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Overheard at the Bagel Shop: The Transformers Edition

March 9th, 2011

“She wanted a Transformer,” she said, with an expression made of equal parts amusement and disgust. “So we got her a bracelet making kit.”


Master was in the bathroom. I repeated the remark in my head until I could put it in His phone when He got back so I could remember it when we got home. And when I typed the words in, I showed it to Him.

“You guys make too big a deal out of stuff like this. Most kids don’t even remember. The only reason they remember is because people like you make a big deal out of it.”

“I remember. When I was a kid I wasn’t allowed to play with boys toys, and I remember.”

He could have countered with the fact that it’s possible that I remember because I hear people talking about it quite often around the blogosphere. Instead He just sort of looked at me. The woman closest to me at the table of the person who made the comment had heard what I said. She smiled at me. This oddly triumphant, “You’re totally right!” smile. But she never expressed her agreement to her friend. At least not in my presence.

There aren’t many people running around who don’t have some sort of fucked up experience from their childhood. Parents are people. They don’t know how to do it. They have ideas of how things are supposed to be based on how they grew up, the moral compass of the world around them, and their own personal bullshit filter. And we don’t always get it right. None of us.

But for Christ’s sake, does it really matter what kind of toys your kid wants to play with? Or, for that matter, someone else’s kid, since they were talking about a birthday party their kids were attending. And who the fuck are you to decide she can’t have a Transformer when she’s not even your kid?

Maybe Master’s right, and kids wouldn’t be bothered by it if people didn’t make such a big deal out of it. But I keep reading about kids who are not really concerned with what gender they are, so much as the things that they like to play with and wear. Stories about kids who are utterly confused, and heartbroken because they can’t just be who they are. And I hear adults talk about how it affected them. And it makes me wonder if there isn’t something to the idea that we’re stifling their creativity by stuffing them into gender boxes with distinctly different types of clothes, toys, colors, jobs, sports, hobbies…

A while back, Master said, “What difference does it make what kind of toys a kid plays with?” and I said, “Exactly.” Beyond the educational benefits, does it really matter? Shouldn’t they be able to play with what they find the most fun? I mean, so long as it’s not dangerous.

Master believes kids should be taught about gender because regardless of how a person identifies emotionally and mentally, physiology dictates very gender-specific bodies, from the way we look, to some of our medical conditions, and body parts. And I think He’s right. It is what it is. It’s tragic for those who are tormented by it, but as it stands, right now, there’s really not much to be done about it.

Equality for everyone, and lack of judgment based on gender identification would be awesome. And we can all hope that it will come. But I’m not sure not talking about it is the way to go. I’m not really feeling the “We should all just be genderfluid.” stance because while that might work out on an emotional and mental level, the physical is still there. Shutting our eyes and pretending it’s not doesn’t make it go away.

Talk about all of it. The boys, and the girls, and the boys who want to be girls, and the girls who want to be boys, and the people who are comfortable being firmly in the middle, and the ones who like to switch between all of the above. Talk about the fact that some people are okay with all of it, and some people aren’t. Talk about how it’s okay to have and express your own opinion so long as you’re not an asshole about it. That whole not trampling someone else’s rights when asking to have your own upheld thing.

Let people decide on their own who to be. Most of the time, it turns out all right. And accept them for who that is. I mean, unless they turn out to be a serial killer. Then we should probably lock them up. But you know.

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