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How To Mainstream Something

Says the reader who forwarded this story to me, “Oh my, it’s over” [1]:

When Abby Scott of Monaca was 2, she told her parents she was a boy. As she grew, she disdained playing with Barbie and learned to play football.

For the past two years, the 8-year-old has refused to wear dresses or to let her mother do her long, curly hair, which has now been cut short. When a family member mentioned getting married someday, she said she would be wearing a tuxedo.

“She doesn’t want to do anything girly,” said her mother, Sara Markustic.

And that’s just fine by Ms. Markustic and Abby’s father, James Scott, who, like the rest of Abby’s family, and mostly all of her classmates, teachers, teammates, friends and neighbors respect that Abby is a gender-fluid child, who identifies most of the time with being a boy. And when Abby is identifying as a boy — such as when she plays football or is wrestling — she prefers to be known as Adam.

Abby’s gender-fluid story will be featured tonight at 10 on “Friday Night Tykes: Steel Country,” Esquire Network’s reality series about football in Beaver County. Adam is a lineman for the Monaca Little Indians, playing in a league with boys who are years older.

This world.

The reader, who lives in western Pennsylvania,  writes:


Helps to understand where this area is. One of the towns on this show is Aliquippa, one of the hardest of the hard scrabble mill towns, and the basis of the 1983 Tom Cruise football movie, All the Right Moves:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_the_Right_Moves_(film [2])

In 1983, football in Aliquippa was a stand in for manliness in a way that was probably to hard headed and dysfunctional.

But now, in this same area… This.

Decline and fall.

Any bets on where this is going next? Friend of mine’s kid goes to a high school where there’s a senior girl who insists that she’s a wolf, and demands that everyone treat her as a wolf. Because it would be bigoted not to, I guess.

91 Comments (Open | Close)

91 Comments To "How To Mainstream Something"

#1 Comment By Harvey On April 5, 2016 @ 3:28 pm

Back when I was in junior high, the school segregated students who wanted to play football by height and weight. As I was small and light for my age group, there were certainly girls who could have played in my group.

For heavens’ sake, people, she’s 8. If the school matches her up with other kids of her size and weight she could play effectively with boys for years. And basic cable is chock full of soft-scripted reality shows with parents misbehaving. Does anyone really care about who’s on Dance Moms?

#2 Comment By Pogonip On April 5, 2016 @ 3:36 pm

Chris Rawlings: she explained all THAT by meowing? I’m impressed.

I noticed they did not ask her whether she used a toilet, a litterbox, or the neighbor’s flowerbeds. They should have. Also should have asked her to justify why, since she has no owner, she should not be hauled off to the animal shelter and killed if no one claims her after 3 days.

#3 Comment By kgasmart On April 5, 2016 @ 3:44 pm

but, look, we’re still figuring out how to deal with this whole gender dysphoria thing. As a society, we’re proceeding by trial and error on this as we do in all other matters.

But why is this on society’s front burner?

Seriously – what percentage of Americans are trans? We’re talking less than 1 percent. That tiny minority has gotten an inordinate amount of press coverage over the past year or so; the legalization of gay marriage broke the dam, so to speak, and suddenly transgenderism, gender identity and gender fluidity is showing up on page 1 of major newspapers, etc.

Why? At what other point in our collective history has so much ink been spilled, so many arguments waged over so tiny a minority? And at what point did we decide that so tiny a minority requires everyone else to change their thinking, their standards, their bathrooms?

#4 Comment By The Lost Dutchman On April 5, 2016 @ 3:55 pm

if im legally required to treat this living organism as a Dragon, can I shoot it if it wanders on my property?

Only if you identify as St. George.

#5 Comment By Gene Callahan On April 5, 2016 @ 3:55 pm

@delurking: “What I don’t understand is why you’re so upset that my kid is genderqueer.

“Why is this such a threat to you?”

You’re mixed up here: it is not that your kid is a threat to Rod. It is that you are a threat to your kid.

#6 Comment By Mike On April 5, 2016 @ 4:39 pm

Take a look at Eve Tushnet’s novel “Amends” – fascinating in its own right and with a young woman who also claims to be a wolf.

