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Gender neutral parenting? - Page 5

post #81 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Landover View Post


Here is what I honestly don't understand... I see it being said that you are going to secret away the concept of your son's gender from him because you don't want to influence or confuse him. That argument is steeped in the idea that you CAN change or influence a person's gender identification (as you said it is not biological).

By indicating that your words (and for heaven's sake a shirt) can so easily influence a person into gender identification, you are making the argument for all of the crazies who try to influence their kiddos into *not* being a certain gender. By this logic, if my DS tells me later in life that he feels more feminine than male, all I need to do is change his wardrobe and buy him some football pads? Do you think that all of the dinosaur shirts or references to being a "man's man" could have made your DS's uncle into a man's man? My guess is no... so why do you think that simply calling your son a boy, dressing him in clothes that are generally for boys, and allowing him to follow his interests will turn him into anything other then what he is going to be?
here's my take on this. whether or not one can "change" gender or influence it, by impressing upon a child concepts like "boys do this- you are a boy" or "girls do this but not this," etc. whether the ideas are impressed verbally, through society's reinforcement of stereotypes through clothing and toys, or in many other subtle and not-so-subtle ways, when a child receives those messages, that child will be impacted. that child may suppress inclinations and desires and be limited in choices. it's not as simple as someone "causing" the child to express a particular gender. it's more of a situation where a child will outwardly express a socially approved, lesser version of the child's true and authentic self.
see what i mean?
think about this- have you ever been in a situation where someone made you self conscious to the point you behaved in a different way than you normally would were you not being judged? for example, if you are a meat eater, did you order the salad because you were with vegetarian friends when you really wanted a burger? think about that feeling and multiply it by a thousand, and imagine how a child is going to react and how that child could possibly - for example- pursue his dream of dancing the ballet when "everyone knows" that ballet is for children identified as girls.
all the pink tshirts tell him so. all the models he sees on television tell him so. his friends and family members may have consciously or unconsciously steered him towards something else every time he tried to dance-- or if he did put on his sister's ballet shoes, when he went out in public, people made comments (and not necessarily discouraging ones) that made it clear to him he was doing something unusual and not socially normal.
it takes more strength and support than most people have to make defiant choices like that.
post #82 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by coffeegirl View Post
I do believe so that there are differences between the genders, and that sex and gender are fundamentally linked. I'm having a hard time finding the words to explain how I understand it though in purely logical terms without getting into theology somewhat...so I hope others can jump in. In the meantime, I'm doing some research.
I've heard all the differences that are supposed to exist between genders and know at least one "exception" for all of them. So while I do believe there are differences between one child of one gender and another child of another gender, I don't believe there are differences between genders.
post #83 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by hildare View Post
here's my take on this. whether or not one can "change" gender or influence it, by impressing upon a child concepts like "boys do this- you are a boy" or "girls do this but not this," etc. whether the ideas are impressed verbally, through society's reinforcement of stereotypes through clothing and toys, or in many other subtle and not-so-subtle ways, when a child receives those messages, that child will be impacted. that child may suppress inclinations and desires and be limited in choices. it's not as simple as someone "causing" the child to express a particular gender. it's more of a situation where a child will outwardly express a socially approved, lesser version of the child's true and authentic self.
see what i mean?
think about this- have you ever been in a situation where someone made you self conscious to the point you behaved in a different way than you normally would were you not being judged? for example, if you are a meat eater, did you order the salad because you were with vegetarian friends when you really wanted a burger? think about that feeling and multiply it by a thousand, and imagine how a child is going to react and how that child could possibly - for example- pursue his dream of dancing the ballet when "everyone knows" that ballet is for children identified as girls.
all the pink tshirts tell him so. all the models he sees on television tell him so. his friends and family members may have consciously or unconsciously steered him towards something else every time he tried to dance-- or if he did put on his sister's ballet shoes, when he went out in public, people made comments (and not necessarily discouraging ones) that made it clear to him he was doing something unusual and not socially normal.
it takes more strength and support than most people have to make defiant choices like that.
DS is who he is and in our house, him and anyone else will know they are in a safe zone. They can be themselves and know we won't have a problem and we will stand up to anyone who does.
post #84 of 97
[QUOTE]all the models he sees on television tell him so. his friends and family members may have consciously or unconsciously steered him towards something else every time he tried to dance-- or if he did put on his sister's ballet shoes, when he went out in public, people made comments (and not necessarily discouraging ones) that made it clear to him he was doing something unusual and not socially normal.[/QUOTE

Good point... so it seems like there is a huge influencing factor that is society in general that the kiddo is going to have to go against. I still don't see the point in not telling you kiddo their gender? Talk about things being seriously confusing!

