My 5-year-old daughter has referred to herself as a boy from the time she could talk. A mere taste of this: her imaginative play started at age 2 and has gone on for the next 3 years. Over all this time, never once, not with prompting or cajoling, has she so much as considered stepping into a female character. She’s adopts an average of 3-5 characters per day, which means she is about 4,000 for 4,000 in adopting boy instead of girl characters. Always a Chipmunk, never a Chippette.
After my wife and I realized the behavior was consistent and not “a phase” (and definitely not explicable as older-brother-worship), we’ve let her dress in “boyly” clothes (her word, invented at age 3), bought her boyly toys, get a boyly haircut (the “Bieb”), and have marveled at the pure delight she’s taken in this.
Cue preschool 3 months back. I’d long expected (feared?) that her immersion into the social environment of preschool would serve as a tipping point. For almost 3 years, she was happy to be a girl who was free to act/dress/play as a boy. But the other shoe was bound to drop, and sure enough, her female name and baseline female identity ran smack into the inevitable social pressures toward gender conformity…. And drop the shoe did. Last week, with maturity way beyond her years, she approached us and told us we needed to stop calling her by her birth name. We needed to use a boy name from now on. And we needed to talk to her teachers and tell them to do that, too.
With all the lead-up, with all the signs, with the writing having been so clearly on the wall… nevertheless, it’s been a surprisingly emotional hit to both my wife and me. We’ve done our research, we’ve read our books, we suspected this might come, academically. But now – shit got real.
Speaking for myself, nothing about my daughter’s transition [no – that’s not right – truthfully our daughter hasn’t changed one bit – this is “our transition”] (not even the fact that there may be mere weeks – perhaps days – separating me from ever again referring to her as “daughter” or “her”) has really been that troublesome. She’s a person of remarkable character; spirited, happy, precocious, and every kind of awesome; and nothing about this, or any changes to come, will touch that.
What has been keeping me up at night is the world that waits for her – and how it seems set to chew that up and spit it out. We’re raising her in the bible-belt, and though individuals have thus far been incredibly supportive, I’m extremely worried about how this bible-belt culture, at large, will treat a gender-creative (or possibly trans-gendered) child.
And I wake to read a post like that from DJ Grothe. And realize it’s not just the conservative Christians I’ll need to worry about. From the pit of my heart, on behalf of my daughter, who’s thus far been shielded from such hatefulness:
Fuck you, DJ. I hope you read this post, reread your words, and decide, for my daughter’s sake, to go away. Resign and go into isolation, stay away from the mic, disable your twitter feed; whatever it takes to stop injecting your poisonous hatred into the world my daughter is entering.
Frankly, it’s the only real way I can see you making the secular community a better place.