• Ann Kaplan

Kids and Gender


I probably shouldn't enjoy watching the reactions to my son's clothing as much as I do, but I guess I'm just a sicko, because the more scandalized they are, the more I chuckle. When it comes to clothes, my kids lead the way once they are old enough to make choices (so like 10 months old, or so), and especially once they are capable of dressing themselves (Only rule is that it must be weather-appropriate if we are leaving the house). Skye has taken full advantage of that freedom since the beginning and taking my son through the grocery story with flowery headband, sundress, purse and (of course) a Captain America mask, is the most enjoyable thing for this mom, whose fondest desire is to give the world a metaphoric middle finger. And it is truly remarkable how uncomfortable people get with his clothing. His grandparents, teachers, other' parents, and even his father (!) had a lot of resistance to Skye being Skye. We've heard things like, "don't worry; my son wore dresses too, but now he's just fine," (a statement I can't even begin to unpack). My MIL tried hiding his 'girl' clothes and worried that letting him wear girly clothing would encourage him to be....I'm not exactly sure what...? I don't think she was very clear on what she was afraid of, either. Others thought I was setting him up for ridicule and should protect him, and Mike started changing the whole 'you pick your own outfit' standard in our house after a while. But the truth is that Skye's feeling of gender ambivalence, (or just liking the feel of a damn skirt, for Pete's sake!) is normal...and also completely out of our control. The reason I put 'girl' clothes in his room? Because he kept stealing his older sister's clothes: they didn't fit him so he tripped over them all the time, and his sister was pretty pissed to see her dresser ravaged everyday. When he doesn't have the clothes he wants, he finds them, creates them, or pretends to be wearing them. I have no idea who my son will become, and that's OK. What I do know is that shaming him will destroy him, and changing him is not within my power or right. And why would I want to? He's freaking AWESOME already! This week I will be talking about gender identity, imposing our desires and gender ideas on our kids, and how to be supportive and open as our kids grow and discover themselves. Tune into the group for all this and more.

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© 2018 by Ann Kaplan