Alex Blaze

No gender policing without ninja policing

Filed By Alex Blaze | November 04, 2010 2:00 PM | comments

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Here's a great story on gender policing from a mom who took her son to preschool in a costume of Daphne from Scooby Doo:

scooby-doo-daphne.jpgTwo mothers went wide-eyed and made faces as if they smelled decomp. And I realize that my son is seeing the same thing I am. So I say, "Doesn't he look great?" And Mom A says in disgust, "Did he ask to be that?!" I say that he sure did as Halloween is the time of year that you can be whatever it is that you want to be. They continue with their nosy, probing questions as to how that was an option and didn't I try to talk him out of it. Mom B mostly just stood there in shock and dismay.

And then Mom C approaches. She had been in the main room, saw us walk in, and followed us down the hall to let me know her thoughts. And they were that I should never have 'allowed' this and thank God it wasn't next year when he was in Kindergarten since I would have had to put my foot down and 'forbidden' it. To which I calmly replied that I would do no such thing and couldn't imagine what she was talking about. She continued on and on about how mean children could be and how he would be ridiculed.

My response to that: The only people that seem to have a problem with it is their mothers.

Of course. They have to make sure their boys grow up to know what's appropriate and what's inappropriate for boys because these kids aren't born knowing gay and trans kids are inferior or that there's something wrong with dressing up in the clothes you want to wear, even apparently on Halloween.

Another mom pointed out that high schools often have Spirit Days where girls dress like boys and vice versa. I mentioned Powderpuff Games where football players dress like cheerleaders and vice versa. Or every frat boy ever in college (Mom A said that her husband was a frat boy and NEVER dressed like a woman.)

But here's the point, it is none of your damn business.

If you think that me allowing my son to be a female character for Halloween is somehow going to 'make' him gay then you are an idiot. Firstly, what a ridiculous concept. Secondly, if my son is gay, OK. I will love him no less. Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off.

The entire post is worth a read. And it's good that at least one mother at that preschool wasn't going to force gender hang-ups on her kid that won't do anything to make him a stronger or happier person when he grows up.


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Wow, I left a comment and subscribed to the comments cause I thought, why not? I've been getting about 20 comment notices per minute since then! About 300 comments in the last 14 minutes! This story is really taking off.

I recall a guy in my 3rd gade class that dressed up as Granny (Loony Toons, owner of Tweetie). He fully identifies as straight, but very friendly to LGBT individuals. No one picked on him and this was in a CATHOLIC school.

But this is clear instituionalized heterosexism. People assume we are protecting children by passing as straight, but we make it so much harder to feel accepted.

There is a truism in the trans community (and society at large) that women are much more cool with transitioners, gender variance and trans people than men are. Perhaps it comes from men perpetrating the vast majority of violence against trans people. From what I've seen... it's an urban myth.

In my experience, women are usually worse when it comes to gender policing. They tend to be more alert to these issues, feel more entitlement to inappropriately comment and also more insistent upon making a stink if they think something/someone isn't properly gendered. They're also more likely to put a nice/supportive front to your face and then stab you in the back if they don't approve of your gender expression. And, from what I've seen as a trans woman, someone who's taught elementary school and as a single parent, perceived progressiveness/conservatism often has little to do with it.

I'm glad to see this thoughtful essay and how she isn't giving the mommy club a free ride. Guess what, being a mommy doesn't give you more insight into the complexities of gender nor make you an instant expert on child rearing.

I see this problem within my own family. Acceptance of me is conditional, and certainly not total nor universal. The fact is I considered it in terms of tolerance or not most of the time as acceptance is something I have yet to see within my family. The sex of the person does not seem to matter a lot in trying to predict their being accepting, tolerant or intolerant. Age is not even a good indication. Much like the often quoted statistics in regard those who will accept or not are basically something like one in four will accept you, two in four will tolerate you, and about one in four will have nothing more to do with you.

When it comes to children however the younger they are when first exposed to someone who crosses gender lines, the less problem they have with it. Yet many parents use the children as a reason why they avoid someone who is Transgendered. They fear the idea that being Transgendered will rub off or get caught like the common cold or something. The net result of this type of action on their part makes it harder for their children to come to terms with those who blur the Gender lines after they get older. Or at least that seems to be what my observations have told me anyway.

Cathy Renna Cathy Renna | November 5, 2010 7:19 AM

As the mother of a very girly girl girl, this is a conversation we have a lot. She understands that some boys like to dress like princesses (a boy at camp this summer, who she played with a lot). And on her own she was the first to tell me I should be a prince when WE play dress-up and very generously painted my shield and sword. One of her favorite things to do is pretend to be sleeping beauty and have me come and kiss her on the forehead and wake her up.

and I made a mean Harry Potter to her super-Princess at Halloween

all that aside, we STILL need to be super intentional at times about the differences between boys and girls because this is SO insidious in our culture and media, especially as it is directed at small children.

i think this Mom was absolutely amazing in her support and her line to other parents "I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off" was brilliant

Aubrey Haltom | November 5, 2010 8:23 AM

My husband and I have a 4-year old son. One of his friends at pre-school - also a boy (a few months younger) - likes to wear dresses.

Not as 'dress up', but as daily wear. I have always loved the parents because they let their son wear whatever he wanted wherever they went.

If a kid had any question, it quickly passed ("'T' likes these clothes") and everyone went on playing. Most kids were more concerned with the colors of whatever dress 'T' was wearing.

As for parents, in the immediate community (pre-school, neighborhood) there didn't seem to be much concern. Or if any existed, it was not expressed.

Mark J. Stuart | November 5, 2010 8:28 PM

I applaud the mother for sticking up for her son to do as he wanted. Let the imagination at whatever age and for whomever run free. I saw a wonderful movie titled "Breakfast with Scot". A mae gay couple gets to care for a boy dropped off to them because the boy's mother left one of the men's brother as the person to care for the boy. And they were trying to find him.
The boy, Scot, has a flair for the eclectic. One of the gay men in the couple is a newscaster, former hockey star, and afraid people will think hm gay. Which he is. It is amazing what he goes through to tone down the boy who goes on undaunted, but liking the caretakers enough to try something different and less flashy. The funny thing is no one but this one gay man is unset by it. Not even the straight neighbors. Of course, i true Hollywood, or Vancouver, BC, style he lets the boy be himself.
The sad thing is people see bad instead of good everywhere. The alley and not the wildflowers growing through the cracks, the rain and not the rainbow. In this case their prejudices instead of a boy having fun playing. If a girl dressed as Spiderman, she would have been considered a tomboy.