I have a little boy, Logan, who will be three in August. Like a lot of little boys, he likes cars, firetrucks, and superheroes. He also has been known to ask for the My Little Pony cartoon while we're checking out Netflix. Not only that, but he once asked for some pink "girly" shoes while my wife was taking him shopping. She chose not to get them for him, and I'm not pointing any fingers here, because I probably would have made the same choice - and probably felt as conflicted about it as my wife. On one hand, what's the harm? On the other hand, do we want to have to defend ourselves from every idiot who says that it'll harm him somehow? After all, it's not like he keeps talking about it. He seems to have gotten over it just fine, so maybe it doesn't really matter much one way or another. Still, we usually like to let him make as many choices as is reasonable.
The place we take him to when he gets his haircut allows him to pick a toy when he's all done. He usually picks a car, but one time he almost went for one of the dolls. The guy who owns the place discouraged him, pointing out the cars and army men. I personally didn't have a problem with it, and I don't think that Logan paid too much attention to the guy one way or another, but he did eventually settle on a car. One time, though, he picked a purple toy hair dryer. I was fine with this; after all, he watches his mother dry her hair with one, and what's wrong with him emulating that behavior? Turns out that he wanted to use it as a laser gun.
What prompted me to write this was reading about a six year old girl who was born a boy, but identified as a girl, and her parents accepted her choice. Her family won a lawsuit that allowed her to use the girl's restroom. Of course, some people totally freaked the hell out about this, saying that the parents were horrible, and the world's going to hell, and blah blah blah.
This gets me to wondering how I'd handle it if Logan started to identify with being a girl, and wanted to be referred to as one. What, exactly, is the smart decision here? I'm only one person, but I can tell you that I never once questioned being a boy. I was quite comfortable in those shoes. In fact, there was one time when my older sister convinced me to dress like a little girl while she dressed like a boy in order to entertain our parents. My folks took pictures of it, and would laugh about it afterward. As for me, I was embarrassed by it and wanted to destroy those pictures. Who knows? Perhaps that means that my extreme reaction is that I'm afraid of my feminine side, or at least, I was. (I'm kinda over it now.) It is also possible though that I'm simply more comfortable being a boy and leaving it at that.
So if Logan starts saying that he wants to be a girl and wear dresses, what, exactly is the thing to do? I don't think that I ever asked that of my folks, and I never wanted it. My point is that I don't think that he'd ask for that unless he REALLY wanted it. Do I shoot him down and tell him that he's a boy no matter how he feels? To what end? That would only make him feel bad and even worse, rejected by his father. Do I tell him that he can be whoever he wants? We live in a pretty tolerant area, but no doubt it would involve him being teased and bullied.
Just like a lot of people, I experienced just enough bullying to sympathize with those who get it bad. It's horrible and traumatic, but ultimately I don't think that being bullied by your classmates is worse than being rejected by your parents.
I suppose that there is probably no real reason for me to even worry about this, but I think of all kinds of things and what I'd do. I think that this is one of those situations where either way, I'd have a lot of second-thoughts about the choice that I made. Ultimately though, he's going to need to be his own person who carves out his own identity, no matter what that is. The thought of him being an adult man who likes to dress like a woman doesn't bother me, but I do worry about how he's going to have to face the world during his most vulnerable time of life.
Anyway, no conclusion to this one - just a bit of a stream of thought. Thanks for coming along for the ride if you've read this far.