Quote:
DS is who he is and in our house, him and anyone else will know they are in a safe zone. They can be themselves and know we won't have a problem and we will stand up to anyone who does.
My house is the same way. People who are open with their children about their gender can create the same atmosphere within their home. Creation of that atmosphere is not at all predicated upon not revealing your child's gender to them.
post #85 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Landover View Post

Good point... so it seems like there is a huge influencing factor that is society in general that the kiddo is going to have to go against. I still don't see the point in not telling you kiddo their gender? Talk about things being seriously confusing!



My house is the same way. People who are open with their children about their gender can create the same atmosphere within their home. Creation of that atmosphere is not at all predicated upon not revealing your child's gender to them.
Ah, but as a PP mentioned, every transgendered person she knows knew from an early age. So why bother telling someone their gender when you don't even know what it is? He will (and somewhat does) know what parts he has. Eventually he will know what parts his sister, aunts, grandmother and other females have. He will grow up know that it's not an "all boys have a penis and all girls have a vulva." He will grow up knowing that "most boys have a penis and most girls have a vulva."
post #86 of 97
Wow. There are so many comments on this thread. I just read through the whole thing and have to chime in. I will probably have to come back again because at this point so many things are going through my head.

First, I will start by "coming out" as a female to male transgendered person. I do believe that gender is a social construct and I do not agree that this means that being transgender is a choice of mine. I can go more into this later after I have had time to process.

That does not mean that I only have "guy" interests. I am a guy that sews, bakes, does needle point, builds things, played hockey, etc. I think that my interests are gender neutral. But fundamentally I have always related to feeling like the gender that is typically pegged as male in society.

My parents raised me as fairly gender neutral. I was allowed to have my own interests and play with the type of things I wanted to play with. I played hockey at a time when less than 5000 girls in the country played hockey. I helped my dad work around the house and was taught how to use tools. I never thought about my gender unless there was something that tried to peg me as a gender. And no matter how much my parents allowed me to have my interests independent of my sex...I definitely was very aware from a young age about the social construct of gender. Since I as born in the female sex, when I got the message about gender it was a message seeing me as female, and I could never relate. Since I couldn't relate as female the default then was male. My interests are considered male in society and so that got me to relate to myself as male. I did not see myself in what society considers female and I did see myself in what society sees as male, therefore I was/am male. It has absolutely nothing to do with the hormones in my blood or the plumbing between my legs.

I live as a man, take hormones, etc, etc. Because I want the outside of my body and society to treat me as the gender that I feel.

One other thing I wanted to comment on. Someone as some point said that there are fundamental differences in male and female personalities. That testosterone makes one more aggressive and estrogen more caring, etc. Although studies may seem to point to that because men are typically more aggressive and women more caring, I think these qualities are also social constructs. Maybe it also just so happens that men are taught to be more aggressive and they also happen to have more testosterone than women. What I am trying to say is that I know A LOT of transgendered people taking hormone replacement therapy. I get a shot of testosterone every week. Although it has allowed me to grow body hair, and it has deepened my voice, it has not make me more aggressive. Increased sex drive yes, more aggressive absolutely not. And I can tell you that I now have a testosterone level consistent with an average male of my age as determined by regular blood tests.
I have yet to meet a transgendered guy who became more aggressive after testosterone or a trans woman who became more caring. Although I do know aggressive trans guys and caring trans women, but they are that way independent of their testosterone or estrogen shots.

I do not think that raising your kid gender neutral matters in the gender that your child turns out to be. I do believe that it will just allow your child to have open access to explore things that they wouldn't otherwise get a chance to explore, and give them a place where they can just be them. No matter if you tell your child what their gender is or not...society will and you cannot get away from it. In the world it is harder. But with family support, even your transgendered kid can go through life feeling normal and not like a freak. I wish this for my kids, and I am glad I got that. Even though I know society saw/sees me as a freak, I have never been ashamed of my gender and the way that I express it. No matter how much society tried to push me into a gender box, I was given permission to be myself growing up and that made the difference in my long term mental health.