It’s coming! It’s coming!

#7 Comment By John On April 5, 2016 @ 5:27 pm

Obviously I meant “but” and not “bit.” This is what you get for typing on an iPhone.

#8 Comment By a commenter On April 5, 2016 @ 5:30 pm

There are many reasons why cultural conservatives will lose this battle (among them the impetus of gay marriage and the LGBTQ rights movement), but tantamount to their defeat will be this embrace of cruelty and bullying and all-or-nothing thinking.

This is not going to win over the increasing number of Americans who work with/love/know people who are transgender/gender fluid. Because, of course, they are people, and whether or not you agree with their choice of personal identity, they deserve a basic level of respect. The fact that they identify as a different gender does not make them murderers or rapists, and, clearly, the attempt to paint them as such is backfiring in a big way. You can look to recent history (i.e. the SSM movement) to see that this rhetoric no longer works.


This is mere propaganda. No one is interested in promoting bullying of transgender people or anyone else. I have a number of cute dresses in my closet that no longer fit me and I would be more than happy to give them to any transperson who wants them. I can cheerfully refer to any transwoman by whatever pronouns she likes. Ciswomen want the very reasonable accomodation for ourselves and other girls, that we not be forced to view or be viewed naked by people with disparate genitals in spaces that were set aside for our private genital care. This very reasonable desire has been translated by the LGBT lobby into emotionally manipulative and misleading terms like “basic level of respect” and “separate but equal” so that they can entire private spaces set aside for women and stomp all over the basic privacy rights of ciswomen and cisgirls without having the courage to admit that’s what they are doing.

Ciswomen and cisgirls are going to lose this battle. We all know that it’s just a matter of time. The LGBT lobby is wealthy and powerful in politics and money. And it’s certainly not because those of us who want our nakedness to remain private are cruel or bullying others. It’s because people like you are trying to hide the reality of what is being done to us behind pretty platitudes, while simultaneously labeling us bigots and prudes and whatever other nasty names you can come up with.

Yes, we’re going to lose, but that doesn’t make it right.

#9 Comment By Moderate Mom On April 5, 2016 @ 5:31 pm

For those saying that the parents are doing the “right” thing, all I can say is I think you’re insane.

I was somewhat of a Tomboy growing up, playing catch with my father in the backyard, dodge ball with boys in the neighborhood, and while in early middle school, my parents jokingly called me Basketball Jones, because I spent most of my free time in the driveway, shooting baskets. Granted, I didn’t have a problem wearing a dress when the occasion warranted it, but a girly-girl I wasn’t. I even had a pixie cut, because it was easier to take care of.

Then I went through puberty, started getting a chest and developed an interest in boys as something other than as playmates. I had always been a girl, had known I was a girl, and can’t remember ever thinking how much better things would be if I were a boy. I certainly never wanted to be one. I had been a tomboy, and then I became a bit of a girly girl, wearing makeup and curling my hair that had grown out.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Abby wanting to dress like a boy or play boy games. But here parents calling her Adam on her boy days and Abby on her girl days is just nuts. It’s even more nuts that school officials are tolerating this nonsense. Most kids that think they are the sex opposite of their true sex usually grow out of it during puberty. From statistics I’ve seen, more than 80% of them do. What a tragedy it would be for her parents to approve of puberty blocking drugs and then having to deal with the ramifications of what they had allowed to be done to their child, when that child comes to identify with their birth assigned gender. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a type of child abuse.

I didn’t see it mentioned, but have the parents taken Abby for any type of counseling? Or did they just say “Ok, cool” when Abby decided at age two (!) that she was a boy?

#10 Comment By cecelia On April 5, 2016 @ 6:22 pm

geez – so she is not your typical girly girl. I loved football as a kid – but realized after getting smashed hard one day that it was not my sport.

What makes this a problem is that in our crazed world – she will be perceived as trans and may even be persuaded she is.

What is it about wealthy societies that they all loose whatever common sense people had?

#11 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On April 5, 2016 @ 6:31 pm

M. B.

But you are losing, and will continue to lose this issue completely if you act in an openly cruel and mean-spirited way toward anyone who does not follow your religious tenets.

