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3 year old got me thinking about children and gender

(30 Posts)
Jenala Wed 23-May-18 13:05:54

This morning, my 3 year old DS wanted me to put a hot pink hair clip in his hair. It's quite a big claw clip that I use to keep my hair out of the way in the bath, and looked hilarious when placed on top of his head as requested.

He thought it was great and announced "I'm a girl". My opinion is no one should really be bound to gender roles so my automatic reply was "boys can wear pink hair clips too". And then I overthought the whole thing (he didn't. He danced around showing his brother his "lovely hair").

Obviously there's a shit ton of debate about transgender issues and I'm not specifically trying to create a whole other thread about it. But I do find it interesting to consider in terms of parenting young kids because I realised I don't really know what to say. I don't mind if he pretends to be a girl and don't want to ruin pretend play by insisting "no you're a boy who likes hair clips" but equally I don't want him to think liking feminine stuff makes you a girl. That is ok to like that stuff if you're a boy too. I think in general it's a bit more accepted for girls to be tomboyish than it is for boys to be 'girly'. But the way things are going, expressing a like for stuff that's typically used/liked by the opposite sex means one needs to question their whole identity. I think that's a bad route to go down because it only shores up gender roles and delineates us all even more along stereotype lines. But it worries me that this narrative is being pushed and I wonder how to navigate it when it comes to school time. It makes me feel really horrible to imagine my sweet lovely boy one day having a talk at school from some Mermaids type organisation and starting to think that liking say pink makes him less of a man in some way.

Also, DS is starting to be interested in differences and likes pointing out he's a boy he has a willy, mummy isn't a boy because she doesnt have a willy and I've realised that it's getting to the point at the moment where the simple act of telling my 3 year old that "boys have willies" could be seen as wrong. In fact I've realised I actually feel a little bit uncomfortable as though saying this is really old fashioned. Despite my views. How ridiculous is that? And if I'm internalising it in that way, what about parents who aren't thinking about the whole thing all that much?

I don't know. Maybe this post is pointless and I'm sorry if so. It's just got me thinking about how expressing these thoughts is so easily seen as hateful when in fact I'm concerned only for my child and his future self esteem and sense of self.

HerFemaleness Wed 23-May-18 13:13:53

This is something I've thought about myself. My youngest is a bit older than yours and we've had these discussions that boys have penis's and girls have vulva's. It's all proper terms in my house grin.

I'm with you that it does feel old fashioned but what the hell would the alternative be.

Boys are people who identify as boys because they have a deep internal sense they are boys. If you're a boy who identifies as a boy you dint have this deep internal sense, only girls who identify as boys do. So if you're a boy who identifies as a boy, you just accept you're a boy without really knowing why. Whereas a girl would know she is a boy because she would have a deep internal sense that she's a boy. You know you're a boy because you feel happy and comfortable doing boy things like playing football and farting, if you like doing girl things like wearing princess dresses and sitting quietly then that means you're a girl, unless you're a boy who likes doing girl things. Clear as mud, eh?

HerFemaleness Wed 23-May-18 13:14:55

dint = don't. Fat fingers.

Branleuse Wed 23-May-18 13:15:50

He's pretending.
Saying "I'm a girl" is the same as saying I'm a dinosaur or I'm a mummy at that age.
Don't overthink it

NeverLovedElvis Wed 23-May-18 13:19:57

At this age though, they are just playing. If he had told you he was a dog, an astronaut or a dinosaur im guessing you probably wouldn't have felt the need to correct him.

It's awful that it's come to this. That we have to panic about little children playing make believe in case some well meaning fool takes it as evidence that the child needs to transition.

UpstartCrow Wed 23-May-18 13:20:20

I agree with Branleuse, they act out/practice a lot of different roles, its just healthy play. No need to overthink it.

Biology is basic, not old fashioned. Women are the ones that have a vulva and give birth to babies. Men are the ones with a penis. that hasn't changed despite the fad for magical thinking.

NeverLovedElvis Wed 23-May-18 13:20:43


UpstartCrow Wed 23-May-18 13:23:00

Sex not gender X post! Make a wish grin

Jenala Wed 23-May-18 14:09:10

Yeah I know I'm overthinking it. I don't think my overthinking extended to him though, he was just playing with the hair clip, oblivious to me grin. I know it's no different to him putting DH's hard hat on and announcing he's a builder. I hope my post didn't come across like I was attributing anything particular to his play beyond my own pondering.

I think the overthinking was kind of my point though - I'm aware there are people out there that might take that kind of thing as the first 'sign'. If I'd said to him "ooh do you think you'd prefer to be a girl" he'd have probably said yes because of course in that moment he does because that's what he's playing. And then there could be groups going into his school one day, professional looking groups, advising the government, and telling him those kinds of things could mean he's not really a boy. And it baffles and angers me. How could anyone think that's progressive? I can't get my head around it.

It's like it has this veneer of liberal progressiveness and many are thinking no more deeply than that. I can't verbalise properly how this whole thing is the opposite, it's regressive. I don't need to worry now really as he's not in school and maybe sanity will descend in time. But it could also just become doctrine.