I personally will tell my DD that she is a girl until she tells me otherwise. I will however not tell her that that will determine what she should be interested in or how she should dress or treat other people.

Whew.
post #87 of 97
Quote:
Increased sex drive yes, more aggressive absolutely not. And I can tell you that I now have a testosterone level consistent with an average male of my age as determined by regular blood tests.
Do you think that maybe increased aggression (just to name a "male" trait) could not be an issue because you have not always had a male level of testosterone?

My realm of of knowledge and reference in this subject is hardly breathtaking. Knowing two people who made the switch has certainly opened my eyes to viewing gender in a different light and to understanding that while I always thought it was very black and white, it isn't.

But I always wonder about the biological tendencies I see-women's smaller waist to hip ratio, men's broader shoulders, bigger hands, more prominent adam's apple. Strength and endurance differences.

If you look at my husband and me from the back, it is clear who is the man and who is the woman. We both possess clearly defined physical attributes that define our sex. Or is it gender? Now I am so confused-it has been too long since I took my anthro and gender politics classes.

I love discussions like this. I love being able to think about the social and physical constructs I take for granted every day in new ways.

Thanks for chiming in Colsxjack!!
post #88 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Landover View Post
Good point... so it seems like there is a huge influencing factor that is society in general that the kiddo is going to have to go against. I still don't see the point in not telling you kiddo their gender? Talk about things being seriously confusing! ]
Yeah, that's my main reservation about it. I personally think it could be borderline cruel to not give a child the clear answers and guidance they're looking for on something as fundamental as "am I a boy or a girl?"
post #89 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by colsxjack View Post
...

I do not think that raising your kid gender neutral matters in the gender that your child turns out to be. I do believe that it will just allow your child to have open access to explore things that they wouldn't otherwise get a chance to explore, and give them a place where they can just be them. No matter if you tell your child what their gender is or not...society will and you cannot get away from it....

I personally will tell my DD that she is a girl until she tells me otherwise. I will however not tell her that that will determine what she should be interested in or how she should dress or treat other people....
For me, this sums it up quite nicely.
post #90 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by colsxjack View Post
I do not think that raising your kid gender neutral matters in the gender that your child turns out to be. I do believe that it will just allow your child to have open access to explore things that they wouldn't otherwise get a chance to explore, and give them a place where they can just be them. No matter if you tell your child what their gender is or not...society will and you cannot get away from it. In the world it is harder. But with family support, even your transgendered kid can go through life feeling normal and not like a freak. I wish this for my kids, and I am glad I got that. Even though I know society saw/sees me as a freak, I have never been ashamed of my gender and the way that I express it. No matter how much society tried to push me into a gender box, I was given permission to be myself growing up and that made the difference in my long term mental health.
Thank you so much for offering your perspective on this topic, it really is quite enlightening. The part I bolded above really resonated with me, because it really is so important to me to raise our kids to love and accept themselves no matter what path they follow wrt their sexuality. Of course I have no idea at this point what inclinations my kids may have in this department, so it seems even more critical to me to give them as much freedom as possible to decide that for themselves.
post #91 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by betsyj View Post
But I always wonder about the biological tendencies I see-women's smaller waist to hip ratio, men's broader shoulders, bigger hands, more prominent adam's apple. Strength and endurance differences.

If you look at my husband and me from the back, it is clear who is the man and who is the woman. We both possess clearly defined physical attributes that define our sex. Or is it gender? Now I am so confused-it has been too long since I took my anthro and gender politics classes.
Those are physiological differences. They relate to sex. Even then there is no promise that genetics or what's between the legs will mean specifically those features. That's why we use words like "androgynous" to describe some people, and why I know women who have, even from the front, been confused for men and at least one man who gets called "Ms." often enough even when wearing distinctly male clothing.
post #92 of 97
Interesting!

Quote:
I do not think that raising your kid gender neutral matters in the gender that your child turns out to be. I do believe that it will just allow your child to have open access to explore things that they wouldn't otherwise get a chance to explore, and give them a place where they can just be them.
I think this says it nicely... As much as raising them in a gender neutral environment does not effect who they will be, I don't think raising a little boy and actually referring to him as a boy will either. It is all about how open and honest you are with you kids.