What you call acting in a non-cruel way means simply refusing to take responsibilty for your children, which includes not indulging their whim or their obvious inability to make sense of things. At two-three years old children require guidance as to how things are, e.g., not being shown that there is something essential about them they cannot change, such as being a boy, not being a cat, and not being able to fly like a bird. It also includes showing them what is a well-adjusted behavior and what is not.
You aren’t spoiling their play if you tell them the truth about what they are and what they are not. Then, of course, they will keep on playing, and rightly so.
So, I turn the cruelty accusation against you. Yours is the cruelty of parents who won’t take responsibility for their children because of a missplaced ideology of “identity”, “finding one’s true self” and “self-actualization”. The cruelty of those who are so afraid that their little ones can “unlike” them that they give up the firmness required to educate. The cruelty of raising a generation of unhinged, unhappy and unsatisfied adults.

#12 Comment By ARM On April 5, 2016 @ 6:42 pm

“The families almost never talk about these things, not even to the girls after they grow up. Would you?”

Uh, yes. Don’t you think the “girl” in question has a right to know she’s incapable of conceiving or bearing children when she’s grown up, if that’s something her parents and doctors know to be a fact, if nothing else?

#13 Comment By Eric K. On April 5, 2016 @ 6:56 pm

This specific case doesn’t really bother me that much. I think there are truly people whose minds don’t match their bodies. I don’t celebrate this as a distinct identity the way some people do; it seems more like a sad mental condition than anything else. I have a hard time believing this girl is just trying on a role for fun, as she’s been experiencing this since age two. My feeling is, if her eccentricities can be accommodated by the local community without harming others, than what’s the problem? She can wear whatever clothes she wants and if she wants to be called Adam, who cares?! And if it’s truly a mental condition (as opposed to a lark she’s engaging in to get attention) what’s wrong with them letting her play on the football team? I’ve heard lots of stories where schools made allowances for, even welcomed, people with disabilities and other conditions onto teams where they really didn’t fit. I see the reaction of this community as somewhat endearing to this girl with a serious problem.

What bothers is when a community decides that it can’t accommodate every eccentricity of people whose minds don’t match their bodies, or, in other cases, teens just trying out non-conformity, and the civil rights lawsuits start flying and people start being accused of being transphobic and haters because they won’t let a 17 year old boy in the girls’ locker room. Or the Justice Department gets called in and threatens schools. And you bet that as the entertainment/media complex attempts to mainstream this stuff, more people will do it as a lark. That’s where conservatives should step and stay say Stop the Madness!

But because a school let’s a confused girl on the football team and calls her Adam? Eh… Who cares.

#14 Comment By Eric K. On April 5, 2016 @ 7:00 pm

Joel, you wrote that 1 in 60 people have “at least one physical trait common to the opposite sex.”

Can you get a little more specific about what you mean when you say physical trait? Are you talking about women with a little hair on their upper lip or something more prominent like your friend with the breast? I ask because I’ve never been aware of any of these people.

#15 Comment By anori On April 5, 2016 @ 7:11 pm

+1000 to commenters who say that excessively rigid gender roles are the whole problem here. I wasn’t even a tomboy. I have always been terrible at sports. I played with dolls and don’t mind wearing dresses. But ever since childhood people have noticed something “off” about my gender presentation, and frequently people who meet me for the first time assume I am a lesbian. I admit I feel vaguely uncomfortable in my own skin, and maybe this is a gender thing – but maybe it’s not. Lots of people feel uncomfortable. I say cut down on all the identity policing and we’d have a better society.

#16 Comment By Anna On April 5, 2016 @ 7:23 pm

Why is a girl liking football and eschewing pink and frills coded as “gender fluid” ? That’s silly; why not let a kid be a kid ? [3]

#17 Comment By MichiganMan On April 5, 2016 @ 8:16 pm

“From what I understand, there is a certain percentage of children who don’t identify (or don’t fully identify) with their biological gender. In the past, parents weren’t keen on having “gay” children and would generally nudge (or, more commonly, strongly push) the child towards their biological gender identity. In the vast majority of cases, these children would eventually “click” with their biological gender, but a certain small percentage would not.”

