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expressed interested in 'trying out' gender fluidity

(53 Posts)
ktclanmom Thu 05-Nov-15 07:23:08

Our daughter has recently expressed a desire to officially present herself as a male at school. She would like to 'try out' life as a male, and thinks that she might find life easier as such. She says been pondering the concept for some time, but that this interest comes and goes. The only thing I have been able to come up with to try and put a name to her feelings is gender fluidity.

We are a very open minded family...about as open minded as we can get I would think. We are a same sex couple. Our daughter has always had two moms (I am new to the family, but there was another mama before me). My partner spent most of her youth in the closet, and has a first-hand understanding of the confusion, shame, and everything else that comes with knowing that you are not the same as everyone else. Our problem is that we don't actually believe that our daughter has gender issues.

She is extremely emotional, very dramatic, and highly prone to obsessions. She has a boyfriend. She has always been very feminine and very attracted to boys. She has gone through phases where she has fallen in love with cartoon characters, wanted to marry video game characters, and even become anime characters. At any given moment she can be absolutely passionately involved in her current infatuation, and yet she might change her focus so fast she gives us whiplash. She loves to draw, and for the past year she has often drawn herself as a male character (usually in animal form). She also often draws her boyfriend and other friends as their opposite gender. She has a friend at school who is transgender, and she often comments on how cute he is...

So my concern is this... Is she truly in conflict in regards to her gender, or is she entertaining a romantic notion about recent social trends? We want to be supportive, but we are not convinced that this is not an avenue of escape for her typical adolescent discontent with herself and her looks. She has not been depressed or fighting with self-acceptance. She does not seem troubled by her mother's refusal to accept her suggestion. Her mother is upset that her misappropriation of the transgender/gender fluid issue belittles the trials and hardship that people experience when they are truly dealing with gender issues.

I am not sure how to proceed...

Enjolrass Thu 05-Nov-15 07:36:14

When she says she wants to test it out at school what does she mean?

Many girls at dds secondary wear trousers and that the only difference between girls and boys uniforms.

Many boys had longer hair and many girls have short hair too. Some of the child look quite androgynous.

Is that what she wants to do or does she want the school to treat her as a boy. Use the male changing rooms, for example.

Are the school likely to comply with that, for someone just testing it out?

If she wants to cut her hair and wear trousers I would go with it. I would if dd just said she wanted short hair and trousers, regardless of the reason.

From what I understand you are saying she has ideas latches on to the point of obsession and drops it just as fast?

sky1010 Thu 05-Nov-15 07:37:51

Does she realise, that she can do all of these things that 'making out as a male' involves without identifying as a male?

For people who are very open-minded, a lot of the gender queer and non binary brigade are extremely invested in gender stereotypes.

To OP's daughter- you do you. Dress how you want, talk how you want, act how you want, do what you want. But none of this has to dictate who you identify as.

It's so heartbreaking to hear people shun (or equally covet) the idea of 'being a woman' solely based on utterly nonsensical concepts of feminine pursuits and pretty shoes and pink shit.

Women are individuals. It doesn't mean you have to be a man if your behaviour and desires don't meet the feminine ideal.

Enjolrass Thu 05-Nov-15 07:38:07

Also you say she is your daughter but you are new to the family?

How new? Does she see the second mother she grew up with?

Could this be causing some issues?

OTheHugeManatee Thu 05-Nov-15 07:43:11

TBH I think it's probably just trendy, what with Ruby Rose and Jack Monroe and what have you. I would gently challenge her ideas, not on the basis that she's appropriating the struggles of others (even if she is) but in the basis that you don't have to be male to do stereotypically 'male' things.

OTheHugeManatee Thu 05-Nov-15 07:46:32

That said, genderfuck does seem to be having a moment. Especially on Tumblr. I bet she's on Tumblr. If I was 15 now I'd probably be wanting to change my name to Sebastian and insisting all my teachers call me 'he'. Mostly for the fun of using social justice arguments to make adults do my bidding knowing I could accuse them of discrimination if they didn't obey me.

