So a friend of mine posted the following meme recently. She’s pretty liberal herself, so I was surprised to see it and even further surprised to see her defending it after another one of her friends told her it was trans-phobic and she shouldn’t post things like that if she’s not trans-phobic. Her stance seemed to be that she saw both sides of the issue and that since sex and gender can be fluid, a news source shouldn’t be trying to spread information that “makes everybody think their kid might be trans.”
I’ll share what I responded with- although I’m removing names. Please feel free to copy and paste or use any of these words if it might help you to have a dialogue with someone in your own life.
(EDIT: A couple of days later, my friend graciously admitted that she understood my point. Instead of choosing to take her post down, however, she left it up- to show people that, even in 2020, people can learn from and engage in respectful discourse.)
Hey friend— I’m not going to say you’re being transphobic- because I definitely know that you’re an ally and good to others. But in this instance– the meme you shared is taking something that says “Sometimes trans kids start to notice those tendencies in themselves early” and twisting it to basically say that “kids are being labeled as trans when they’re not”… which is not at all what that NBC article was saying should happen or what any reliable research points towards.
All the article/research is saying is that sometimes trans children start to notice or appreciate their gender-identity even if it doesn’t match their sex-identity at a young age.
Recognizing that some trans-gendered people can trace their understanding of their identity back to a young age and the play they participated in at that age doesn’t mean that kids who are cis-gendered will be pushed into a trans-gendered box.
Which is the reason that this meme IS a little trans-phobic even if you personally are not. No kid is being FORCED into being trans-gendered . MANY trans kids are being forced into being/acting cisgendered/straight/etc.
It’s totally normal for any kid, regardless of their assigned sex to play with any toy regardless of the societal gender-norms placed on said toy(s). That IS true- if that’s what you’re getting at.
But the reason it’s important for an article/research to point out that sometimes trans-gendered people can trace it back to a young age, is just so that when they ARE old enough to make decisions about their identities and look for medical procedures if they want- that they can point out their established history with their providers.
Gender dysphoria and/or accepting a trans-gendered identity is a long process that is not the result of a parent “labeling their kid as trans”.
If a parent goes over-the-top with trying to be supportive of their “gender-non-conforming-or-tom-boy-or-girly-girl-kid” and gives them alllll of the toys that support whatever they might think that kid’s identity is…the worst thing that will happen is that child might explore more toys than they otherwise would have had the inclination to. Eventually their kid will say- “hey I’m not interested in those toys or things” and their overly supportive parent will run in another overly supportive direction.
But the worst thing that happens when a parent goes over-the-top with trying to force their gender-non-conforming child into a cis-gender identity is that they are wrong– their child IS trans-gendered- and that kid eventually develops loads of mental health issues and trauma.
Like I said- I know you’re a good person and want to be a good ally. But I can almost guarantee that like 98% of trans people- including your own trans friends who you mentioned earlier- will feel pretty stung by a meme like this. And if it’s something you posted because it made you laugh a little- that’s totally fine because it IS your facebook- but I felt like I couldn’t not share with you that it’s pretty hurtful and it would be much kinder to take it down.