Thursday, 12 January 2012 06:05

Exploring Gender: Positive Stories

Written by  Cael

 Over the past week, I have come across a few blog posts from people who have either noticed positive interactions for gender non-conforming children or who have helped to break down the gender binary for children in the classroom to prevent bullying. Children learn so early on how gender affects the world, how it creates a line to follow in every interaction, in every choice. Society dictates from the moment of birth how children should be dressed, what they should play with, how they should react and think, all based on its sex at birth, and children learn within those boundaries. The only way to allow children to escape the binary is to walk ourselves outside the constraints society sets or to educate them about gender outside of the rules reinforced in their everyday lives.

 

 

I wanted to share one of the stories from my childhood in which I was allowed to be myself and see if others would be willing to share theirs. Stories can be from your own childhood or even some positive interaction you saw with a child in a store, maybe a boy getting a Barbie, or at the playground, maybe a girl climbing the trees higher than all the boys. Sometimes instead of the news I tend to report, which is not always good, we need some things to make us smile, to show us there is hope. Anyway, my story:

When I was growing up, my mom and I had a deal: If I was good, did well in school, all the normal be-a-good-kid stuff, I could do whatever I wanted to my hair (as long as I didn’t color it because that was against school rules). I remember being in school and wanting my hair to be short, but not just short. I wanted it to be cut like a boy’s. As the time passed in lower school, I kept getting closer and closer to that cut I wanted, debating with myself every time I went to the hairdresser whether I should or not because it wasn’t proper. It wasn’t right. My experiences led me to believe cutting my hair like a boy’s would be wrong.

I don’t remember when I finally did it, though I’m sure there is photographic evidence somewhere, but I finally got up the courage and did it because of a conversation I had with my mom and with the hairdresser (who still cuts my hair and has since the get-go). I remember flipping through the magazines and finding a picture of a guy with a haircut I liked and stopped, wavering. I was sitting beside my mom, and I looked at her. I held up the magazine to her and finally asked the question, “Can I?”

My mom just looked at me and said, “Of course you can.” No judgment, no question in her voice. The hairdresser came up and asked me what I wanted, so I showed her the picture. And smiling, she said, “I think that’ll look great. We’re gonna have so much fun with this.”

Two adults in my life that day gave me permission to be myself and even allowed me to feel happy in a decision I had been debating for years. There are people like that in the world, people who want kids just to be kids, to play, run, jump, scream, everything kids do, without having to experience the stress associated with trying to live within the boundaries.

I’m including links to a couple of the blog posts I have seen this week, check them out. And please, leave your stories in the comments. Sometimes we need to smile and realize the good in the world.

Links:

http://togetherforjacksoncountykids.tumblr.com/post/14314184651/one-teachers-approach-to-preventing-gender-bullying-in

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-wolfe/dear-customer-who-stuck-u_b_1190690.html