re: 4 year old DD and gender identity

(299 Posts)
herethereandeverywhere Fri 12-Feb-16 08:42:45

Sorry, have posted here for traffic, not sure where else it should be.

[trying to avoid drip feed, sorry if long]

DD2 is 4 next month. She wants to be a boy. If I ask 'Are you are girl or a boy?" she answers "I'm a girl but I want to be a boy". She selected lots of 'boy' toys for Xmas like fancy dress outfits of male characters. All of this I'm comfortable with. I was very 'ant-pink' with DD1 but as soon as she hit about 2.5 and started mixing with other kids it was Disney princesses and pink sparkles all the way. So DD2 was raised in a fairly universal environment of choose what you want.

Summer last year (just after I'd bought several dresses in the sale in time for holidays) she declared she would no longer wear dresses. This has moved on to any item that looks remotely female. I have replaced her princess knickers with pirate underpants, ditto socks. There is no way she'll wear any of DD's hand me down tops with 'girly' motifs on them. when I take her for new shoes she selects the 'boy' style. I have been fine with this and was pleased she was finding her own identity. She'd been shy-er and quieter than DD1 and I saw this as her coming out of her shell, being her own person.

The issue at the moment is her hair. It's currently past shoulder length and for the last week she has been going nuts when I try to tie it back, screaming 'no ponytail'. She says she wants 'boys hair'. Today she literally screamed the place down for 10 minutes and was sobbing, utterly heartbroken. I'd been hoping she just forgot about the hair thing but it's getting worse.

I really don't want to cut her hair off - it would take so long to grow back. Until now her choices have all been instantly removable (clothes/toys) if she moved on from this, but a short hair cut is something else.

So, I suppose it's AIBU about the hair - but more importantly: is this normal? How far do I let it go? has anyone else experienced similar and what did you do/say? I'm not afraid of having a transgender child but it seems wrong to be expressing what she's doing/saying in those terms when she's not yet 4.

foragogogo Fri 12-Feb-16 08:46:36

Totally normal I'd say. I was exactly the same at that age and am quite happy about being a woman (well, apart from the way we are treated but that's a different story)

She's probably what was previously thought of as a tomboy. Its only now in our ridiculous pinkified society that theres some.sort of weird backlash going on where anyone that doesnt want to be a pink princess (who can blame them?) Has to be labeled as gender fluid or transgender.

Only1scoop Fri 12-Feb-16 08:47:08

She's not even 4 yet and is having so many demands re choosing clothes etc?

I certainly wouldn't have a 3 year old dictate how she has her hair.

TestingTestingWonTooFree Fri 12-Feb-16 08:47:41

How does she/would she react if you present stuff as being gender neutral/unisex? Does she prefer the style or because it's associated with being a boy?

My mum only had girls but in the 80s dressed us in clothes that would now be considered boys clothes.

foragogogo Fri 12-Feb-16 08:48:05

By the way, when my 5 year old was 3 he wanted to be a dinosaur and insisted on replying to everyone with a roar and was glued into his dinosaur costume. Hes quite happy now as a little boy.

Only1scoop Fri 12-Feb-16 08:48:51

Just to add my dd is 5.5 and has never been interested in fairy stuff always the Pirate or Peter Pan.

I've never even thought of it as a gender issue.

TestingTestingWonTooFree Fri 12-Feb-16 08:49:17

Even short hair will grow back. Could she have a bob? There are plenty of boys with quite long hair. Allow her to choose a style that's acceptable to you?

Nanny0gg Fri 12-Feb-16 08:49:23

I agree. She would have been called a tomboy back in the day.

As to the hair, you could either show her pictures of boys with their hair tied back or have it cut in a 'feminine' short cut that she will accept.

My daughters never had long hair because I couldn't be bothered with the faff!

herethereandeverywhere Fri 12-Feb-16 08:49:30

Thanks Only. What do you suggest? Pin her down whilst I forcibly tie it back in a ponytail? hmm she's upset enough already.

CooPie10 Fri 12-Feb-16 08:49:33

Ridiculous to even consider her being a transgender child at 4yo. It's not possible.
Why the eagerness to label her?
Just leave her to dress however she feels comfortable but don't make it into a big issue about asking her if she's a boy or girl. It could just well be a phase.

mudandmayhem01 Fri 12-Feb-16 08:49:41

She is not transgender,she is 4. Let it go and allow to choose her own hairstyle. If she changes her mind a short boys haircut would probably grow enough to be restyled into a pixie cut style in a short period of time. Sounds like you are doing a great job with her clothing and toy choices so far.

lastqueenofscotland Fri 12-Feb-16 08:51:04

Ditto the poster who said they were the same at that age, I was. I've always been a "tomboy" still am I guess. But I'm also very happy as a woman.
My sister wanted to be a cat and used to insist on eating off a plate on the floor with no hands...

Nanny0gg Fri 12-Feb-16 08:51:21

She's not even 4 yet and is having so many demands re choosing clothes etc? I certainly wouldn't have a 3 year old dictate how she has her hair.

Depends on what you enjoy fighting about really.

