Transgendering A Toddler Is Child Abuse
I remember when I was very young, a boy no older than 7 I figure, I went into my parent’s bedroom and began playing with my mother’s things. By the time I got caught, I was wearing lipstick, costume jewelry, and high heels. My parents screamed at me and sent me to my room. They told me I was a boy and should not be dressing up like a girl. I remember being very angry and sad about this.
My next door neighbors had a daughter a little older than me. I remember thinking she was so cool. She and her friends had these stick on earrings and they let me and my brother have some. This wasn’t even a thing about femininity, but rather I recall some of the 80’s bad guy characters on TV having their ears pierced and I thought it might make me look tough. But again, my parents said “You’re a boy, boys don’t wear earrings” and demanded I stop. I defied them, and they said “If you don’t stop, we’ll make you wear a dress to school and all the other boys will make fun of you”. I told them “I don’t care, I’ll wear a dress to school” at which point they confiscated the earrings and sent me to my room once again. Once again, I was very angry and very sad.
I sometimes envied girls. Most of my cousins were girls, and they had cooler toys than me. At the time I didn’t realize that this was because they had more money. I thought it would be cool if I could be a girl. But alas, I could not be a girl. Parental scoldings or none, I was sentenced to life in a male body.
It’s a good thing I was a child of the 80’s. While I certainly have my disagreements with how my parents handled a lot of things in my childhood and beyond, this was one of their better decisions. Boys need to be taught by their fathers how to be men. Girls need to be taught by their mothers how to be women. My father wasn’t the best of role models, but he taught me to work, he taught me that a man sometimes had to fight, he taught me that a man often had to put his emotions aside and do what was necessary. Today, I’m happy with my body. Not as happy as I was 15 years ago, but all things considered it has served me well. I am proud to be a man.
I dread the thought that a child today might do the same silly things I did as a child, and wind up like 3 year old “Jackie” whom I saw in a recent piece from NPR. “Jackie” begins life as a boy named Jack. One day Jack’s parents are dropping Jack’s sister off at school, and this happens.
“Jackie just looked really, really sad; sadder than a 3 1/2-year-old should look,” Carter says. “This weight that looked like it weighed more than she did, something she had to say and I didn’t know what that was.
“So I asked. I said, ‘Jackie, are you sad that you’re not going to school today?’ And Jackie was really quiet and put her head down and said ‘No, I’m sad because I’m a boy.’ ”
Carter was taken aback. Her youngest had been wearing her big sister’s dresses regularly and enjoyed donning pink boots. But this was new.
Carter wanted to confirm. “You’re really not happy being a boy?” she asked.
“I thought a little bit longer and I said, ‘Well, are you happy being you?’ And that made Jackie smile,” she says. “And I felt like for that moment, that was all that really mattered. That was ‘The Day.’ “
“The Day” referenced, is the day they decided to raise their son as their daughter. Just like that, a 3 year old says “I’m sad because I’m a boy” and his parents sentence him to a life as a transgendered person. Rather than tell Jack that being a boy was a good thing, rather than let him know society could not exist without men, rather than explain gender to Jack, deal with Jack’s sadness, or teach Jack how to be a man, these parents did what entirely too many parents do today, and placated him.
They bought him elastic hair bands and gave him ponytails. They, with the help of his pre-school teacher, began discussing what his female name would be. They, being the obviously less than creative people they are, decided to call Jack, Jackie. They bought Jack his own dresses, girl toys, and all the other things parents do when raising a girl.
Jack’s sister Chloe, she’s not so hot on the idea…
As Carter explains, her daughter Chloe is the only one in the family Jackie still allows to occasionally refer to her as “Jack,” as “he” and as “brother.”
“Chloe is very loving and protective and supportive,” she says. “But I think for Chloe, she still attaches this memory of her little brother, of Jack. And it’s right now hard for her to let that go. It’s that last piece she’s holding on to.”
The parents, well, they still hold onto the memory of their son as well.
“I myself have times when I miss my boy,” says James Christian. “And I look at the old clothes and the old pictures and I will miss Jack. And that’s probably never going to go away. That’s just going to take some time.”
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