Friday, June 6, 2014

Just Let Him Be A Boy

Parents face hard decisions every day when it comes to raising their children. None of us can really know what we do in situtations that we've never even imagined could happen. Most people have probably seen the video of the transgender child and his family that has been circling the web. I personally hate watching video news stories, and every time I saw this topic posted somewhere it linked to a video that I had no desire to watch (it doesn't help that I am usually using my phone to browse the internet and for whatever reason my phone doesn't play sound, thanks Apple.) Finally, I came across an actual article that outlined some of the main points of the video. I tried really hard to not make any judgements until I actually knew the story, but my first inclination was to think that this is a 5 or 6 year old kid, how can anyone at that age really know what their "gender identity" is? Are we seriously that focused on this idea of gender identity that we are allowing very young children to make life-changing decisions about theirs? Can't we just let kids be kids?

After finally reading the article, my views have changed a bit. I admit, I have zero experience with a "gender identity crisis". The only time I have ever wanted to be a boy is when I was camping and really didn't want to venture into the woods by myself to pee (who KNOWS what you might accidentally squat on out there!). Ok, and roughly every 23 days I curse being born a woman but that feeling is fleeting. I have no idea what it feels like to be unhappy in the skin you were born with. The little boy in this story was born a girl, and it devastated him. No, I don't think he is old enough to really know what he wants for the rest of his life, but right now he wants to be a boy and his parents are letting him. He may very well decide 10 years from now that he does actually identify as a girl. The outcome of this child's life has yet to be determined. His parents have chosen to love and support him no matter what, and I think that's a beautiful thing. I would probably not have made the same decision if this had been my child, but as a general rule of them I try not to giving a shit what other people do with their personal lives, and I try even harder to not judge other parents the decisions they make regarding their own children. This child isn't in any danger, his parents aren't hurting him. I'm pretty sure you can't over-love your kids.

As with most things posted on the internet, it is what is found in the comments section that is truly infuriating. There a few things in particular that I want to address. 1st of all, a lot of people are totally freaking out because he is so young and might change his mind and his parents have ruined that. Uh, they cut his hair, redecorated his room, and starting referring to him as "him" instead of "her". OH MY GOD HOW WILL THEY EVER UNDO THAT IF HE CHANGES HIS MIND?! Hair grows back, rooms can be redecorated. No permanent changes were made to this child's body. I feel like that needs to be repeated: No permanent changes were made to this child's body. If his parents had taken such drastic measures I would probably not be sitting here defending their decision, but they didn't so here I am. Other people are pointing out the glaringly obvious; that he doesn't have a penis. He is going to know that he still isn't really a boy. And while that is obviously true, it's probably a pretty irrelevant fact to a 6 year old. As puberty hits and he is very much a girl physically, it may become a problem, but these parents will figure out the best way to address this when the time comes. What is a fact in this child's life is that his parents love him and want what is best for him, and he will always know that. If he decides later in life that he wants to go back to being a girl, his years spent living as a boy will not negatively affect him. If he continues to identify as a boy he won't face the same hardships as other people in his position because he will already know that he has the support of his family. The other popular comment on this story is that "he is just a kid, how does he know what he wants? His parents are setting a precident by allowing him to get his way". Erroneous. Erroneous on all accounts. Have these people ever met a child? Children know what they want, and it is damn near impossible to change their minds. Eventually, children get older and they change their preferrences, but sometimes they really know what they want and that want only gets stronger as they get older. Some of our childhood wishes seem utterly ridiculous to our parents, but they let us dream because they are certain we will grow out of them, and when we don't, it only confirms that they did the right thing by allowing us to dream. While most of those childhood dreams we have are completely unattainable, we would jump at the chance to have them come to fruition. This child wants to be a little boy, and that is a dream that is completely possible to fulfill. Why deny him his greatest desire simply because we don't understand what it is like to be in his shoes? And them giving him this doesn't mean he gets everything he wants or that he know calls the shots. Sometimes kids do get want they want, all parents at some point give in to their kids. Unless they are also letting him eat oreos every day for breakfast and stay up til midnight I'm guessing this child doesn't think he rules the roost.

The last thing I want to say about this is that while I understand why these parents did what they did and I hope that this little boy finds the happiness he is looking for, I'm dismayed that it was necessary. Why can't kids just be who they want to be without all the hubbub? Why can't little girls cut their hair and wear suits and sleep on spiderman sheets, but still be little girls? Why can't boys want to wear a pretty dress and Sofia the First shoes without being judged? He hated that he was a girl and not a boy, why does being born with the wrong equipment make you something you don't want to be? I'm not one of those wackos that thinks all things should be gender neutral, and I have certainly steered my children in certain directions based on their gender, but I'm also going to let them be who they want to be. If my son wants to wear pink, for the love of God I'll let him wear pink. Sometimes there are battles not worth fighting.

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