A reader writes:
The comment from your reader who was a butch little girl broke my heart a little. I have an8 year old who is a little gender-queer, but not trans, and probably not gay, and he had a terrible time at school this year. My son is an awesome kid – sweet, smart, and funny. He is both one of the butchest boys I know and one of the most gender-queer. He truly has no regard for gendered clothing, shows, or interests. He loves karate and superheroes and video games and Spongebob and Star Wars: Clone Wars. He also loves sparkly, brightly colored clothing and nail polish and hair color and My Little Ponies and Tinker Bell. He has been both Samurai Jack for Halloween and a fairy. He plays with girls and boys.
This year, I allowed him to paint his nails black and orange just before Halloween. I didn’t think anything about it. It was the week before Halloween! His second grade classmates taunted him for it and called him a girl. One of them punched him in the balls. None of the boys would play with him any more. Only one girl would play with him. My son has a rebellious streak and decided to respond by bringing “girl books” to school and wearing pink shirts and more fingernail polish. The bullying continued. Despite an anti-bullying policy, the school’s main intervention was to advise us to get him to tone down the gender non-conformity. We did, but I can’t help but think that the message that my son got was that gender bullying is okay and that it was somehow his fault if someone bullies him for being a nonconformist.
We’re transferring schools this year. I can’t take it and my son shouldn’t have to.
I’m now a 60-year-old gay man, partnered for almost 25 years and living a reasonably happy life. When I was little, I was a mama’s boy and definitely not considered a typical boy.
I played with dolls, like to dress up and loved doing whatever Mom was doing. In my baby book, Mom even recorded my atypical personality at the age of three, “Ricke is still a little girl at heart.” I knew that I was different from my other little male friends, but it didn’t seem to make much difference until about 3rd grade. It was then that I began to be bullied at school for being a sissy. Feeling miserable and lonely, I began to pray nightly that God would change me into a girl during the night and that I’d wake up feeling that everything in my life would be OK. That was the only solution that came to my young mind back in the 1950s. I knew nothing about homosexuality and on my own, couldn’t see any other way for me to fit in.
Well, that obviously didn’t happen. In high school I began to understand that I was gay and by college fully accepted it and began to live my life. I grew up to be a man who can take care of himself. Thanks to Mom, I can cook, bake, iron, sew, knit, hang wallpaper, paint a room or an entire house, and in general do what needs to be done. But it does make me wonder about the current trend toward diagnosing transsexualism in young children. I certainly don’t feel like a woman trapped in a man’s body now.
I am really appreciating all of the posts you’ve had in the last year or so on trans experiences. I don’t recall there being so many in the past, and your uptick coincides with my own son’s transition (from Laura to Lucas). I’ve also become acquainted with a young woman at our church who has a young son who is a “princess boy.” She is very supportive, but her ex-husband is So Very Not. I’ve been passing on all of your posts to her and they have been very helpful. So thank you on behalf of both of us, plus the many other family members and friends who have also found various of your posts so enlightening.