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.)
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?