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The Day Has Come

I had a short talk today with the preschool teachers about Simone's declarations of gender and how they should handle that. To their everlasting credit, they wanted specifically to know how we handled it so that they could mirror it at school. Apparently the occasion was a series of arguments Simone had today with other, older kids about whether she was really a boy -- culminating in an "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" session in the bathroom.

I told the teacher that we basically reflect back whatever she tells us about her identity, so we say "yes, she's a boy" and then field questions a la my previous post. And I added that we usually say that what's in your pants doesn't matter and should stay private. They all have communal bathrooms, though, so I doubt that last one will stick much.

I also talked to Simone after school in an attempt to arm her with more vocabulary and tactics. I told her that her parents and sister and Shayna all understand that she's a boy every day and that we knew that you didn't need a penis to be a boy -- in fact we know some boys who don't have penises. But other people -- especially other kids, I emphasized -- don't always know that and they can get confused. So she might try telling those people she was a boy-girl and see if it helped them to understand. She didn't have to, but she could try it. We would still know she was just a boy.

"So I could be both!" she said brightly. "I am a boy and I am a boy-girl!"

"Yes!" I said. "Sort of like how I can be a girl and a boy-girl." And then we walked down the hill for some ice cream.

Also reiterated clearly: she is my daughter, she prefers "she," she is April's brother (and wants to be the only brother! No, April, you can't be a brother too, not even for pretend! My reply: tough.). OK then.
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I have to say, the things you write about Simone make me feel like I'm less crazy.
OK, my development classes are 2-5 on Tuesdays starting in late August. I still have to draft my syllabus but I will totally send you some ideas for dates and pay you an honorarium to come in and talk. This is awesome stuff you're doing as a parent.
It's totally fascinating to read how you deal with this stuff. 99 out of 100 parents I know would probably say "You know what, kiddo? You're a girl. G-I-R-L. Deal with that." And then another 50 might say, "And if you want to change that we're going to have to talk about it when you're older." But I think you're the only one who will just go with it when she's 4.
Well, I'm not the only parent I know :) But I do feel kind of...lonely in this sometimes.

The part that I'm leaving out of all these posts is that I don't necessarily think that gender identity, especially in children this young, is always fixed. (I don't talk about it in part because I don't want to encourage "it's just a phase" dismissive thinking in myself or other people.) I mean, I don't even think it's always clear to the kids in question, or that they're using their limited vocabulary about gender in the same way adults do.

I think it's a fallacy, in other words, to assume either that she's going to continue to identify as a boy, or to assume that she's not. It could go either way. The thing is, it's not my job to figure out or influence things in either direction. My responsibility as a parent as I see it is to listen to her, respect and support her choices *now* -- in particular, act as her advocate with other kids and other adults -- and also to keep her options open for the future.

Sorry for the LOLism but it's fitting

Parenting: UR DOIN IT RITE!

Re: Sorry for the LOLism but it's fitting

Aw. Thanks.

Re: Sorry for the LOLism but it's fitting

It really is fitting. Brava, Lori. Seriously--I've got tears in my eyes right now.
SO.
MUCH.
WINNING.
this is.
She's remarkably clear; did you ask her directly about the pronouns? (That's been a great uncertainty with the 7yo.)
I asked "Should I say she or should I say he?" And she said "she," but I'm not 100% sure she understood what I was getting at. OTOH she doesn't correct me.