Welcome to the Journey

I wrote this note today to a mom with a five year-old. I share it with any of you who are just starting to reach out for resources to support a son who likes stereotypically girlish things, and to support family who might be struggling with him.

If there are two things I have learned, both from being part of support communities and from comments and emails on my blog, it is that 1) all our kids have things in common and are also very much individual and unique, and 2) that they are going to be who they are with or without us.

workingOur son is almost seven. He loves Legos, and robots, and engineering. He has no interest in ballet, and he’d rather play with a robotic rover than a Barbie. But he wears dresses to church most every Sunday, has long hair, and sports pink sparkly shirts to school. He adores fairies and unicorns, and I am trying to keep his awareness of the My Little Pony franchise to a minimum(!)


I have so many people write to me privately from my blog, telling me their stories, some celebrating the luck of a new generation to be nurtured rather than shamed, others mourning their own painful childhoods. Of the former boys who write me, some are gay, a few have transitioned, some are straight guys who like pink and nail polish. Their parents’ responses to them did not affect who they turned out to be, only their sense of self-esteem, the amount of baggage they carry, and the length of their journey to healthy adulthood.

Sometimes it’s hard for family members to understand that, yes, we are choosing our son’s comfort over their own. They want to know why we won’t “give him some boundaries,” “teach him what’s acceptable,” or at least make him wear “boyish” clothes around them.

But we know that he will be who he will be. We will not tell him who he might be is unacceptable. We won’t teach him that his true self (as he sees himself now) is shameful and needs to be hidden.

My partner has often said, “I’ll admit, it’s not what I would have chosen. It sometimes makes things hard, and it sometimes brings up a lot of stuff for me. But I recognize that it’s MY stuff, not his. He doesn’t have a problem; I do. And therefore it’s my job to deal with that for myself, not to push it onto him.” More than anything, my partner says, he wants our son to look back and be able to say that his dad was in his corner.

Welcome to the journey . . .

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6 Responses to Welcome to the Journey

  1. Mark says:

    your partner is a smart person, recognizing that it’s his stuff not the child’s that’s standing in the way. And that job is to meake sure you get out of the way of another person who just plain likes what they like. Why is that such a hard thing for most people to do? Is it because they have such little control over things in their own life that they gleefully try to ensure someone else also gets no pleasure for what they like? I don’t know. But I do know it’s more than just what’s “right”, in order for or species to continue.

    I have thought alot of this, because I am a straight fellow that likes my toes polished. Actually colored to be specific. I never expressed much else in gender blurring, but for some reason coloring my toes makes me happy. Color makes me happy-is that weird? I don’t think so. I like red on my cars, blue on my motorcycle, a field of multi colored flowers and the list goes on and on. Girls are going all out to have permanent colors on their bodies-tattoos that were once reserved for men of rather dubious character, but my art is removable any time I want.

    I would find it difficult to find a girl or a woman alive in our Western culture that wouldn’t bristle, and probably be even more determined to do it, if she was told, “oh, honey, you can’t do that, whatever that is, because only boys do that.” Yet this is exactly what boys and men are told every single day. Expressed alot of times with vehemence by women for pete’s sake, because they think boys should grow up to be “manly-men”, again whatever that means to the individual.

    So she gets to do whatever she pleases, but turns right around and denies that very concept to another. What gives? I don’t care about “fairness”, I despise hypocrisy.

    So I color, because it makes me happy, everybody’s feet looks better done in my opinion, it hurts no one else, there are alot of really serious things to worry about in life, and this isn’t one of them, and why in the world would anybody care that I have color on my toes? Just to name a few reasons. 🙂

    At any rate, a dress, pink, sparkles, nailpolish, long hair, whatever, does not make the boy or the girl, it just expresses a human being, and it’s nobody’s call to judgment that has any bearing on why that should be denied.

  2. Lena Tichy says:

    What a beautiful letter! Almost brought me to tears. I suppose accepting your children the way they are only works if you as a parent can accept yourself that way, which is hard sometimes, damn hard. So I think it’s just great you’re getting this message out there. Thank you.

  3. mrsslip says:

    I was wondering if I might to link to this post from my blog (giving you the credit you so deserve of course!). I love your sentiments and wanted to share it with my small community of readers. My son, who is five, mostly identifies as a female and has been going through a slow social transition to a girl. We have embraced him for who he is and he has our unwavering love and support. I’d love to share your story.

    Jen (www.talesofasouthernyankee.blogspot.com)

    Sent from my iPhone

  4. Okay, I admittedly love everything here, but I especially appreciate this letter. We are along the same journey with our own almost 7 year old (what?! really?! 7?! whoa, that felt weird to write). Thanks for being a guide, resource and companion.

    • pink says:

      Thanks, Mara! Knowing other families are out there means the world to me. I’m hoping to get much more up in the next couple months so stay tuned!

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