Guest Post: Raising My Fabulous Child

Iʼm Matthias, and Iʼm a single dad to two small tornadoes. My life is crazy on a good day and Iʼm learning and loving every moment of it. (This post is a submission by a guest author. To submit your own guest post, click here.)

 

ThumperStyle

It hurts to have this much style.

Thumper and I were at the movies, heading toward the concessions counter. Thumper was skipping along as usual and another moviegoer smiled and commented: “What a happy girl.” Then she took another look, taking in the pink outfit and short haircut and changed her mind; “…boy,” she corrected herself. Then looking to me perhaps for clarification, she revised further: “…person.” This is one of my favorite examples of life with my gender-playful child.

Iʼm a trans guy, and a dad for almost five years now. Iʼve always talked about my trans identity with my kids, Thumper (almost five) and Monster (two and a half). I started explaining it by saying I used to be a girl when I was little. And that was it. I mean, all sorts of things change. Change is something that kids are learning about all the time. How snow melts into water, how water freezes into ice, how seeds grow into plants. Whatʼs one more? To kids who have never had gender norms imposed on them, girls growing up to be men is just one more possibility in a whole world of changing things.

Despite my best efforts, my children categorize things as “girl” or “boy” things. However, they freely choose between those options. Thumper has been largely choosing girl clothing for a little over a year, since he was three. He went through this awful phase of not wanting to wear any clothes at all–which is fine and good except it was late fall, I didnʼt have a car, and we walked everywhere. I had to get him to put something on so I could get him to school and get to work. After a few mornings of loading him naked into a sleeping bag and buckling him in the stroller for this lovely 30-some degree walk, I was at witʼs end. It was around this time that someone gave us a bag of dress-up clothes, including princess dresses. It was indeed magical, the switch from daily wrestling matches to get my kid into clothes to him being excited to put on a dress to wear to school.

Over a year later, Thumper still prefers dresses, skirts, anything pink or sparkly. Iʼm happy to be a parent who celebrates my fancy kid. Iʼm glad that I have experiences that I can share with him, and that he feels comfortable talking to me about things like gender. There are quite a few resources out there for parents of trans or gender-exploring children, but I havenʼt found any specifically for queer parents. I have moments of feeling scared about what life might be like for him as he starts school, but Iʼm more excited to share in this abundance of gender with my kid!

So, queer parents, how do we encourage our children to think creatively about gender?

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4 thoughts on “Guest Post: Raising My Fabulous Child

  1. (this is partially my own personal baggage, but) I think a big part of it is doing so without fear or judgement. My kid cannot be too queer or not queer enough; I cannot live in fear that others will judge me if my child goes out into public in pink instead of blue, and if he goes through a year where all he wants to wear is green and play with train instead of my little pony, there’s nothing wrong with that either. Taking a deep breath and being encouraging but not too much is really hard. At least, I’ve seen it a lot with other parents, and identified it with myself.

    Man, parenting is harder than it looks…

  2. My son is also gender-playful. Our son enjoyed two full weeks of pink dresses and pigtails in the fall. (His hair is long and blonde, so even without dresses people mistake him for a girl all the time.) Right now he’s dressing every single day in pants made of fabric with dollar bills all over them. He gets looks. Standing up proudly and not defensively next to this young person who is expressing himself is often challenging for me. I wish he made it easier for ME to go out in public sometimes, but that’s not his job as a kid. I’m trying to do my job as his parent. Support him in becoming the best person he can be.

  3. I have a 6 yr old who decided to get her hair cut short – finger length short. I was happy to support her in this, with a gentle statement that others may say she looks like a boy, just so she knew what she was in for.

    She is happy with her identity as a girl, but chose to express herself through her hair that way – it’s interesting watching how she has coped with other kids saying she looks like a boy (“No, I look like a rock star” is one of her many answers). It has worn her down, though, and she is going with another short haircut, but one that is a little more “mainstream” for her next ‘do.

    The reaction from adults has been interesting – some find it almost offensive that a girl would decide on a finger-length hairdo, others have been accusatory at me, asking why I “let” her do that. She is an individual, and I think it’s great for kids to explore their personality and identity, through their hair and clothes. It’s a freedom that I think kids need – control over as much as they safely can have control over in their lives.

    It is kind of sad to see her dial it down for now, but I know it’s only a matter of time before she goes back to her edgier look.

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