This is the issue that people like Delurking simply cannot or will not wrap their heads around.

I had severe gender identity disorder as a kid, which persisted, albeit in a milder form, into my teens. I never breathed a word of it to anyone (it was a different time). It was awful and I was very unhappy. But I eventually “clicked” with my gender wholeheartedly. I’ve told a few people that I used to have this issue and they almost refuse to believe it; I come across as more ‘gender conventional’ than average I think.

People don’t want to hear it, but the constant shame I felt for years for not identifying with my own gender was probably what kept me from going over the edge until I finally sorted myself out. It was what kept me fighting against these feelings until I resolved them, instead of identifying as trans and calling it a day.

These taboos regarding gender conformity were put in place for a reason. I agree they should be loosened somewhat from what you see in certain hyper-traditional regions of the country. There’s nothing wrong with a girl playing football. But as a baseline, the taboo against actually identifying with the sex you are clearly not biologically part of should be maintained. For every kid out there with this issue who does not come around, there are probably five like me who need this taboo in order to do so. That is very unfortunate for the other kids. But there is no solution to a problem like this that is going to be one hundred percent effective, and you have to do what is in the interests of the majority.

I do feel very sorry for people who never “click” and I think that as adults they should be free to do whatever they need to do to live happy lives. But I know what I’m talking about when I say that lifting this taboo on transgender identification among children is going to wreck a lot of kids’ lives.

On a lighter note, a friend of mine told me that a girl in her daughter’s school dresses every day like an anime character and insists on being called by the anime character’s name. The friend is a Latino immigrant and her daughter apparently subscribes to some of the old country’s realism, because she told this girl that just because she sees something she likes on tv doesn’t mean she can become it… and got in a ton of trouble with the teacher and principal for it. Dear lord.

#18 Comment By Chris G On April 5, 2016 @ 11:01 pm

Leave her be. She’s not hurting anyone and she’ll probably grow out of it.

NB: “Leave her be.” means no medical treatments to suppress puberty or otherwise disrespect the body she has as well as not giving her a hard time for not conforming to traditional expectations for here gender.

#19 Comment By Jim On April 5, 2016 @ 11:24 pm

As to the wolf-girl…respect her wishes and release her into the wild.

#20 Comment By Aaron Gross On April 5, 2016 @ 11:55 pm

@Sir, I didn’t mean that the courts are perfectly logically consistent; only that they’re much more so than the rest of us. I think it was Justice Scalia who pointed out in one of his decisions that Congress can be logically inconsistent where the courts can’t, and that’s why it’s a good thing that decisions are left to legislators, not judges. (I thought this was from Edmund Burke and tried to find the source at the time, but couldn’t.)

#21 Comment By Gretchen On April 6, 2016 @ 12:04 am

One thing I’ve noticed as a new grandmother is that there is a huge increase in gendered everything pertaining to kids since I had kids. I was trying to find some simple kid’s sunglasses – red or blue plastic – and I literally couldn’t find any. They were all sparkly pink/lavender, or black with race cars or trucks. You had to pick boy’s or girl’s sunglasses. All children’s clothes are either pink/sparkly/girly, or aggressively boyish. I literally haven’t seen a picture of an infant girl in years that didn’t have a big, dumb flower or bow strapped to her head, because the absolutely most important thing about her that everyone looking at the picture, including strangers on Facebook, needs to know, is that this is a GIRL. I am completely mystified about why this has changed. When my kids were little 30 years ago, I bought clothes that could be passed on to the next kid, whether girl or boy, and kept all their hair short because they hated sitting still for fussy hairdos. I happened on a children’s party recently, and literally every single one of the girls attending was dressed in pink, lavender, or both, mostly with sparkles. Why the change? Why are people both so interested in pigeonholing kids into the extremes of gender identification, and drawing conclusions that the kids that don’t like the extremes of gender identification are some other weird category altogether, and we need to start renaming and hormone treatments, instead of just letting kids wear normal clothes and do normal kid things of their own choosing?
Finland sends a box of infant goods to every expectant mother in the country, including clothes. All the clothes are gender-neutral – greens and yellows – that can be used for all children and handed down to subsequent children. Why is the US so obsessed with pink sparkles and big stupid bows on the head?

