thanks for the post. But after reading this post, I really didn't understood the topic. I need more explanation. Please help me out to know this. 🙂