Booyaka Thu 05-Nov-15 07:47:20

How old is she? How long have you been part of the family? Where is her 'another mama'? Why is her mother more concerned with her 'belittling the trials and hardships' of others than she is about her daughters welfare? Even if she is 'misappropriating' this then the chances are that for whatever reason all is not right with her. Perhaps you should be a bit more concerned with her emotional welfare than some ephemeral group she is 'misappropriating'. Incidentally, for all your posturing you sound like the worst sort of 'it's just a phase' conservative parent.

abbieanders Thu 05-Nov-15 07:48:58

Could she just try it out at home first and then think about taking any steps in school after Christmas?

noeffingidea Thu 05-Nov-15 07:51:50

Honestly, if it was one of my kids I'd tell her to stop being a special snowflake. But then I wouldn't have allowed it to get that far in the first place.

TheVeryHungryPreggo Thu 05-Nov-15 07:51:58

I'd go with supporting her, personally. Gender identity is a very personal thing and something everyone should work out for themselves - to tell a young person that THEIR struggle with gender identity is insulting to the LGBTQ community is very damaging. You're her parents first, she's finding herself and not hurting anyone. Let her know you love her whoever she is.

It may well just be a phase, which she's attracted to because it's become a popular concept lately. I've recently thought that if this concept was around 20 years ago, I might have signed up myself. I certainly don't feel feminine except on rare occasions and even then it's just a momentary role. Not even when pregnant (just bloated and uncomfortable). I've often wondered how transwomen know they feel feminine, because I don't know what that feels like. I don't feel masculine either. Just a sort of default "me" with shades of each and neither. As a teen I was horribly uncomfortable in dresses and skirts and far preferred jeans. I'm more comfortable now in my 30s with my inescapable roles as woman/mother/wife and I can't find a good pair of well-fitting jeans.

Anyway, if it is just a phase, it won't last forever and she may look back and cringe but she will always be grateful for loving parents who demonstrate that they will always have her back. She will grow into her own identity eventually.

Annwfyn Thu 05-Nov-15 07:59:07

So what if it's a phase? She isn't hurting anyone, she's experimenting with her identity, she's figuring stuff out. Isn't that what you're meant to do as a teen? It's the safest time to do it.

I'd support her rather than worrying about these hypothetical trans people. And, as a note, I bet 99% of the trans people I know would way rather that gender identity was fluid, that it was OK to experiment and no big deal, thus making it 500% easier for trans kids than it was kept as a Very Big Deal. Suffering doesn't make things more authentic.

LittleSnaily Thu 05-Nov-15 08:06:09

We are going through this too. It is difficult because we don't believe that our daughter is anything other than female - she has a room full of dresses and pink crap!

She is now talking about top surgery and has started binding. Our only consolation is that the wait for the gender clinic is over a year and we hope she'll have grown out of it...

I think it's populist bullshit. We haven't encouraged this but are just going along with it and saying we love her whatever. I'm not having this conversation with her grandparents!!!

My husband and I are both bi and have never made a secret or an issue of this. So we have always been 'meh' about life choices. But this is really frustrating.

HamaTime Thu 05-Nov-15 08:10:54

I think my level of support would depend on what she actually wants to do. If she wanted to wear the boys uniform and have a stereotypical boys haircut then fine, but I wouldn't support her wanting (or demanding) to use the boys sex segregated facilities because I think it's wrong that people are forced to accept opposite sex people in sex segregated areas like changing rooms or be told that they are terfs/biggots. It doesn't seem to be too much of an issue (yet) in the UK, baring the Tara Hudson issue, but in the USA there are incidences of male bodied pupils insisting on sharing female locker rooms and the girls are essentially told to ignore their boundaries and get on with it.
I don't really agree with the argument that it doesn't hurt anyone. Rigid gender stereotypes are harmful and declaring yourself gender fluid is a way of re-inforcing those stereotypes for other people, imo. I don't want to be told that you are special enough not confined to a box, I want the box to be destroyed for everyone, iyswim.

OTheHugeManatee Thu 05-Nov-15 08:13:38

I really hope this fashion for gender-bending is a step on the road to dismantling gender roles altogether. Somehow though I suspect it'll have the opposite effect and just convince young people that if their interests don't match the ones supposedly prescribed by their genitals then what they need is not social norms that are less restrictive but irreversible surgery.

