2.09.2011

Kindergarten for Queers Pt2: Tomboys

So as far as gender goes these days, girls wearing boy clothes is far less frightening or worrisome to the general public than boys who wear "girl" clothes. Or so I thought. Apparently, little girls who prefer to wear "boy" clothes, cut their hair short or whatever else finds them strying from their expected gender presentation only warrant a crisis when they belong to a celebrity. How easily it becomes to blame the parent when they fear that "mom might be making her trans".

Angelina Jolie's daughter Shiloh likes to dress like a boy, asked to have her hair cut short and generally shows early signs that she will definitely be a tomboy. She might be transgendered but at this stage the only people who likely know that for sure are Shiloh and her family. I can just imagine the scandal it will bring hopefully the family will be smart and announce it at a time when the media might be preoccupied with something and by the time they can turn their attention to the transsexual child it will already be old (and uneventfully boring) news....perhaps a royal wedding would be good timing?

Anyone who is a parent knows that you can't make your kids anything they aren't already on some level. You can't make a girl into a boy or a boy into a girl, you can't make a gay kid straight, you can't make a really introverted kid an extrovert. You can't turn water into wine or loaves into fishes nor should you try. Kids are going to be who they are and all you can do is help them polish what is good to make them shine. Teach them to be good, understanding people and whether they are an athlete or zookeeper, gay, fat, super-smart, or just a really enthusiastic cheerleader they will turn out allright. Straight parents raise gay kids, gay parents raise straight kids, athletes raise couch potatoes and ministers raise atheists - that's the best thing about kids I think....they keep you guessing.

As a kid I know what it was like to be different and to feel different from other little girls. I was always angry and frustrated when I would hear things like: Every little girl wants to be a princess....uh not true actually. I never wanted to be a princess....ever. I never wanted to be pretty or be feminine or any of that. I did really want to have a kid but as I grew up I realized that I can still be a parent to a child but it doesn't mean I have to birth it. Lots of kids out there need homes and there's no reason one day one can't maybe share a home with me. I am sure that my parents wouldn't necessarily have chosen a transsexual kid or a gay kid  if they had the choice.  Parents don't often choose to have children with disabilities, or extraordinary gifts, or addictions either but we're all here because our parents loved us enough to let us grow up to be who we needed to be despite the challenges they might have face from other parents or their own family.

Sure it's easy to point fingers at a celebrity mom who you know nothing about and say that she must not spend enough time with her kids or maybe because of fame and fortune it's guilt she lets her daughter act like this. Some say it's a tragedy, and that she is forcing her daughter to dress like a boy for attention. Kids have a strong sense of self and berating a parent for allowing a child to express themselves is like asking a smart kid to dumb it down.

The feminist movement allowed women a lot of freedom and paved the way for girls to enter spaces that were formerly off limits to them, spaces mostly occupied by men be it socially, economically, politically or in a chosen career path. It seems that girls picked up some "male" characteristics along the way and in some cases have even taken male social signifiers and appropriate them to establish their own identities. So as girls and women now move about in spaces on equal footing with men why is it surprising that some might dress the part? And why is it that for the most part "tomboy" isn't something to worry about but for boys who are picking up female signifiers in the same way there is the horrifying sound of whispers?

Perhaps we are moving toward a place where boys and girls will look similar, where androgyny might be fashionable so that boys and men can express female characteristics in the same way women and girls can express their male characteristics. Funny thing is we are so preoccupied with what we might lose that we can't see all the wonderful things that might be gained.

1 comment:

tim said...

Great entry! This is off topic I guess but this is stirring some controversy apparently. (I'm not sure why)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sXTS1gnoQs