A story on police attitudes towards trans people came on the news. I wasn’t really watching but the kids were eating dinner and I suggested he turn it off because the content was getting violent. Nene turned to me and asked: “is that a boy-girl?” “Yes,” I replied. I did a brief explanation of trans people which I cannot remember before moving on. Later I regretted  not saying more and changing the channel – I did not change it because I thought my son should not look at trans people, but rather that the police violence was disturbing.

***

The other morning we were reading a book about football. One of the kids who joined the game in the story had ponytails but was a girl. Nene strenuously objected to him. “Why?” I asked. “Some boys have ponytails. Jesus had long hair.” (Thank you Jesus for breaking gender norms by having flowing locks and wearing essentially a dress). “But Jesus doesn’t have a ponytail,” Nene insisted. “I hate boys who wear ponytails.” He was very adamant about it. I tried to explain that maybe even Daddy would like to grow his hair one day, and he said, “Then I won’t be daddy’s friend.” Where does he get these rigid ideas from? There are boys in his school with longish hair, though none with out-and-out ponytails. The more I insisted, the more insistent he got, so I let it go.

A year ago, a ponytailed boy would have warranted a smile, a giggle and no further comment. Nene himself likes to briefly wear clips and hairbands. But this year the vice of gender has widened.

***

I don’t know how it started but V said to Mimi, “When you grow up, and you marry a boy…” “Or a girl,” I interjected. First of all, I’m against the “when you grow up and marry …” shtick. How do we even presume this will or should be a thing? V gave me a look: “Is that necessary?” “Yes, it is,” I said. “Some boys marry boys and some girls girls.” This is not the first time my kids have heard this from me, but it’s still a strange idea to them for the simple reason that they have never seen a kid with two dads or two mums. Yet.

Later, V and I had an argument. I insisted that it is important to tell our kids from young that same-sex love is not just okay, it is normal. That we think it’s normal. Otherwise, if they do feel attracted to the same sex when they grow up, they will go through the shame and confusion that comes from your parents have said to you all your life, “when you grow up and marry a person of the opposite sex”.

***

My friend was ranting about princess-themed birthday parties and the preponderance of Frozen. I’m kind of bored about mothers ranting about princesses and pink. It’s the new fashion. Yes, we get it. Pink is bad, everything else is good. How many of these mothers would accept a boy in a dress I wonder? Because then we’ll know we’ve made progress.

 

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