Friday, January 07, 2011

What kind are you?

I want to clarify and expand on my post yesterday about boys and girls. It's easy for me to say that my son can wear whatever he wants.

Good lord, after some of the horrific clothing choices I've made, I'm not in any position to critique another's apparel affinities.

But this thread runs deeper in 3B. For some time, he's identified as a girl about half the time, and he almost always identifies with and becomes most attached to women in stories. After watching Scooby Doo for the first time, he wanted to play Scooby Doo with us. Who was he? Daphne, of course. After seeing Toy Story 2, did he want to be Buzz or Woody? No, Jessie, of course. And so on.

I've often said that if you think you don't have any buttons to push, your kids will find them for you and then tap dance on them, and in these transgendering moments, 3B has found one of mine. Not that I'm opposed to transgendered people, but that I can't wrap my mind around my own son being a girl.

Part of that is because his gender is part of my identity: I'm the father of a boy and a girl. But what if I become the father of two girls?

Now, to be honest, one of my first reactions when this thought crossed my mind was that we paid a doctor $4,000 dollars to reach up into his abdomen, pull down his second testicle and sew it into his scrotum, so I'll be goddamned if he's going to cut the thing off now.

But I was really just kidding.

And my second reaction was a question to myself: Dude, why are you buggin? I mean, c'mon, I grew up in the androgynous 80's and loved Prince, David Bowie and a slew of hair bands that all bent gender stereotypes so far that they broke most of them.

As I reflected on this question, I realized that my being the father of a boy or my son being a boy--or a son, for that matter--aren't what's most important to me about his identity. It doesn't matter so much whether he has, as my father used to say, indoor or outdoor plumbing. What's most important to me is whether or not he's kind and compassionate.

This thought reminded me of the Dalai Lama's question: What is a Tibetan? It's a poignant question for a man banned from his homeland and who can easily foresee that his reincarnation will be born outside of Tibet.

And so, indeed, what is my son? In answer, I have only one question: are you kind?

Truly, I don't believe that 3B is transgendered. I believe that he's exploring all that the world has to offer him as he discovers it, just as after he sometimes likes to pretend that he's a kitty cat or a scary monster or Zorro. But I'm forever grateful to him for teaching me such a profound lesson about the meaning of our identities and how to view people in a meaningful way.

Now, if he could teach me to carry a tune, that would be a true miracle.

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  1. poohbear
    My daughter likes Woody, so I am sure she is glad when they play, she can be Woody.

  2. He will be glad of that too. Especially if she's got her lines memorized, unlike his parents.