#22 Comment By Aaron Gross On April 6, 2016 @ 12:05 am

@Matt, I was really unclear in my comment. By “trans-mania” I meant the whole pro-trans, SJW thing, not just people identifying as transgender. The latter will continue, though I think at much lower levels of the population, somewhere less than now but greater than, say, twenty years ago.

But to be more specific, in twenty years I don’t think there will be bathroom/locker-room controversies in the news—they’ll still be segregated, and problems will be handled quietly—nor will there be SJWs campaigning for trans rights. The pro-trans side will just lose this one, and the SJWs will move on to their next crusade. I think it will be accepted by most people that, for instance, Caitlyn Jenner is a man, and those who disagree won’t be making a big deal about it.

#23 Comment By Elijah On April 6, 2016 @ 7:36 am

“But why is this on society’s front burner?”

This – a thousand times this.

[NFR: The way the progressives pushing this stuff do it is to come up with some new transgressive cause, push it without stopping, accuse anyone who objects of being “obsessed by sex,” and finally win. The Sexual Revolution is the only revolution most left-of-center Americans (not you, Freddie de Boer!) care to fight. — RD]

#24 Comment By ARM On April 6, 2016 @ 10:57 am

“One thing I’ve noticed as a new grandmother is that there is a huge increase in gendered everything pertaining to kids since I had kids.”

This is so very true! When I was little (almost 40 years ago), the play-clothes I wore was not much different than what my son wears: red or blue shirts, jeans, denim overalls, etc. Skirts were just for Sunday.

Nowadays, no little girl would ever be dressed that way. Instead the poor things have to try to climb at the playground in stupid, impractical frilly dresses with leggings or something tight and inappropriately sexualized in some nasty shade of hot pink.

The same goes for the toy section at any department store – there’s no such thing as ungendered toys anymore, not even bicycles or kickballs, for crying out loud.

It’s deeply ironic given our culture’s lipservice to androgyny. Look at any Victorian picture book, and you’ll see children whose lives are far less gendered than that of a 21st century child.

#25 Comment By Joey On April 6, 2016 @ 11:20 am

@Gretchen: I think this kind of comes and goes in phases. Like, at least in terms of TV shows, I know that the ’80s were all about gender segregation, while the ’90s tried to be more gender neutral. Interesting points about how that may be affecting/affected by the whole “gender identity” thing.

#26 Comment By Joel On April 6, 2016 @ 11:30 am

Erik K., It’s here:


The full paper is paywalled, but the abstract says minor deviations from clear sexual dimorphism “may be as high as 2%”, with major deviations running at 1 or 2 per 1,000.

#27 Comment By VikingLs On April 6, 2016 @ 12:19 pm

Grumpy’s posts here are dead on as far as I’m concerned.

I mentioned this on another thread, not sure it posted, but were exactly does this leave gay men who don’t identify as girls.

“You like fashion?”


“You don’t like team sports?”


“You’re attracted to boys?


“Okay you’re a girl!”

Wait, no I’m not

“Obviously you are! You have female traits, therefore you are female!”

#28 Comment By M.B. On April 6, 2016 @ 1:09 pm

“What happens in a world where its seen as bigoted to push (or even gently nudge) a child with gender dysphoria towards their biological gender? What about a world where parents “celebrate” their gender fluidity? What happens to those kids that would have otherwise clicked with their natural gender, but are now not being encouraged the opposite way?”

The amount of armchair parenting going on here is kind of hilarious. Seriously, we could be talking about cosleeping here and the judgmental rhetoric would be the same.

As many of you have pointed out, the percentage of our population that is transgender is very small. So, excepting the commenter MichiganMan, who really tells kind of a sad story about his childhood, the majority of you (and of people in general) have no idea what is going on with these kids, these parents, and these families. And because you are internet commenters with a distinct agenda, you don’t see how ludicrous it is to claim you’ve got the perfect parenting remedy (a gentle nudge!! a harsh reality check!!) that will work every time.

