Sunday, November 10, 2013

Why Does My 9 Year Old Know The Word Transgender?

And more importantly, why am I so proud that she does?

Ahhh, where to begin? Do I start with how Chaz Bono is involved? Or do I start with my Facebook post?

I guess I'll start with my Facebook post since that's really why I'm writing this post.

"The angry Midget and I are watching the movie "Barnyard." It's an animated movie about a boy cow. 
A boy cow with an udder. 
When I pointed that out, she said (without missing a beat,) "Maybe he's a transgender cow."
I. Am. SOOO. Proud.
#raisingherright #nojudgementhere #readyfortherealworld"
This simple status update not only brought me back to a thought that I've had for years, but it was a thought that was echoed by others in my "Friend List" as well.

After I told  The Angry Midget I was proud of her for her statement, and that she not only knows the word "Transgender", but that she used it in a correct and non slanderous way she said, "Yeah. I probably know a lot of words kids my age don't know."

I thought about that for the briefest of moments and responded, "That's going to serve you well in life. Parents who shelter their children aren't doing them any favors."

I can see where these parents are coming from. I can. They want to teach them their beliefs. They want to protect them from all the scary things in the world. They want them to have the happy care free life of a child. I understand that, and can appreciate their efforts. But (there's always a "but") I wonder if they really are helping their child. If you don't expose your child (within reason and at an age appropriate level) to the things that are in the world they live in, you are setting them up for at best: a confusing, rude and shocking wake up, and at worst: complete failure.

I don't filter much with my kids. There are people who think I'm a horrible parent because of this.

"Swear" words? Yep, they have heard them all. They're just letters. They only have power if you give them power. (To be clear, I'm not talking about slurs. This is strictly "French" or "Sailor" vocabulary here.)

Body parts? We use the proper names for most things. Breasts are boobs, but boys have a penis, girls have a vagina. That's as technical as they are ready for at this point (especially the 2 year old.)

So, how does the word "transgender" factor into all of this, and what does Chaz Bono have to do with anything? I'll tell you.

You may remember a few years ago, Chaz Bono was on Dancing with the Stars, and there were a bunch of people who got their panties in a twist because a few years before that HE used to be a SHE, and wasn't Chaz but Chastity. There was all kinds of outrage because Chaz is confusing. Or rather his sexuality is. Apparently. And the children, MY GOD THE CHILDREN! They might see him and be confused. Because he dresses half as a man and half as a woman.

Oh, wait.

He doesn't do that? Seriously?


No matter, THE CHILDREN!!

After about five seconds of this garbage, I had had more than enough. People were freaking. The fuck. Out.

They wanted ABC to drop him. They threatened boycotts and lost their shit ALL OVER  the interwebs. Of course, Fox News was ten kinds of bent out of shape over this. *gasp* *shock*

So I put together an experiment of my own:

I pulled up a picture of the cast for that season, and showed it to TAM. I asked her if there was anything confusing in the picture. 
Answer: No, though there was some snark about a few of the poses and outfits (that's my girl.) 
Then I asked her if any of the women looked like men. 
Again: Nope. 
So then I asked her if any of the men looked like women. She picked Chaz out and said, "He does." 
"What makes you say that?"
"I saw it on tv. They were talking about him being a woman before."
"Had you not watched a report on tv about him, would he confuse you or stick out to you at all?" 
"No. Why would he? He just looks like a guy."

That's when we had the transgender conversation. We had already had the gay conversation, and had several other "hard" conversations about life and the world, so this really wasn't a big deal. It wasn't an in depth convo. I didn't break out hand puppets and diagrams. I just told her the basics. What she needed at that time, and left the door open for follow-up questions. She was happy, I was happy (and vindicated,) and we both were able to look each other in the eye afterwards.

So. Moral of the story? Your kids are a blank canvas and you are painting them into the people they will grow up to be. Don't paint a donkey on there. They're not as well liked, or as pretty, as horses.

Also, kids are smart and capable and adaptable. A LOT more than adults give them credit for, and than adults are in general.

I think we would all do well to remember that.

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