DisturblinglyOrangeScrambleEgg Wed 23-May-18 14:11:27

he's a boy he has a willy, mummy isn't a boy because she doesnt have a willy

You're lucky there. DS2 didn't believe me and was fully prepared to have a good poke around to prove I did until I shooed him away..

I agree with everyone else though - it's normal role-play, it's what they've seen around them, and yes, I always say that colours are for everyone etc, but they just role their eyes at ridiculous mummy (I hope that I sew enough of a seed of doubt that the know it deep down though)

HerFemaleness Wed 23-May-18 14:22:56

I don't think you're over-thinking this. It does seem to be where people are heading. The whole of humanity put on a sliding scale of gender conformity from the most feminine of women to the most masculine of men. A boy who likes pink and barbies is further to the feminine than the boy who likes football and transformers. Does that mean he's less of a boy? If the answer is no then how do you make sense of the 76 (?) gender identities currently in existence. At what point are you no longer cis and become something else entirely?

Melamin Wed 23-May-18 14:26:29

I spent a lot of time at that age wondering if woman had hairy chests and did you have to have a hairy chest to be a man and if a woman who had a hairy chest was a woman, what was a man then............ No one told me about the genitals.

Then one day I worked it out for myself and told my Dad that boys had willies and girls had bodies. Then he told me that everyone had a body, not just girls confused and since he did not tell me and actively avoided the issue totally of what girls had (ie, vulva or any other word), I was even more confused than ever confused. And this was a dad who fancied himself as a cool hippy open minded educated type and wandered around naked. (1960s)

Let him play with his hair clips, but let him know they do not make any one a girl or a boy.

Melamin Wed 23-May-18 14:27:48

(And girls need a name for their bits angry )

Mxyzptlk Wed 23-May-18 14:49:20

then there could be groups going into his school one day, professional looking groups, advising the government, and telling him those kinds of things could mean he's not really a boy.

You are not overthinking it.
Here is a very short video of Diane Ehrensaft, one of the top pediatric "gender therapists" in the United States.
In it, she responds to a question on how to recognise trans-genderism in very young children who may not be able to speak yet.

HotRocker Wed 23-May-18 14:51:40

He is a boy because he has a willy. Mummy isn’t a boy because she doesn’t have a willy.
I’m afraid OP that your son has uttered transphobic hatespeech. He should report to the Ministry of truth for reeducation immediately.

Melamin Wed 23-May-18 14:55:29

then there could be groups going into his school one day, professional looking groups, advising the government, and telling him those kinds of things could mean he's not really a boy.

That will be the GIRES penguins for 3 year olds then.

(Good to see they have corrected their grammar at last hmm )

Mxyzptlk Sat 26-May-18 21:44:15

Melamin, are those lessons being used in schools?

HawkeyeInConfusion Sat 26-May-18 22:12:09

I do the same overthinking OP. And I don't have any answers.

The comments underneath that video are encouraging though.

smithsinarazz Sat 26-May-18 23:02:59

@Melamin - all the words for girls' bits are taboo because, you know, girls are a bit shit. We know that. We've been told it all our lives. So therefore the rude bits of a girl are ruder by far than the rude bits of a boy.

Reclaim the fanny, that's what I say. Let us talk openly about our openings.

Polynerd Sat 26-May-18 23:08:44

My DD told me today that she wished she was a boy so she could have a penis. This was because she thought weeing would be more fun. When I pointed out that they were hard to aim and tend to spray in random directions she lost interest 😂😂

Teggun Sat 26-May-18 23:23:10

Mxyzptlk That video is beyond comprehension.
That Dr believes that a small child undoing the poppers on his onesie is a) creating a skirt and b) by creating this 'skirt' is proclaiming that he is in fact female..!?! WTF?? Is she serious?
I propose an alternative conclusion c) the child is proclaiming that he is a proud Scotsman who wears his kilt with pride.

ijustwannadance Sat 26-May-18 23:58:11

WTAF is that woman on about. Kids pull hair clips out because they either hate the feel of them.
Kids open poppers because they can. Not to make a bloody dress.
Fucking idiot.

4GreenApples Sun 27-May-18 00:06:44

That Dr believes that a small child undoing the poppers on his onesie is a) creating a skirt and b) by creating this 'skirt' is proclaiming that he is in fact female..!?!

Toddler DS3 did this the other day. Undoing poppers, that is.

It’s my belief that he undid the poppers because he’d prefer to be completely naked, and left the bodysuit on because he lacks the dexterity to get it off over his head himself. The fact that he also removed his (thankfully clean) nappy is further evidence for my wannabe nudist theory.

AncientLights Sun 27-May-18 05:37:28

Agree that 'dr' or whatever she is, is totally misunderstanding the children's actions - why would a pre-verbal child associate hair clips etc with one sex or the other anyway? They often just hate having stuff on their heads.

These people are very dangerous.

Mxyzptlk Sun 27-May-18 06:42:35

Exactly, AncientLights.
I'm very worried for children and young people now, with this sort of stuff being pushed by 'experts'.

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