Two years ago, on vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains, I saw a white couple at a restaurant with their Asian daughter. Though her father told her to quit staring, I felt the girl’s eyes on me all through the meal. I smiled at her, feeling a strong sense of kinship, a pang of sympathy. As a child, whenever I saw another Asian person – which I hardly ever did – I used to stare, too, hungry for the sight of someone, anyone, who looked like me.
Growing up in 4-H, I heard the joke often: girls would rather give up boys than our ponies. When women talk about horses, they often speak of freedom and power, of connectivity and understanding, of trust—often using the same language we use when we discuss intimate relationships with humans.
Welcome to the latest installment of Ms. Opinionated, in which readers have questions about the pesky day-to-day choices we all face, and I give advice about how to make ones that (hopefully) best reflect our shared commitment to feminist values—as well as advice on what to do when they don't. This week: When is it a "good" time to have a baby?
When the Washington Post featured a story about a transgender five-year-old last week, online commenters accused the parents of overreacting to harmless "tomboyishness." But parents who listen to their kids, allow their kids to live as their preferred gender, and guide them through consensual medical decisions are choosing life for their children when the alternative could be far more serious than a temper tantrum.
I'm devoting this entire week to gender-nonconforming kids and the parents who raise them. Later I'll follow up with parent and Bilerico blogger Paige Schilt, who will share her perspective on parenting during the genderpocalypse.
But first, here's last year in parenting, an overview:
A recent article in TIME magazine reveals a study that says kids are not getting outside enough. It is the girls who are neglected the most—they're 16% less likely than boys to be taken outdoors. Really?
Yesterday, CNN did a story on the Gender Spectrum Family Conference, a "unique gathering dedicated solely to the needs of transgender and gender nonconforming children and teens, their families and loved ones, and the community of professionals and allies who surround them."
The great thing about the video (embedded below), is that the adults—parents and CNN reporters alike—allow the kids to speak for themselves. As one kid, Tammy's, mom had to say, "If you give your child the opportunity to be who they are, they know very well who they are."
Last week, Time published "Kid Crazy: Why We Exaggerate the Joys of Parenthood." This piece focuses on studies from the journal Psychological Science about parenting, and the take-away is the same as the New York article (so much so that it's mentioned in Time): childfree couples are happier, parents have it rough, and those who think they don't are sort of delusional. ("Delusional" is not my word, by the way; that's from the meta title Time chose for the article on their website and one tossed around in the article, based on the study findings.)