by Jason Kuznicki
The night before Susan and Rob allowed their son to go to preschool in a dress, they sent an e-mail to parents of his classmates. Alex, they wrote, “has been gender-fluid for as long as we can remember, and at the moment he is equally passionate about and identified with soccer players and princesses, superheroes and ballerinas (not to mention lava and unicorns, dinosaurs and glitter rainbows).” They explained that Alex had recently become inconsolable about his parents’ ban on wearing dresses beyond dress-up time…
Many parents and clinicians now reject corrective therapy, making this the first generation to allow boys to openly play and dress (to varying degrees) in ways previously restricted to girls — to exist in what one psychologist called “that middle space” between traditional boyhood and traditional girlhood. These parents have drawn courage from a burgeoning Internet community of like-minded folk whose sons identify as boys but wear tiaras and tote unicorn backpacks. Even transgender people preserve the traditional binary gender division: born in one and belonging in the other. But the parents of boys in that middle space argue that gender is a spectrum rather than two opposing categories, neither of which any real man or woman precisely fits.
Yes, parents often face a stark choice — either coerce the little ones or stop being parents. Libertarian theories about coercion and rights and such were designed for a community of adults, and they don’t translate so easily into advice about parenting. They weren’t intended to.
But if parental coercion isn’t necessary, then why shouldn’t it be rejected? There are few things less obviously harmful to a child than wearing a dress. I mean, my daughter does it all the time… when she’s not wearing a skirt, or pants.
Anyway, the story’s a long read, but I’d be very interested to discuss it with the other guest bloggers and commenters here.