This TRFamily doesn’t enforce gender roles. We allow our son Bluey to pick out sparkly light-up shoes marketed to girls, if that is where his heart leads him. And we encourage our daughter, Plum, to fight against gender stereotypes as well as embrace make-up, if that is her desire. We have never instructed our kids to put back a toy because it is for the opposite gender. Nor have we ever encouraged them to “be a man” or “act like a lady.” The list of examples could go on and on and on.
We think that this philosophy is a big part of what causes gender confusion for adults and children when first encountering Bluey. Yes, Bluey has an incredible head of very curly hair. But there are many hip young boys that have longer hair styles. Yes, Bluey will occasionally choose to wear pink, or another clothing item that is seen by the masses as “girly.” But many boys and men are breaking out of the stereotypical male color spectrum and clothing styles.
So what causes so many people to question our son’s gender? What is the reason that children constantly ask Bluey if he is a boy or a girl? Bluey doesn’t have overtly feminine characteristics. He doesn’t bring any beloved dolls, or other stereotypically female toys, on our outings. Bluey doesn’t refer to himself as a girl. He isn’t questioning his identity or declaring his gender to be female.
Bluey does have a strong nurture trait. He is incredibly talkative. Bluey likes to engage with others while playing versus running amok destroying things and killing the enemy. He will happily play with either gender that will accept his friendship- girls are not “gross” to Bluey. He will admire a friend’s Barbie doll with as much attention as he will a friend’s brand new Transformer. Bluey watches My Little Pony with as much enthusiasm as he has for the latest Lego Ninjago episode. And did we mention that he likes to converse?
It is sad that these characteristics in a young boy seem to throw off the population at large. Everyone seems to second guess their initial assumption that Bluey is a boy. Shouldn’t a boy be much less interested in conversation? Shouldn’t a boy want to only play with the other boys? Why is this boy before me wearing pink? He must really be a girl!
We hear all the time, “She has such beautiful hair!” On rare occasion, Bluey will reply “I’m a boy,” or “I’m a he.” But usually Bluey ignores the pronoun directed toward him. What weighs heavily on TRMom and TRDad is that there is any suggestion of confusion in the first place. Our Bluey is comfortable with himself- do these conversations make him question whether or not he is okay?
Why is society so focused on boxing people up into neat little packages? And why must our son, at five, have to deal with almost daily intrusions upon his gender identity? What does it matter, people! We rarely correct anyone when they identify Bluey as female. It just doesn’t matter to us, and we don’t want Bluey to think that there is anything wrong with him.
Recently, a little girl met Bluey at the park and they played happily for about 20 mintues. The girl ran up to her mom and declared, “Bluey is my new friend. She’s awesome.” The mother felt the need to correct her daughter, “I think Bluey is a little boy.” And quick as that, the girl turned around to Bluey stating, “You’re a boy. I’m not playing with you.”
It’s moments like these that stump us. Why does the Mom need to correct this gender slip of her daughter’s? And why is her daughter’s response OK? Why do kids as young as four years old already believe that they can only play with friends of the same gender?
Bluey’s long time friends constantly criticize Bluey’s choices by saying things like- “Oh. that’s a girl’s shirt.” Or “That’s a girl’s TV show.” No amount of discussion with the friends- “There’s no such thing as a girl’s shirt. It’s just a shirt-” can penetrate the mountains of gender conformity pressure that kids experience today.
It makes us very sad, But we are incredibly grateful that our Bluey dares to do his own thing, in his own beautiful way. Regardless of society’s loud suggestion that he should change.