I recently listed to a Podcast about gender neutrality and it got me thinking . . .
I’ve always been a girly girl. As a child, I loved pretty dresses, black patent leather Mary Jane shoes, hair ribbons, and I adored my dolls. As a teen, I was drawn to clothes, jewelry, make up, etc. Still am. So I was never a tom boy and had no desire to go fishing, play war, etc. Part of that could have been because I was an only child with no brothers. Or…..maybe it was just my sense of self.
I recall one Christmas when I was around 5 years old. My uncle gave me a toy car. I still recall my confusion when I opened it. Even at that age, I had labeled it as a “boys toy.” But I also recall how my mother didn’t make a big deal about it. She laughed and shook her head. To this day, this remains one of those multitude of things I wish I had questioned as an adult, but didn’t. Why he would give me a car. As an adult, I have a few theories. Maybe he didn’t have money for a gift and he had received it free. Maybe he truly thought I’d enjoy playing with it. Whatever the reason, it certainly did me no harm. I didn’t play with it but it was shiny and pretty and I do remember I enjoyed looking at it on my bureau.
The couple interviewed on the Podcast had made the decision to raise their daughter as gender neutral. They wanted her to make her own choices in life, even regarding gender. To not feel boxed in. I had mixed feelings about this. They had decided no pink for her. Rather than dressing her in pastels, they chose primary colors. When she was a baby and toddler, they didn’t put her in dresses. This created a riff in the family and led to estrangement. Apparently, one of the grandmother’s would mail lovely dresses as gifts. Which got sent back. Someone in the family suggested they just take a photo of the baby in the dress, send it to the grandmother and then give away the dress. But the parents felt that was going against their principles. A bit harsh? Maybe. As a grandmother, I recall the birth of my first granddaughter and I was ecstatic. I remember being in Paris and I was so excited to purchase beautiful French dresses for my new granddaughter. So as I listened to the Podcast, I could relate to the grandmother’s disappointment.
But as I listened to the interview, I also began to understand the parents thinking. I’m not saying I agreed with it, simply that I’m a huge proponent of live and let live. They did not deny their daughter if she wanted to play with dolls. Nor did they discourage her if she preferred cars and trucks. As it turned out, her favorite forms of play were blocks, Lego’s and then books. Mom also home schooled her and they went on to have three more children. Fast forward sixteen years when the interview was being done and that daughter is now age sixteen. By the way, they had named her Isis . . . after the goddess of women who represents strength and power.
I have to say that hearing her speak there is no doubt she has grown into a very mature, articulate and well-rounded teenager. She didn’t seem to think her upbringing was odd or strange. She has a gender sense of being female but did state she’s bisexual. And when asked by the interviewer if she felt the person she has now become and her sense of self is because of how she was raised, she said she feels that she’s one-third her father, one third her mother and one third herself.
As a parent, I’d feel I had done an excellent job if my children had this sense of who they truly are. Because authenticity is what accounts for happiness . . . not how others think we should be.
See you here next time………………….