Saturday, November 6, 2010

Save the horse, turn your child queer.

There has been a fair amount of attention paid to the gender expression of children in the media lately. Specifically I am speaking about Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, the second to youngest child of the Brange (if you count the twins as "one" child").

Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, aged 3, has caused tremendous stir because her parents "allow" her to dress like a boy...


Supposedly Angelina is turning her daughter into a boy and/or a lesbian.

Clearly the people saying these things have never tried to make a three-year old put on clothing... I was happy if I could make the three year olds I was babysitting put on pants in the winter, let alone what colour they were.

The debate rages on: is turning out gay/straight/trans/other nature or nurture? Are parents to blame if their 3 year old girl-child wants to wear pants exclusively, shuns dresses, the colour pink**, and has more fun throwing her Barbie's off the balcony than playing house with them.

It should be fairly obvious that my opinion is a most decided NO. There is absolutely NOTHING my parents did to make me gay. There is nothing they did to make my brother straight.

In the movie "But I'm a Cheerleader", the subjects are asked to find their "root" of homosexuality, the cause of their inability to be attracted to the opposite sex. Since the movie is making fun of the futility of the Ex-Gay movement, roots such as "my mother got married in pants" and "I was born in France" were used to demonstrate the utter absurdity and far fetched ideas that there was something that could make a child deviate from the expected heterosexuality.

Sexual orientation, gender identity and biological sex are three distinct categories, all relating to each other but exisiting exclusively of each other. Someone who is straight, and whose physical biology matches the expected gender identity (ie, boys = penis, girls = vagina) never needs to question the relationship between these three ideas. Gay people question their sexual orientation, and may or may not question their gender identity, since it may not come into play. I did not question my gender identity until several years after I had finished questioning my sexual orientation, and only because I was breaking down the gender constructs I had learned as a child, and what it meant to be a woman and whether I wanted to participate in an "appropriate" gender expression. I never felt like my outsides were mismatched with my insides, but I do not feel totally "feminine", however, female pronouns best suit my expression, even when I feel more Male than Female on some days.

You can turn a child gay as easily as you can change their permanent hair colour.

While I think there's something to be said for gender as an entire social construct, children who are transgendered engage in opposite sex roles and behaviours even when they are not role modeled by their same sex parent. Most non-straight identified adults felt that they wanted to be the opposite sex as children at some point, myself included.

The bottom line is that whomever Shiloh turns out to be, it is of no business but hers and her family if she chooses. Angelina and Brad should be commended for allowing their children to express their identity, and not dumping them into a box, especially in light of the media circus that surrounds them on a daily basis.

And honestly, who gives a rats ass whether your kid is gay, straight or somewhere in between. At the end of the day, you, as a parent, will be judged for raising a human being who knows the difference between right and wrong, and work towards a better world. The people judging parents because they have gay children are the people whose opinions matter least, because they come from a place of intolerance, ignorance and fear, even if they say it's from "love", or my favourite, "because God said so" (seriously, God doesn't say anything about this anyways, and why would he care if two ADULTS enter into a consensual and loving relationship, based of mutual affection, respect and each other's tolerances to deal with the other person's shit).

I am incredibly lucky to have so many amazing people in my life, who love J and I for WHO we are, who will love our kids irregardless of how they turn out, and who work their butts off to raise conscientious, wonderful kids.

The colour shirt your child puts on in the morning is not important. Your reaction to the shirt colour is a better indicator of how your child will deal with this. If you freak out and make them change, your child will learn that some things are shameful, they will be afraid and may end up overcompensating (same thing if your toddler uses the F Word at the dinner table).

I think there are more important topics to address than whether your five year old is allowed to wear a tiara.

** The idea of gendering colour is fairly recent, according to this website. It was reversed before our modern concept of gendered colour emerged, as Pink was a brighter, bolder colour, reserved for boys, and Blue was a muted, softer colour, reserved for girls. Blue was used as the school uniforms for poor boys (girls didn't even get an education) as it was the cheapest dye.

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