Posts Tagged "gender identity"
  1. link
    Feb 11, 2013 4:22 pm
  2. photo
    Jan 06, 2013 6:55 pm
  3. text
    Oct 02, 2012 9:37 pm

    My Son Draws Himself As A Girl


    Today my son drew himself as a boy for the first time in his life.  He’s five and a half years old.  For that many years, when he has drawn himself, he has drawn himself as a girl.

    In the mediums of crayon, colored pencil and marker, our son is a beautiful girl with long red hair, a big puffy ball gown the color of cotton candy and a tiara with a gigantic heart-shaped stone front and center.  Sometimes he’s a sassy girl in a jean skirt, black leather jacket and knee-high boots.  Sometimes he’s a girl going to school in a hot-pink t-shirt dress and purple high top sneakers with turquoise socks peaking out.

    It took his dad and me a while to get used to seeing our son’s self-portraits.  For a long time there was the urge to correct him, to remind him that he is a boy and his renderings weren’t accurate.  We fought that urge until it wasn’t there anymore.  Feelings of uneasiness popped up in us here and there when it was time for arts and crafts, especially when there were other people around.  I’ve had to remind myself that you never tell an artist that his or her art is bad or wrong — art can’t be those two things (especially when you are five).

    Being acutely aware that children who continually, over an extended period of time draw themselves as the opposite sex are more likely to be transgender, we have always wondered if and when the day would come when our boy would draw himself as a boy looking like a boy.  We imagined that if it ever happened we would feel a sense of relief and happiness.  Then, it happened and we were nothing but sad.

    C.J. has just started kindergarten and at his school every kindergartner is matched up with a “Kinderbuddy,” an older student at the school who will see C.J. on a regular basis throughout the year to read to him, play with him and mentor him.  Hopefully they will have a mutually beneficial and special relationship.

    Because the school tries to match up Kinderbuddies based on sex/gender, C.J.’s Kinderbuddy is a boy.  Because C.J.’s sex and gender aren’t in total alignment, that process for matching up Kinderbuddies isn’t exactly ideal.

    On their first day of meeting, the Kinderbuddies had to sit together and draw a picture of themselves together.  That’s when it happened; C.J. drew himself as a boy next to his boy Kinderbuddy.

    “Mommy, I got a Kinderbuddy today.  And, he’s so cool!  He’s a teenager!” C.J. said after school.  By “teenager” he meant “sixth grader.”

    He showed us the picture that they had drawn together.  We didn’t recognize our son.  We looked at each other in shock.

    “Hey, Buddy…how come you drew yourself as a boy?” C.J.’s Dad asked casually.

    “Oh, that’s because I didn’t want my Kinderbuddy to know that I like girl stuff,” C.J. said matter-of-factly.

    Our hearts sank.  We had always thought that things would feel more right, more normal, on the day that C.J. finally drew himself as a boy, but things didn’t.  Things felt sad because our son had to do it out of self-preservation.  He did it to adapt and conform.  He did it to hide his true self.  It felt like he had lost some of his innocence.

    Diane Ehrensaft, an expert on raising gender nonconforming children, once wrote:

    “Gender creative children are blessed with the ability to hold on to the concept — that we all had one time in our lives — that we were free to be anything we wanted – boy, girl, maybe both.”

    With that drawing, it felt like our son was losing his grip on the concept that he is free to be anything he wants to be.  Was he losing his grip?  Or, was he tightening his grip on the concept and exercising control over when it could be on display and when it couldn’t?

    C.J. didn’t want to hang his Kinderbuddy drawing on the fridge or his bedroom door for all to see like he usually wants to do with his art.  He wanted to throw it away.

    “Why?” I asked.

    “Cause that’s not really me,” he said as he sat in the sun at our dining room table, drawing himself with a side ponytail, purple shirt with a pink heart on it and an orange skirt.

  4. link
    Jul 31, 2012 4:50 pm

    His, hers, hens: Swedes' gender-neutral push gains ground


    Sweden’s bid to ensure equality between the sexes has reached another milestone with the gender-neutral “hen” being included in the online version of the country’s National Encyclopedia.

    The pronoun was officially added to the encyclopedia this month as an alternative to the gendered pronouns “han” and “hon” (he and she), according to Slate magazine.

    The word, pronounced like the bird in English, is defined as a “proposed gender-neutral personal pronoun instead of he [han in Swedish] and she [hon]”.

    It comes as debate continues to rage in the Nordic country where activists are campaigning to obliterate gender roles.

    Breaking down gender roles is a core mission in the national curriculum for preschools, underpinned by the theory that society gives boys an unfair edge.

    Many preschools have hired “gender pedagogues” to help staff identify language and behaviour that risk reinforcing stereotypes, while at the taxpayer-funded Egalia preschool in Stockholm, staff avoid using words such as “him” or “her” and address the 33 children as “friends” rather than girls and boys.

    This month a Swedish toy catalogue published pictures of a pram-pushing Spiderman, a girl riding a toy racing car and another boy standing in front of a toy stove cooking a make-believe meal.

    Kaj Wiberg, the CEO of Leklust, the company behind the catalogue, told the Swedish newspaper Metro that it was time to move forward.

    “Gender roles are an outdated thing,” he said.

    “I’m 71 years old, and those of us who have worked in this industry for a while know that boys play with doll houses. We know that boys can play with Barbie dolls.”

    The catalogue photographs have sparked discussion on social media, including from prominent Swedish feminist blogger “Lady Dahmer” who encouraged readers to email the company to show their support.

    “The problem with toy stores and their catalogues is that they’re selling a concept, an idea about boys and girls and what kind of qualities and interests they should have,” she told the Swedish English-language newspaper The Local.

    “It’s about money because as long as they can fool us into believing boys and girls are fundamentally different, they can keep selling us twice as much.

    “Children have a strong need to fit in, not stand out. When they see what is ‘right’ for their gender, it becomes less likely that they dare to break the norms.”

    According to Slate magazine, the Swedish Bowling Association also has announced plans to merge male and female bowling tournaments to make the sport more gender-neutral.

    It comes as a publishing house releases a a children’s book, Kivi och Monster-hund (Kivi and the Monsterdog) which features the pronoun “hen” throughout. It tells the story of Kivi, who wants a dog for “hen’s” birthday.

    But not everyone is embracing the new gender-neutral terminology, Slate reports.

    Jan Guillou, one of Sweden’s most well-known authors and a critic of the new word, said in a recent interview that proponents of “hen” were “feminist activists who want to destroy our language”, Slate reported. Others said it could be psychologically and socially damaging for children.

    Between this and that national Twitter project, Sweden is fast moving up our list of countries well deserving of the highest of fives. 



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