Both conservatives and liberals on this thread have pointed out, quite rightly, that much of the current “questioning” that children are engaged in can be ascribed to to overly-strict and overly-policed gender roles. There is pretty much no safe space in our society for a child who doesn’t neatly fit into our fairly specious and ridiculous stereotypes (and to back this up I would refer you to the wonderful comment Rod just posted about the broken idea of masculinity in our culture). For this reason, I would AGREE that there’s a distinct possibility that parents and children are feeling pressured to “choose” to be transgender. To me, this is exactly why we need gender neutral bathrooms, and a concerted effort to counter the bullying behavior that goes on around gender in our society. Kids need to know that it’s OK to be a girl and love to have short hair and play football, that that doesn’t mean there’s something essentially unfit about you as a person. Kids who don’t look super girly need to know that they’ll be safe using the girls restroom, that they won’t be called out, questioned, or bullied for not having the latest sexually suggestive “tween” outfit.

I hesitate to speak for other parents, but, lord, among the parents I know in this community, the idea of having a gender nonconforming child came as a shock and generally not a happy one. Most parents took YEARS to accept the fact that there was something pretty different about their kid. Heck, look at this blog: If a person identifes as different in this arena, pretty much everyone hates them, suspects them of perversion, etc. It unbelievable to me that you folks think parents are actively encouraging their children to enter a life of potential ostracism, violence, and misunderstanding. And that then deciding to love our children when we realize that everyone else has made up their minds to hate them can be ascribed to wanting to be “chic”! Really, trust me, other than the weird fiction of whatever transgender reality show you might watch in the lamestream media, you have NO idea what these families go through. And also, believe me, most of us hang on the statistic that 85% of gender nonconforming children will go on to identify as their biological gender. We WANT our children to be happy in their bodies. We are trying to make accommodations for them so that they WILL be happy in their bodies. To every parent I’ve ever met who has a gender nonconforming child, the notion of medical intervention is a cause of angst. Bullying about gender roles and mean-spirited legislation does not help this cause, people.

“No one is interested in promoting bullying of transgender people or anyone else… Ciswomen want the very reasonable accomodation for ourselves and other girls, that that we not be forced to view or be viewed naked by people with disparate genitals in spaces that were set aside for our private genital care.”

I would argue that these laws offer no further protection for your private genital care in public restrooms that you didn’t have already. Transwomen will keep using women’s restrooms, transmen will keep going into men’s restrooms. Transgender people are not inherently creepy, and creepy people of all stripes will not be deterred by these rules, which are pretty much unenforceable. The idea that masses of men dressed as women are suddenly feeling liberated to go and be vouyeristic in women’s bathrooms is simply a fiction. You can find me an article in newsmax or something about the one creepy guy who dressed as a woman in order to see women going to the bathroom, and then I will find you a link to the story about the hundreds of trans people who have been sexually assaulted and/or beaten to death in public bathrooms in the last few years alone. I’m betting that you don’t know any of these folks personally, so you don’t understand that most gender nonconforming people are often terrified of using the bathroom. Locker rooms are a massively scary problem that this community is actively talking about. My opinion is that we need to provide more private spaces for those who need them (for whatever the reason). I recently heard about a trans kid at a local middle school who was being forced to use a locker room to change into PE clothes and was hiding/running away from school because of it. The LAST thing this kid wanted to do was change clothes in a public place full of people who could be intent on a full genital examination, and of course the last thing on her mind was staring at other people’s bodies.

“But why is this on society’s front burner?”

Ummm maybe because it is the juicy and delicious meat and potatoes of bible belt politicians? Because it can get folks riled up without requiring any actual measurable success in the governing of a state? Because it can serve as an effective cover for garnishing governing power from localities? I don’t know, you’ll have to ask the “culture warrior” politicians who are drawing such attention to the issue by producing these reactionary and unenforceable laws.

“[NFR: We’re not caaaaaaaring? Is there anything your side will not justify in the name of “safety” or “caring”? No. — RD]”

Well, er, exactly. I know that sarcasm was intended, but I will very happily concede that primary among my social and spiritual concerns is acting in a way that is caring and generous toward others.
And, also happily, I don’t actually know that I could name anyone in my immediate society who would disagree with this principle (liberal or conservative).

