Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Is Gender Neutrality a Transgender Precursor?

My Mother and Grandmother
(Love the dress)
I was raised by adoring grandparents. They were meant to be grandparents and before I came along several other kids in the neighborhood would hang out with them. My mother had me a little later in life than the typical 1940’s parent and from baby pictures I can see the proud smile on my grandmothers face. My father was absent and totally out of the picture by age 6.  About this time my mother contracted cancer and fought a losing battle for about 5 years. Much of my raising and home life fell to, my more than willing and loving, grandparents.

Early years for me were gender natural. I have no way of knowing if that was my choice (is now) or just the luck of the draw.  My grandfather was a wonderful role model. A man’s man of that day, in that he worked the general store, farm and many of his activities centered around the typical male’s role of the day. Although he did fully accepted my grandmother as a partner in the business and the two had a wonderful close relationship.     


I had a close relationship with both grandparents and a wonderful childhood. I am very aware of how fortunate.    

There was no judgment or negativity associated when I ask for dolls. Equally, when I asked for wagons and outdoor toys, they arrived at Christmas/birthdays as well. I remember vividly playing my mothers shoes. I knew even then that she had more stylish shoes than my grandmother, so favored hers over my grandmother’s.  She also had beautiful dresses that I adored. 

Fast forward - Has society moved to a place where gender-neutral activity is acceptable? Yes and no.  Elissa Strauss wrote a recent article entitled “Why girls can be boyish but boys can't be girlish”. 

Here is the lead:

His (my son) world is blissfully, ignorantly gender-neutral. In the fall, he'll be heading to elementary school, and I was thinking it might be time to explain to him that as natural as his love for this sweatshirt (a girls) is, there are a lot of people who find a boy in a girl's sweatshirt unnatural and won't hesitate to let him know. The hardest part of this conversation will be what, inevitably, will follow. He, a scrupulous monitor of fairness in matters large and small, will ask whether there are also things people think girls shouldn't wear. I, remorsefully, will have to tell him "no."

Is gender natural activity a precursor for being transgender?  I can only answer from my perspective.  My gender neutrality was a safe place or an outward expression of being transgender. Gender neutrality facilitates being open-minded and accepting of oneself. The transgender component is action or movement past the center of being neutral. In my opinion, the two are mutually exclusive. However, could being gender natural be a gateway or mask for being transgender?  That would make for a great study.  

I am just so fortunate to have been raised by grandparents that were loving and helped me to grow up "accepting of myself".  One of the greatest gifts any parent can give.

The Elissa Strauss article (spoiler alert) draws this beautiful conclusion on child rearing. 

"He also doesn't need my protection. He needs my support, a beaming mom waving from the sidelines as he seeks to make his version of well-behaved history..."

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