Don’t my two look pretty in pink? I know but I digress. This isn’t a post about their toddler fashion no matter how on point, or on fleek it may be.
More a collection of thoughts in response to THAT news story, you know the one. The one where a Canadian parent, Doty, has hit headlines for register their child’s gender as U, U for unspecified or undetermined gender. Ok then let’s just take a minute here… Right, now, to be clear, as tolerance and open-mindedness goes I am, without doubt (and to my mind) one of THE most tolerant people going. Live and let live. I did once watch a documentary on channel 4 called The Secrets Of The Living Dolls… I mean did you see it? It did almost get me questioning just how laid back I was but as always I fell upon my mantra to live and let live.Anyway I digress once again. I am not hear to criticise said parent, it is a free world but I do wonder about their decision. I have a very close relative who has Gender Dysphoria I am not ashamed of it, far from it. I encourage it. Nobody should spend a life trapped in a body they do not know or recognise. If said person want’s to come to a gathering in a skirt over shorts I could not care less. Life should be about happiness not conformity. However from my understanding getting to this place is a process a person goes through over their life. Through the already difficult years of growing up. It is not decided over night, it is for many a long journey that takes a lot of working through. It is not decided upon easily. It is reached by not identifying or understanding the body or sex you have. It is a very personal experience and a decision for an individual to make, not a parent or anyone else. It is also, actually, extremely rare. Is it fair to put such a pressure on a young mind. I don’t know. It also strikes me as a little concerning that their parent does not identify with any gender and I can’t help put wonder how much of this is personal issues being placed upon their child.
I am not saying as parents we shouldn’t be conscious of the potential for such situations to develop in our children or those we might know or that we shouldn’t be conscious of gender stereotyping in general.
In fact I think it’s fair to say that parents are ever more conscious of gender stereotyping in today’s world. I have read countless posts and articles from parents who give their children gender neutral toys, are happy when their daughter chooses the work bench over the kitchen at playgroup or shuns pink. I get it and I am not averse to this. Any steps toward a more gender equal society are to be applauded.
But I can’t help but have a niggle at the back of my head too, my daughter loves pink. It is her favourite colour, like her mum. She loves to wear a ‘pippy dress’ and ‘pippy shoes’ (that’s pretty, if you’re unsure). She loves playing with her dolls and takes her baby to bed and kisses it goodnight. She is emulating her mother as that is what she has seen me do in her little life. Equally I might add, so does my boy. If Zara is playing with a doll, so will he. If she is playing toy kitchens, so is he. If she wants me to ‘do her make up’ (after watching me do mine) then so does he. (Incidentally they also both love cars, playing in them, ‘driving’ them, pushing them. Their father works with cars and I can’t help but feel they are emulating him on this one. )
I am however almost made to feel that in solidarity for sisterhood this is not cool and that she should be disregarding this typically feminine style in favour of something more neutral or even masculine.
Frankly, I think this is bollocks. I couldn’t care less that my daughter likes pink or plays with her dolls. A colour is a colour and a toy is a toy, especially at 2. I equally couldn’t care less that my boy likes to do the same thing. Growing up I loved playing with my Barbie dolls, dressing them and cutting their hair as much as I loved playing on my bike, skateboard and running in the field behind my house playing army. What gender these activity ‘suited’ most was never in issue.
There are enough toys in our house to rival Smyths, from dolls to trains. They can both play with whatever the heck they like. I don’t think that is an uncommon position of many parents these days.
What I won’t stand for however is me or my children, or any child, harbouring negativity from others over their choices to be so say ‘stereotypical’. I will be and am proud of her for being maternal with her dolls and loving pink just like I am when she wants to play cars. I am not any more or any less proud whether she chooses pink or blue. The same stands for my son.
For me it all about choice and allowing them to explore and make their own mind up, in their own time. I suspect this is exactly the point Doty is trying to make. Whether you agree with the means or not.
Everyone in this world is different (and thank god), everyone has a different opinion and preference to certain things in life. I think the key is to all appreciate those differences whether that difference means you like heels when you ‘shouldn’t’ or whether you want to wear heels when you ‘should’. Male, Female, pink, blue or rainbow bloody coloured, who cares, live and let live.
What about you? What do you think about the decision to raise your child under the classification U? What do you think about stereotypical girl and boy things? Do you care? Do you subscribe to gender neutral parenting? I’d love to hear from you.