Quote:
I personally will tell my DD that she is a girl until she tells me otherwise. I will however not tell her that that will determine what she should be interested in or how she should dress or treat other people.
Perfection! This is exactly how it is in my home as well!
post #93 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by betsyj View Post
Do you think that maybe increased aggression (just to name a "male" trait) could not be an issue because you have not always had a male level of testosterone?

My realm of of knowledge and reference in this subject is hardly breathtaking. Knowing two people who made the switch has certainly opened my eyes to viewing gender in a different light and to understanding that while I always thought it was very black and white, it isn't.

But I always wonder about the biological tendencies I see-women's smaller waist to hip ratio, men's broader shoulders, bigger hands, more prominent adam's apple. Strength and endurance differences.

If you look at my husband and me from the back, it is clear who is the man and who is the woman. We both possess clearly defined physical attributes that define our sex. Or is it gender? Now I am so confused-it has been too long since I took my anthro and gender politics classes.
I think it's sex, and gender. The two are linked. Sometimes, like a PP mentioned, someone of a certain sex may not have all of the traditional physical aspects of that sex (like you mentioned, the broad shoulders, Adam's apple, uterus or lack thereof, etc.) but I believe these cases are considered medical anomalies, not in any way the norm or something that you can anticipate or expect. As I understand it.
post #94 of 97
Physical traits such as wider shoulders, different hip to waist ratios etc. are mainly based on hormones and genetics. You will get body type from your genes. But the hip ratios and shoulders and jaw shape etc. are influenced by hormones.
There is no such thing as an "adams apples". The physiology of a male and female throat is the same. Hormones thicken vocal cords and create the look of the adams apple and deepen the voice. If a FTM started hormones as a young teen, they too would "grow" and adams apple. As it is, most on hormones will get a much deeper voice and their neck will change shape after hormones.

After being on hormones for awhile, a persons whole body shape will change. Fat distribution will change and create a male-to-female person to start having more rounded curves, wider hips, softer jaw, etc.
The hormones will also change the hip/waist ratio of female-to-male folks, change the angle of the jaw, skin and hair texture, etc. So yeah, physical attributes are determined by genes and hormones. So basically they are sex based and not gender based.

Sex is the physical aspects of a person being male or female. Gender is the behavioural aspects of male or female. Sex is based in biology and gender is a social construct. What it means to be male and female is different all over the world and the way males and females act and interact are different all over the world. This is based on how society trains males and females to act, dress, react, etc. A social construct.
post #95 of 97
Kids don't grow up in a vacuum--you have to counteract all of the negative messages other people are giving them about their gender. So I aim for "gender appropriate" parenting, rather than merely "gender neutral."

Also, child psychology tells us that gender identity is really important in young children, so it would be damaging to not give that to a child. If he/she wants to change that later, then of course that's fine. But withholding it altogether is cruel, IMHO.
post #96 of 97
I've only skimmed the first couple of pages, but ITA that, like everything, it's easy to get carried away and take it over the top. Let your kids lead with their interests, and it will be okay in the end, IMO.

I didn't sweat it when my son wanted to cook with me (and he is an excellent cook & baker now! His dorm mates are going to LOVE him!), nor when my daughter wanted me to teach her how to slide (she played baseball with the boys, and was better than most of them). And vice-versa. I suspect it had less to do with what they wore or played with, and more to do with the fact that, as the sole day-to-day parent, they have seen me do it all. From cooking and laundry, to basic car and home repair. I kiss boo-boos but will tell them to suck it up when it's appropriate. There's no such thing as a "man's" job or a "woman's" job in our home. There's just stuff that needs doing.

They're both their own people. Both are secure in their gender identities, w/o needing to flaunt it. A is known for giving "free hugs" in school (every Wednesday!) and "spinning" as he runs around the field in PE, but also stands up as a man. C can get down and dirty with the best of the guys (and kick most of their rears), and turn around and get soft and pretty (since when did "pretty" turn into a dirty word?) and, yes, girly. I say - good for them! They're comfortable with themselves in their entirety, and don't have to pretend one is better than the other.
post #97 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtiger View Post
A is known for giving "free hugs" in school (every Wednesday!)....
I just had to laugh when I saw this. DS1 had posts on his facebook around Christmas, reminding everyone to see him at school to collect their "Christmas hug". That was the only time I'd seen someone give out "free hugs". I mean...I had a friend in school who hugged people all the time, but she didn't talk about "giving out" hugs, yk?
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