Supporting a Transgender or Gender Neutral Childby Elizabeth MacDonald
Our society is finally accepting differences. Maybe accepting is the wrong word to use. “Addressing?” That may fit better. Our society is finally addressing differences, or lack thereof, among genders. It has been the headline for over a year now, ‘Trans-Gender’ and ‘Gender Neutral Children’ those identifying more with the opposite gender than they were born, or unsure of which gender they truly identify with. Our culture has not been the most welcoming to the topic, but with all great things, our country tends to fail before it succeeds.
There are many families, educators, and governments out there trying to erase the gender label of infancy. ‘The idea is to make all things available to all children. Pink isn’t banned. Rather, it’s up for grabs. More subtly, and onerously, it means being careful about language and behavior so, for example, boys are given the same amount of attention as girls when they are upset, to counteract the assumption that girls are more emotional and boys are naturally braver. This, they say, is the way to stop women being too “nice” to ask for equal pay in the workplace and men from being too stoical to ask for help when they need it.’ I, personally, feel as though a person has the right, no matter how young, to explore and hear their inner voice on the matter. They should be able to communicate these feelings openly in a safe environment – with their family and in their home, surrounded by love. I also feel, as a parent, that getting excited over the gender of your child is natural. Pregnancy brings with it dreams of tea parties and super heroes. These dreams, as we know, may never happen – and that is completely ok – but they are still what we dream while pregnant. It is fun, if for a moment, to get caught up in the pink and blue.
There are so many feelings involved as an individual, and from the perspective of a parent. I would hope that most parents would agree that it is not just the gender that causes excitement, it is the overall health of a baby that causes joy. When a parent or family uses tutus or bow ties to reveal their unborn child’s gender, they are not (I would hope not) trying to pave their child’s gender path. They are only celebrating and sharing their excitement. A parent cannot predict whether a daughter’s favorite color will be purple or green, or if she will love glitter or mud. They cannot expect a son to build towers instead of bake cookies, or wear a cape instead of a tiara. A parent cannot influence who their child loves or who they truly are inside. What a parent can do is LOVE. UNCONDITIONALLY.
Supporting a Gender Neutral Child
A child who is unsure, or very sure, of their identity will seek support from family if their family life is one without conditions. It is so important for love to surround these children (all children), as the world may not be as supportive.
Let Them Be: Childhood is about adventure and self-learning. It includes all the puzzle pieces that make up the foundation of adulthood. Childhood is meant to be carefree and reckless, intense but fun. A child challenging gender lines, maybe going between a boy and a girl, does not know they are challenging stereotypes. They do not know anything more than happiness. Let your child explore and create themselves. This is the first step in truly accepting your child is their own individual.
A Safe Environment: Provide a home on unconditional love. There should never be bullying, mean jokes, or anything other than support within your family.
Open Communication: Gender is an important part of a person’s identity, and no child should feel as though they cannot talk about the struggles or realizations they are having. A gender neutral or transgender child may experience harsh words and other sad things in our world, and they will need an open line of communication to be able to digest, move past, and stand up for themselves.
Permission to Live: Some children seek approval while other children need nothing but their own passion. Children who need this will not find self-love, self-approval, or the self-confidence needed to lead a happy and full life. It may take parents speaking words of approval, or it may take actions to show approval, but it will be worth it. Doing so may be hard for some parents who are still caught on stereotypes and others’ opinions, but reality is this: your child deserves this moment of freedom. Granting them permission to fly will free your own self too.
Self-Education: Never stop learning. While your child may be blind to the hurtful comments or glazes, you are not. Learn the best ways to spread love through positive energy and comments. Read books, blogs, and speak to those who live full lives while challenging these stereotypes. The more you know, the more confident you will be.
Enjoy Your Child: Your child is changing the world. Be ever so proud. More information that I loved reading: http://s.telegraph.co.uk/graphics/projects/parenting-gender-neutral/ http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/1033051/raising-a-gender-neutral-child