Sighing Fri 12-Feb-16 08:51:23

It's hair, it will regrow. Just cut it off. On the plus side she can then look after it herself. So many girls still can't sort their own haor out at school because they have it done for them every morning.

AuntieStella Fri 12-Feb-16 08:51:26

There's nothing wrong with a girl wanting to have short hair.

Don't confuse the idea that people who are in the 'wrong' body may know this from early on, with the utterly normal phases of preschool development.

Let her choose her activities and her appearance (within the limits of general suitability of clothes) and just see how it goes.

Only1scoop Fri 12-Feb-16 08:52:31

Get a bob cut

Best thing I ever did. Saves hours.

ScarletForYa Fri 12-Feb-16 08:52:37

Normal. My dd 3.5 likes 'boys' pants, has to wear jeans/leggings Spider-Man top every day. Screams similarly about her hair, hates pony tails (I think find them uncomfortable)

I just go along with it.

I feel your pain re the hair. I love long hair but if she's insistent I'd bring her to have a few inches off at first, she may be happy with that. Then if she wants to go shorter, I'd let her.

LineyReborn Fri 12-Feb-16 08:53:00

She is probably understandably reacting to the whole 'princess' crap that is currently used to ascribe some bewilderingly glittery gender characteristics to little girls.

I was the same. And I am now a woman who wears jeans. No pink or glitter in my house. But I'm definitely a woman.

Callthemodwife Fri 12-Feb-16 08:54:14

My cousin was like this as a child. She has her hair cut short (like a boy's) and was very happy when people addressed her as 'young man' or referred to her as a boy in public. I admire my aunt very much, as she was very supportive and allowed her to do what she wanted. Once her body started to change she dressed as a 'girl' but wasn't particularly feminine and now in her 30s she's a very stylish and normal woman (albeit not a huge lover of skirts, but then neither am I!!).

I agree with pp who says that children now have to be labelled - she's just a tomboy and children have been doing it forever!

AntiquityReRises Fri 12-Feb-16 08:55:44

A short hair cut is something else? You do seem to have quite rigid definitions of gender, maybe that's something you could work on so you can see that your dd merely has certain interests and likes that she needs to frame as "boys" because society and you do.

And why would you even ask if she's a girl or a boy? That must be quite confusing for her.

Plus, you want her to be her own person with regards to her sister and when she rejects all things of her sister's, thus being her own person, you dislike this.

Hair will grow back, clothes are clothes, shoes are shoes.

herethereandeverywhere Fri 12-Feb-16 08:56:49

TBH I have always had long hair I tie back in a ponytail which I see as least faff!

I'm trying to select a style that is good for nit prevention. I don't want a bob that is long enough to attract nits but not long enough to tie back.

It's the 'I want to be a boy' and above all the real distress at her having anything associated with what she perceives as 'girly' that's the gender issue, not the choice of pirates or other boy characters to act out in role play.

LumpySpaceCow Fri 12-Feb-16 08:57:04

Just wanted to give my (or rather my sister's experience). From the same age as your DD, you may have described her as a 'tomboy'. She wouldn't wear girly clothes, had her hair cut really short, loved football and had more male friends than girls. People often mistook her for a boy. She was like this until she hit puberty and one day asked my mum if she could have some money to buy a skirt. She is now an adult and very much identifies as female.
So it may just be a phase that your daughter is going through. Maybe compromise with the length if the hair?

Only1scoop Fri 12-Feb-16 08:57:15

Why do you ask her 'are you a girl or a boy'?

pinkcan Fri 12-Feb-16 08:57:43

Every girl of 3/4 should have a fringe and just above chin length bob. It should be the law. It doesn't need tying back, it doesn't get in their food, it is very easy to brush and won't get very knotty anyway. No clips or hairbands or anything is needed for this style. I can't fathom who has the time/energy to fart about doing preschoolers' hair styling.

Sofiria Fri 12-Feb-16 08:59:37

She's not transgender. She's four. If there wasn't a need to choose between 'princess' or 'pirate' underwear (and I'm not blaming you for this, OP - clothes for children are increasingly stereotypical) this wouldn't be an issue. Maybe try to find underwear/socks in plain colours that don't put forward either the 'boy' or 'girl' message?

I'm a fairly feminine-presenting woman who prefers skirts to trousers - as a child I often wore 'boys' clothes as they were the ones with the interesting cartoon characters on and I hated (and still dislike) the colour pink, mostly because everyone told me that I should like it just because I was a girl.

As for the hair, it might be an idea to show her pictures of boys and men who have long hair, so that she doesn't see it as just for girls? Ultimately, though, it's just hair, it'll grow back, and it doesn't have to be a serious gender marker unless you make it one.

Also, is she at nursery/school? I taught in a nursery where a little girl who loved Spiderman (and wore the outfits) was repeatedly told by the boys that she couldn't like it because it was for boys. I had a chat with the children about this, but I can see how if something like this happened and wasn't picked up on, in the mind of a 4-year-old 'I want to be a boy' could seem more logical than 'girls can like Spiderman too' if that makes sense?

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