I just read this article on the Advocate's website about a parent who accepted her transgendered kid early on. It's heartwarming that the kid wasn't bullied (at least, not yet--fingers crossed for him in middle school). But what really caught my eye was the sentence, "He transitioned at the age of five."
My first thought was this: no one knows what he or she wants to do or be at five. Five-year-olds will assert that they are dogs or fire trucks, or that they want to eat only pickles for the rest of their lives. Sometimes they assert such things with startling persistence. Are we supposed to take all these things seriously?
At the same time, maybe assertions about sex and gender are more fundamental somehow--more elemental. Maybe by being perceived and treated like a boy from age five, the kid in the story will avoid nasty bouts with depression and gender dysphoria that would have plagued him if he'd transitioned at 25. He'll be able to go through puberty as a boy the first time around. Kids know who they are, this line of thinking goes. And a really big part of me agrees with this.
Still, another really big part of me knows that the world is packed with sex divisions and gender norms. From a very young age, I certainly knew that I wasn't like the other girls. I always wanted to play with the boys and wear boys' clothing. When I looked in my parents' closets, it was my father's ties that I coveted (and my mom is by no means a "girly" girl, so it's not like ties were the alternative to dresses and heels). If the mom in this article had been my mom, I probably would have transitioned.
Instead, my mom would reassure me that not all girls liked to wear dresses or play with dolls. There were unfortunate restrictions (how I wished I was allowed to shop in the boys' department!), but as best she could, she taught me that there were a lot of different ways to be a girl. I'm positive that her open-mindedness helped me to become the dapper butch I am today. For a lot of reasons, the road was not an easy one. But I am very glad to be a girl; my girl-ness just doesn't look like most other people's.
I guess what I'm struggling with in reading this article is a fear that gender nonconformity will be taken for early expressions of trans identity. I think it's super important to accept kids as they are, but how do you do this--and support a kid you think may be trans--while at the same time, leaving wide open the door that your dress-eschewing kid may be a female butch? I worry that labeling gender-nonconforming kids "trans" is another incarnation of affirming gender norms.
As you can see, I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about this. What do you think, dear readers? Is five years old too young to transition?
One of my favorite BW fans (okay, you're all my favorites) went through a rough breakup back in May. With a summer of healing under her dandy butch belt, she's emerged with some sage advice to share. You can check out more of her writing at shpants.wordpress.com.
eL! (photo by Tiffany Rodgers)
Hello, readers of Butch Wonders! I like you already. My name is eL, I'm in my early 30s, and I am a single butch. I blog here and tweet here. I identify as butch, queer (and faaabulous), and a bit of a fancy pants dandy. Nice to meet you!
A couple months ago, I went through a pretty awful break-up. (Who goes through a smooth, easy break-up?) I was in a relationship that I felt pretty good/solid about, and it ended abruptly due to some personal issues (not my own). During the post-break-up convalescing, I was treated to some well-intentioned but not-so-helpful comments from friends and family. See below.
What NOT To Say to Someone Going Through A Break-Up:
My point is that there's nothing good that you can say to someone who is going through a break-up. That's the sad truth. The best thing that you can do is listen. Let them cry, let them talk, let them rant--just listen to them. Also, spend time with them. That helped me most in getting over my recent heartbreak--doing things with friends/family and getting out of the house.
I think the worst part, for me, was that we had made plans for future events, things had been scheduled, tickets had been purchased. All major events have since passed, I went to them with friends and family, and I am fine. The dates themselves were harsh reminders at the time but I am so happy that they are over and I am past it.
If you have a friend who is going through a break-up, give them your time, attention, and patience. Take your friend out to do something active and fun. Think of something unique or unusual--something with no connection to their ex. The more active, the better--get their mind off of the stress and sadness. Respect them if they say they don't want to talk about it, but try your best not to tiptoe around them. There's a fine line between showing love and making someone feel pitied. You don't want them to feel looked down upon. Try your best to be supportive, but not overbearing.
Personally, I try to err on the side of direct, rather than blunt, as best I can. I will always ask questions and do a check-in. A simple, "Are you okay?" "How are you doing?" or "Is there anything I can do to help?" can make all the difference in the world. So does the phrase "love you." I love my friends so much and only want the best for them: to be happy, healthy and whole.
Take care of your hearts, BW readers. And if you need a kind ear the next time you're going through a tough time, I'll gladly listen.
As you know, I've usually got tons of butch fashion opinions that I'm all too eager to share. But today I'm airing my uncertainties: I'm sharing five fashion trends that I just can't decide about. What do you think about these? Hot or not? Feel free to vote, comment, etc.
What fashion trends are you on the fence about, dear readers? Any guilty fashion pleasures you'd only admit in an anonymous comment?
The convergence of two things I was reading today led me to this post:
According to McGonigal, most people struggle with willpower. I know I do. She invites readers to pick a particular "willpower challenge" of one of the following types:
Then she suggests various ways to help meet these challenges. In Chapter One, for example, she advises being uber-vigilant about when you are making a choice--even to the point of carrying a notebook and writing it down. Why? Because we often aren't aware that we're making decisions at all. It turns out that if you ask people in the abstract, "How many decisions do you make about food/eating daily?" they guess about 14. But then if they actually count these decisions, it ends up being over 200! The idea is to get acquainted with how the decision-making moment feels, whether it's the urge to check your email or the urge to order those hot Converse from Zappos.
That brings me to my question for you: if you had one month and unlimited willpower, what would you do in that month? What "I will"/"I won't"/"I want" challenges would you take on? These aren't rhetorical questions--I really want to know! You show me yours and I'll show you mine...