I think in 100 years people will see transgender surgery for what it is: every bit as barbaric and reactionary as Victorians cutting off women's clitorises to stop them masturbating.

HaydeeofMonteCristo Thu 05-Nov-15 08:23:35

A move towards dismantling gender roles would get my vote.

I agree with the poster who said "you do you" to op's dd. It doesn't necessarily mean you are male. For some people it does but often we are just a woman who likes non-traditional things.

Drawing people as the opposite gender sounds as though she had an intelligent take on the meaninglessness (a word?) of gender and could do some great artwork on the subject.

I have often had thoughts that I am male (a gay male) but have to accept that in reality what I am rejecting is traditional expectations of females, rather than actually being female. I have the personality of an old man (I really do) but there shouldn't be anything wrong with this coming in a female body (I am quite petite and feminine looking, so it wrong-foots people). Once when I was about 18 I had a bit of a breakdown/moment of clarity, depending on your point of view, and started referring to everyone as "it". It was such a liberating feeling to dismiss gender, and I have never forgotten the feeling of that moment.

CassieBearRawr Thu 05-Nov-15 08:27:54

little snaily I hope you're supporting your child with safe binding techniques. Especially since they're likely still growing and developing.

LittleSnaily Thu 05-Nov-15 08:34:27

Bear: Unfortunately she is in her late teens so of course knows everything there is to know... Any conversations that it might not be BRILLIANT are interpreted as LGBT persecution...

Cabrinha Thu 05-Nov-15 08:41:07

Even if it's 'just a phase' teenagers have phases for reasons. So I'd let her go for it.

I'm another one curious about you describing yourself as her mum, yet new to the family. How new? My new boyfriend is not my daughter's new dad. He's my boyfriend. Who decided you were another mother for this child?

Enjolrass Thu 05-Nov-15 08:47:25

I would love to get rid of gender roles.

I think in our house we don't have them. Dh an I work from home so childcare and housework is split 50:50.

I am the one whose hobbies are more common for 'men'. I dress how I dress. I wear dresses occasionally, but mainly whatever is comfy. Dh is more likely to be found in a pink shirt than I am.

We haven't done this with an agenda it's just how we are.

I just feel like me. I can't say I feel male or female.

Both kids have a collection of clothes that can be found in any section. Because they pick what it is they like.

Dd chose to wear skirts for school, that's fine. Ds has never worn a tutu that's fine also. I just want them to be them.

However gender can not be broken down completely. The changing rooms is an example. Many people wouldn't be happy with mixed changing rooms. So there will always be some differences. These will always be problem area for the gender fluid/ trams community.

But gender roles need to go. Even if a girl runs around in pink glittery clothes, if she is being her. She is being her. Not a 'typical girl' and the same for boys.

leerysquirrel Thu 05-Nov-15 08:59:57

Another one confused about you calling yourself her mum

SoupDragon Thu 05-Nov-15 09:02:57

Another one confused about you calling yourself her mum

And another one missing the point. It doesn't matter what she calls herself, that isn't the issue is it?

OTheHugeManatee Thu 05-Nov-15 09:07:14

There seems to be some sort of between-the-lines implication that because the OP is calling herself the girl's 'mum' even though she's more like a SM, this must be causing emotional distress to the girl and this might be what's causing her to want to pretend to be a boy experiment with gender fluidity for a while.

To which I can only say hmm

Enjolrass Thu 05-Nov-15 09:15:33

I actually I am wondering what the set up is. Because I wonder if that is playing a part in the issues the OP is concerned about.

Nothing to do with it being a same sex relationship.

If the child has had 2 parents and one has disappeared and been replaced by another person, quickly, that is saying they are their parent. That the child is likely to be struggling. I would say the same regardless of the sex of the couple.

LittleSnaily Thu 05-Nov-15 09:21:33

Stepfamilies are very common - as is the tendency to 'blame' the 'new woman' for any problems with the child.

The fact is that it's hyper cool to be a trans term at the moment. And it's quite fucked up. So how does a supportive parent respond?

Enjolrass Thu 05-Nov-15 09:23:06

Stepfamilies are very common - as is the tendency to 'blame' the 'new woman' for any problems with the child.

I agree. But problems with the settling of the new set up can cause problems. That's quite common too.

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