In light of the recent “announcement” of Apple’s CEO Tim Cook’s gay admission and another report from NPR telling the story of a family with a 2 1/2 year old son showing signs suggesting he may be transgender, I decided to spark a conversation with my husband. What if our child was transgender? I knew where I stood on the subject, but then again I am a woman and I feel that women tend to be slightly more open minded. How is that for gender generalization? Ask a man if he would care if his male child wanted to wear dresses to school and you might be in for a fight, even in this day and age.
So, as we are having this conversation about our possible future children, and trust me that is still up for debate in our house, I wonder how many others have talked about it. We look for a partner in life that shares our same values and conversations normally occur about what kind of schools, or discipline or nutrition we want to implement in our parenting, but how often do we talk about gender or sexual preference. Now, I want you to know straight away that I am a huge supporter of the LGBT community and so is my husband. So, please forgive me if I reference something wrong or use words like “preference”, it’s not an intention of suggesting it’s a choice, so whatever your perspective, excuse my language use. Anywho, as expected when I approached the subject with my husband of our 2 year old boy possibly wanting to start wearing dresses instead of pants, he was a bit apprehensive. He put down his game controller (indicating he was really listening) and said “well, I feel like 2 is a little young and the back lash from school and other parents could cause reall damage, I’d like to wait until he was a little older, but if it was consistent and important to him, I’d let him, eh but not at 2”. This was not the answer I wanted, but it did bring something to the surface I’d hated to admit might be true. Did it cause damage due to society pressure? Was it wrong to encourage if there was a interest expressed?
I am the kind of person who wouldn’t think twice if my son wanted to go to school in a dress, even at 2. I’d probably say “ok, that sounds like fun”. I mean, what is gender if not just a society perspective on how we should act and dress as “men” and “women”. No one said women have to wear dresses, have long hair and play with Barbie’s. No one said that boys have short hair, wear pants and play with trucks. However, somehow as a society we have come to view this as the “right” way of doing things in our current gender roles. I really have no idea why this is and until now have never given much thought to it, sadly. In a society that is finally slowly starting to shift their perspective on the subject and more and more people are starting to become more and more comfortable with the idea, it seems to me this should start to become more and more of a “normal” conversation, right? Maybe my children will be lucky enough to grow up in a world where a major CEO being gay isn’t news worthy anymore. I want to be prepared for that day and I want to make sure I am doing the “right” thing to encourage the natural growth and individualism of my child. However, my husband brings up a good point too. What if my children are not privileged enough to be part of such an accepting society? What if it takes us even more years to get to that point? I really struggle with this. I think for boys in particular at an early age this might be more difficult. No one really questions a little girl that’s a tom boy and likes to play in dirt, but a little boy in a dress is like catastrophic for some reason.
In the end, the conversation might not even come up, but I want to be prepared if it does come up and I want my husband and I to be loving and open to our children (if we have any, ahh). Just as importantly, if the conversation comes up about a friend of our child in this situation, I want my child to be just and open and loving to them. However, not everyone shares my sentiments on this and I think it’s important that we get really clear in our relationships on where we stand on the matter. You’re entitled to your opinion and so is your partner, but if you can’t come to some kind of common ground on this, you’re going to run into issues and ultimately become divided as a family, which sadly is the case all too often. If you do not share my perspective, I encourage you to give some real thought and soul searching to your resistance. The reasons why you resist the idea have everything to do with you and nothing to do with anyone else, so food for thought. Anyway, I am by no means an expert in the area and of course I am not claiming to be, but I just thought it would be interesting to put this thought into the world and encourage couples to have the conversation as freely with your partner as you do the color of the nursery. Because it’s important. I was lucky enough to grow up in a very accepting family and I’m thankful for that. I want to create that for my children, I want them not to be afraid to talk about it. I want them to show love to everyone and I hope that one day this is the new normal and that it will no longer require pondering how to approach the converstation or what implications will come as a result. Until then, I am happy that my husband and I are loving and open enough with each other and with the world to have an honest debate on the matter. Can you?