Thursday, May 8, 2008

Taking Away Their Toys

I'll just pretend to post this here for the benefit of my readers (uh-huh) who don't read Slog, and not because I'm blowing my own horn again.

You may have heard about the recent NPR broadcast about the little boy who wants to play with dolls and wear pink, whose parents, on the advice of his psychiatrist, have taken a harsh approach to making him behave like a proper little boy and stop with this horrible fag nonsense. It's a heartbreaking story. Dan Savage Slogged it, and as usual I had to comment. My comment was adjudged to be good enough to get another Slog front page. Of course, I'm chuffed, but I also think it bears repeating. I'm proud of what I wrote:

Look, people. The boy isn’t asking to go in and have his willie chopped off. He wants to play with dolls. He wants to identify as a girl for a while. That doesn’t mean that he going to be transgendered when he grows up. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. Why don’t you deal with that when it comes up—or maybe let HIM deal with it? Then?

Nobody has to make a final, permanent, irrevocable decision when they’re six.

In the meantime, though, torturing him by taking away his toys and, most importantly, implanting in his mind the idea that WHO HE IS IS WRONG, is a really, really bad idea.

Nobody cares if you’re squicked out by gender reassignment surgery. Nobody cares. This isn’t ABOUT gender reassignment surgery. It’s about a little boy who is being turned against himself.

And, really, even if you think the surgery is “as bad as plastic surgery”, the correct response is—as always—”then don’t have it.” Adults who think it’s right for them have the right to have it EVEN IF THEY’RE WRONG. Even if they’re “making a terrible mistake.” It’s none of your damn business. And, you know, there is a large number of people for whom it absolutely WAS the right decision, and if they squick you out, it’s your damn loss, not theirs. I don’t have a problem with it, and I embrace my transgendered friends every bit as much as my gay and straight ones.

But that’s nothing to do with this tragic little boy. Maybe it will be someday. You don’t know, I don’t know, Dr. Mengele there doesn’t know, HE doesn’t know. He’s a little kid. Let him play with his toys.

I didn't say it there, but I'll say it here: if bullies beat up your kid, and you side with the bullies, I don't understand you at all.

Photo of pink child's coffins (by Maurycy Gomulicki) swiped from Pingmag.


harold hollingsworth said...

well said, well played!

Hilary said...

Hey, Fnarf! I'm an avid slog reader and I just wanted to say I always look forward to your hilarious and insightful slog posts.

Keep it up!!!

- Hilly

Mr. Poe said...

Remember Mudede's Slog "Boys"?

elenchos said...

You know, my mom agreed with us that breastfeeding is wonderful and all that, but she wanted to warn us that we don't want to breastfeed for too long or the other kids at preschool will make fun of our kid.

She was trying to help, but the fact is we will breastfeed for as long as it is beneficial, and if I will immediately pull my kid out of any preschool that tolerates that kind of bullying. I reject the whole notion that you have to let your kid be abused to teach the about the "real world". That's a cop out for not dealing with a problem.

Mary Jo said...

Kids at that age are very attached to mommies moods and hysteria. I just do not think this ever had to be that big of a deal. Now it's a whole trans gender issue when in reality it's a five or six year old who has no idea what trans gender is.
He just likes pink, dolls and cute clothes. Do you know how many cool neuteral styles for boys and girls there are out there. Pink shirts, caps, white pants and necklaces are all fine for boys. My husband and son have no problem wearing pink.
Sorry, but I think to push the whole idea that the boy is transgender or a whatever is idiotic! I want to ring the parents necks for letting this get to the news.
The boy just likes, pink and dolls and they should have let it evolve or pass. He's still a baby in my opinion.
This had nothing to do with the boys problem it had everyhting to with whacky, hysterical parents who I would love to bop upside the head.
Any parent that does not step in when bullies pick on their young child should have their hair pulled and spit on! I guess that makes me a bully : )

Mary Jo said...

Oh, and those coffins at first glance look like fancy, pink, frosted cakes!
Maybe I have been on a diet too long.

Matt from Denver said...

Elenchos, what age is preschool these days? Because there's no benefit to breastfeeding past the age of 2, not as long as your kid's solid food diet is healthy.

Sorry to hijack the thread, Fnarf. Elenchos might not even read this comment.

elenchos said...

Hey. I wasn't still checking this thread, but then I didn't need to, seeing how unlike certain <strike>Slogs</strike> blogs I won't mention by name, Blogspot is capable of sending me an email when a reply appears. Not that a certain other blog is a primitive, feature-barren mess. Or anything.

I generally agree with those who let kids stop breastfeeding when they're ready, whether that is 1 year or 3 or 4, rather than insist they develop at a certain rate. But I'm aware that opinions differ and I'm open to more information. There's plenty of time to sort that out.

In the context of what my mother was saying, she actually meant she thought we didn't need to breastfeed longer than 3 MONTHS, and that if we went on much longer than that we would risk taunts on the playground and in preschool. I'm sure she would have thought 2 years would put him at risk of being a laughingstock.

But I made clear that we planned to go significantly longer than 3 months and that I'll make sure one way or another that he isn't bullied. That goes for anything else as well. I think we live in a very dysfunctional society, so I have no intention of conforming or giving in to pressure to conform.

Matt from Denver said...

Good for you, Elenchos. You probably know that the American Pediatric board recommends doing it at least a year, and strongly recommends 6 months. My first daughter went a year and a half, and the last few months was almost all "comfort" nursing. I imagine my next daughter (now 4 months old) will go for that long, too.

I wonder why your Mom thinks the kids will tease your son? Do kids talk about that stuff in preschool? Oh well. Moms mean well, but their generation ain't ours.

Thanks Fnarf for not deleting this.

elenchos said...

I guess I don't take what pediatricians say too seriously -- the American Academy of Pediatrics didn't figure out until 1999 that breastfeeding is quote normal unquote. Pediatricians typically panic if an infant loses a little weight in the first few weeks, as milk production ramps up, and so they will recommend supplementing with formula. This of course decreases demand for breastmilk, causing a vicious cycle of even less milk production.

A veterinarian would never make this mistake. A farmer wouldn't make this mistake. Yet a typical pediatrician, even in the 21st century, behaves as if they aren't even qualified to care for any kind of mammal, let alone a human. It's depressing.

So my wife and I would be more inclined to rely on the opinions of a lactation consultant or the La Leche League rather than an MD.

I suppose my mother is remembering how it was in the 70's when the kids of hippie moms seemed a little weird to the kids of straight moms. It's not a big issue; she does understand that Seattle in 2008 is a bit more enlightened.

Fnarf said...

OK, guys. I'm as big a fan of sucking on titties as anyone, but you're going to get me bookmarked by La Leche if you keep this up, and my curmudgeonly credentials will be shot.

ally. said...

well said that man.

Christopher said...

Ahem. With regard to your curmudgeonly credentials, I hate to shoot them down, but you're arguing against bullying--and doing so in a very intelligent, thoughtful, funny (and, admittedly, slightly curmudgeonly) way. Anyway, if that makes you a curmudgeon we should all be so lucky to be one.

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