Wednesday, February 3

Gender bender

A recent concern around our house...well, a recently addressed concern. Egan has been cross dressing and accessorizing since he could hold a spoon.

This recent piece of familial history comes from Egan's love of his purple sparkly hand-me-down dance recital tutu, affinity for accessorizing, admiration of his aunt's redder than red lipstick, his longing for dancin' shoes like mine, and currently his Valentine Barbie. Egan's biggest critic right now is his brother Gil.

Evidently Gil's masculinity is somehow challenged by his four-year-old brother. Gil is quite assertively educating his brother on Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, Male and Female: "Egan, boys don't wear dresses!" and saying things like, "He can't play with THAT! He's a BOY!!"

To that, Egan says, "Yes. I am a boy."

Lucky for Egan, his mother is one to encourage exploration of different nailpolish colors and textures of taffeta regardless of whether you have a penis or a vagina. What's the big deal if Egan races for his various princess attire, leaving his boy clothes in a heap on his bedroom floor? What if I told you I'd rather have a well-adjusted confident kid than a resentful and repressed mess of insecurties? What if he simultaneously carried a semi-automatic sawed-off shotgun?

Rest assured, he has been known to beg for his purple sparkly dress before plopping down for hours of Power Ranger entertainment while clutching as many Matchbox cars as possible. Does that make you feel better?

I said, DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER. Because this is about you, you know. You and your various hang-ups about what is and what should be. About calling a four-year-old a deviant for feeling good, having fun, and being himself.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Egan's supposed "confusion" comes from his "gender identity disorder." There is a diagnosis, you guys, a diagnosis! for CHILDREN!! who choose to do the very activities Egan longs for on a daily basis. This is considered a disorder in our culture. HE'S FOUR!

Who made this shit up anyway? We are swayed, people, programmed by societal norms. Stuffy fucking WASPy norms created by narrow minded homophobes and heterosexists fearful of anything other than themselves. We oughtta be ashamed.

There are many innate gender expectations that just happen. Boys do more often than not go to cars and trucks and guns while girls have an interest in dolls and role playing a family. When a boy wants to dress up in sparkly dresses and paint his nails, or a young girl decides tubesocks with baggy basketball shorts and tennies is what makes her comfortable, who are we to have an opinion one way or the other?

I encourage my boys, and Allie, to express themselves. Label their emotions. Cry if you have to. And if wearing a crown, clip on earrings, a princess dress, and dancin' shoes helps? Go for it.


Rob and Meg said...

well...many things come to mind while reading this. LOL.

You are a kickass mom. Doing the right thing! He will be so well adjusted and that is all parents should want. Suppression and weirdo guilt that comes from parents own insecurities and/or their own fucked up minds is really a bad move. And OH do i know. He's FOUR!

Carol said...

I laugh. I love Egan's way. Go on with his bad self, Valentine Barbie and all.
Yesterday Hank pretended to apply lipstick with a carrot. :)

lapsan said...

I probably had that "problem" when I was a kid, always interested in "boy stuff."

Frances has tons of dress up, and spends much of her time either wearing it (not necessarily the dresses) or naked. Egan can come play anytime! They can do their thing, and we can do ours.