And, taken in context here, does your “anything” really refer to justifying acting kindly toward or providing safety for one’s kindergartner who doesn’t fit exactly with the standards of someone else’s religion? Is that really the “anything” you mean? Seriously, Rod, geez.

#29 Comment By John On April 6, 2016 @ 1:32 pm

“but I suppose the moral of the story is that a liberal parent will take their cues from their child, and a religious conservative would take cues from their religion.”

Well either way the parent isn’t grounded in reality.

Why shouldn’t parents who observe gender nonconformity in their children take their cues from doctors who specialize in these thing before reaching any conclusion?

#30 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On April 6, 2016 @ 2:06 pm

If she’s a wolf it would be legal to shoot her on sight, so let’s not treat her as a wolf.

Abby is more interesting. To what extent should Abby be told to suck it up and admit she’s a girl, because she is?

To what extent would Abby have grown out of the “I’m a boy” thing if nobody had either pounded it out of her, or catered to it, but let her play the games she wanted to or be athletic, or whatever? Maybe she said she was a boy because she thought girls weren’t allowed to climb trees, and then it became an obsession?

A lot of common sense angles to consider there.

ARM makes a lot of sense.

#31 Comment By Hyperion On April 6, 2016 @ 3:19 pm

Info about frequency of births that deviate from what historically has been termed “normal” anatomy.

According to wiki: The number of intersex people depends on the definition used. The Intersex Society of North America suggested that 1 percent of live births exhibit some degree of sexual ambiguity. Between 0.1% and 0.2% of live births are ambiguous enough to become the subject of specialist medical attention, including surgery to assign them to a given sex category (i.e., male or female).

#32 Comment By M.B. On April 6, 2016 @ 4:53 pm

“I turn the cruelty accusation against you. Yours is the cruelty of parents who won’t take responsibility for their children because of a missplaced ideology of “identity”, “finding one’s true self” and “self-actualization”. The cruelty of those who are so afraid that their little ones can “unlike” them that they give up the firmness required to educate. The cruelty of raising a generation of unhinged, unhappy and unsatisfied adults.”

Mr. Scalas, thank you for your concern for my child. Of course, having carried and birthed him, and mothered him through through early childhood, I feel rather more qualified than you to determine the education and parameters necessary to ensure that my child enjoys a whole and healthy personhood.

Comparing my child’s statements and actions to those of other children I have met who do not meet society’s gender expectations, my assumption is that my child will in fact eventually settle into his biological sex, and some equivalent gender expression. I could be wrong about this, and I will support and love him regardless.

But for now, my child simply cannot be “forced” into a Mr. Scalas or a Mr. Dreher’s conception of what it means to be a boy. His father before him did not meet the gender expectations of the day–not in choice of clothing, but in other very specific and apparently threatening ways, for the rural south, like wanting to take art classes–and no amount of beating, belittling, or forced involvement in violent sports “corrected” his identity to fit the ideal of masculinity proposed by the society around him. Now that man, my husband, supports a wife and two beautiful children, in a profession that capitalizes on his youthful, “gender nonconforming” pursuit of the arts and resulting successes in life. My father-in-law still can’t quite conceive of his son’s lasting aversion to hunting, but you better believe that every time they get together, he apologizes to his son for the beating and belittling. It weighs heavily on his conscience.

Will my child remember the moment when, after he threatened suicide, it “clicked” with me that I needed to accept that his identity was a little different than that of other children? Will he resent that moment, when I finally realized that my choice was to either take my kiddo shopping in the girls section of the Gap, or face many years years of depression in my first-born? Or will he remember and resent the years before that moment, when I forced him to wear clothes he hated, or bribed him sneakily into secrecy around his grandparents and extended family? How will we all look back on this? Gosh, who knows.

BTW, these days my-father-in-law will admit that he doesn’t exactly “get” what my child is going through, genderwise, but in both words and actions has vowed to love and care for both of my children, regardless. So, we’re all good over here in my family, Mr. Scala, thanks very much.

