Or "transsexual"? Or "trans"? Because you wouldn't know it from coverage of the blog post from the woman whose kid, "Boo," dressed up like Daphne from Scooby Doo.
This weekend I posted a video from CNN with a child psychologist talking about how it's every parents "worst nightmare" to have a gay child in response to Daphne's mom. Anyone worried about having a son who is not the gender they think he is?
I accept full and total complete responsibility for using that unfortunate choice of words. I think if I were able to say the other part of that, that it wouldn't come out that way. But I think that is a lesson for me to learn to be even more sensitive even though if you Google my name, you'll see anything that I've ever written or said about sexuality has always been 100% positive for whatever someone's sexuality might be. But certainly, I feel horrible about it. And I've gotten some call from some folks -- I can't talk about who they are -- but some folks who want to exploit it. Who say, "Come on and you can say what you want about it." But I say "No." I was absolutely wrong and I understand why people are upset about it and I need to learn from that situation. Again, I accept full responsibility and offer a full apology.
Was Boo's "sexuality" the story?
Here's the Today show, where a psychologist talks about whether dressing up like a girl means that a boy is "gay" and that the fundamental issue is "homophobia."
Then they did another segment with Sarah, Boo's mom. The narrating journalist says that the dress doesn't determine his "sexual orientation" and a family psychiatrist says that he's hesitant to say that dressing as Daphne will be Boo's "sexuality." The segment does mention "gender identification" and "gender confusion."
I don't really know where the expert at the end was coming from. He does make the important distinction between gender identity and gender play, saying that the former is "significant," but strangely he says a boy identifying as a girl might be related to a child's "sexuality" later on.
Anyway, I don't want to make too big a deal of this because coverage of this story has been fairly supportive, and most of the grown-ups discussing the blog post are right on the most immediate issue: Boo's five and who knows what his sexuality or gender identity will be. They're also right on the big picture: how he dresses up shouldn't lead to bullying, and if it does it says more about the bully than it does about him.
But does it strike anyone else as strange that here we are, in 2010, and the assumption they're discussing is that a boy who wears a dress at five will be gay? That seems to be the old gender-inversion paradigm that suggests that gay men are men who want to be women and, by extension, that transsexual women are just really, really gay men.
This is just me saying "hm." The coverage conflates gender and sexuality in sloppy ways in an attempt to cordon off a safe space for "kids just being kids," reminding parents that they have no reason to freak out if their son wants to put on a dress because it doesn't mean that the kid will be gay (not that that was Boo's mother's stance). But since no one's asking for Boo to be shipped off to therapy or karate lessons for putting on that Daphne costume, it's still better than most coverage of child gender/sexuality issues.