#33 Comment By M.B. On April 6, 2016 @ 4:56 pm

“Why shouldn’t parents who observe gender nonconformity in their children take their cues from doctors who specialize in these thing before reaching any conclusion?”

Oh, goodness, John, you don’t think we do? I have been talking to my child’s doctors about this for years. Guess what they all say?….Take cues from your child.

#34 Comment By John On April 6, 2016 @ 5:40 pm


I would have no problem with a taboo against reaching to conclusions for fear of misidentifying a person one way or the other. Perhaps someone who displays some of the signs of gender dysphoria should be brought before a specialist before anyone leaps to any conclusions.

I believe there are many cases where people are self-diagnosing based upon our culture’s rigid gender and (thankfully weakening religious) norms and that any departure from those norms (same-sex attraction, dress, or gender-nonconformity in play and or career plans) is a sign that you are in the wrong body. So caution before leaping to any conclusions is warranted.

But I wouldn’t maintain a taboo on those whose diagnosis is confirmed as such. It is what it is, and we shouldn’t be in the position of teaching people to hate or otherwise fell less if themselves simply because they are a small minority.

You benefited from this stigma because you yourself grew out of it.

Others won’t. Let’s not make life anymore difficult for them then it already is.

#35 Comment By Hyperion On April 6, 2016 @ 6:01 pm

re: “But why is this on society’s front burner?”

Well, on the stove at least, if not on the front burner. I think it’s a bit like circumcision, a topic previously not debated. It was a cultural or medical decision. Then people began to think more independently about it and some chose to skip it for their male children.

If the stats I quoted above are correct (around 1-2% of births demonstrating some gender ambiguity) AND if the previous “solution” has been a medical solution (surgery), it doesn’t surprise me that some parents say “Whoa, maybe we could skip surgery and see what happens”. And then people start getting educated about it.

#36 Comment By BobSberry On April 6, 2016 @ 9:30 pm

If you read to the bottom, she says she decides on whether to be Adam or not based on whether she brushes her teeth. I would speak to her dentist. This is madness.

#37 Comment By Gretchen On April 7, 2016 @ 12:19 am

M.B.: I’m sure you’re on a hard journey and I wish you good luck. It sounds like your child has a great advocate in you. That’s the best predictor of a good outcome: parents who accept and advocate for their kids.
I’m really puzzled about why the gender-policing is happening at the same time as increasing acceptance of sexual differences. Is it anxiety among the people who aren’t as accepting of those differences? In the 70’s and 80’s, there was a sense that any kid could grow up to be anything, and you didn’t want to limit them in toys or clothes or activities, and somehow that’s gone backwards.

#38 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On April 7, 2016 @ 9:16 am


In the 70’s and 80’s, there was a sense that any kid could grow up to be anything, and you didn’t want to limit them in toys or clothes or activities, and somehow that’s gone backwards.

Simply because then there wasn’t this level of ideologization.
Stricter gender policing, which I agree may be harmful since, for instance, may lead to hypersexualization, is a reaction to this.
That there are multiple ways of being a boy or a girl should be obvious. But that those multiple ways are incased in the ideology of Gender Theory is an absolute novelty.

#39 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On April 7, 2016 @ 9:28 am


Of course I can’t dispute the fact that, as a rule, parents know better.
But since you have chosen to bring this discussion from the general to the particular, may I ask you what does “gender nonconforming” means in your particular case?

#40 Comment By Anne On April 7, 2016 @ 2:39 pm


I appreciate your struggle, but why would it be so bad for parents to simply go with the flow, by which I DON’T mean accepting that their child is the opposite of her biological sex, by letting her call herself Abby one day and Adam the next until she ultimately “clicks” with her proper gender ID? Parents of tomboys have, in fact, adopted that strategy in the past before gender fluidity was ever a concept. It’s true that boys rarely, if ever, received similar laissez faire treatment, but are you sure less fear and trembling on your part might not have ended in the same “click,” just with less accompanying it?

#41 Comment By Anne On April 7, 2016 @ 2:42 pm

That was supposed to have read “just with less angst accompanying it.” Typing too fast of late…sorry.