Starting from preschool, both boys and girls have been taught to act a certain way. We often hear the line “man up” for boys or “that’s not very ladylike” for girls. Girls and boys are expected to act a certain way but what if the child is not what they look like? What if a girl wants to be treated like a boy or vice versa. Kids should not be limited in this way because they may feel pressured to grow up not being who they truly are; ashamed.
In class last week, we had a guest speaker who was a 10 year in the process of having surgery in order to change her gender. I think it is great that this child came out to her parents telling them that she was a girl. Creating a safe environment for someone to be comfortable enough to share their true gender to their family is beautiful.
Both boys and girls are expected to behave a certain way. Girls are suppose to be calm, well-mannered, and very polite. Whereas boys are suppose to be rough, loud, brave, and are not supposed to cry. In Becoming a Gendered Body: Practices of Preschool, Karin A. Martin gives an example on how a girl should act when wearing a dress. Martine states, “Wearing a dress limited girls' physicality in preschool. However, it is not only the dress itself, but knowledge about how to behave in a dress that is restrictive. Many girls already knew that some behaviors were not allowed in a dress. This knowledge probablyc omes from the families who dress their girls in dresses.” Who made these restrictions for a girl when they wear a dress?Having these guidelines on how to be a girl or boy restricts both genders from being who they truly are. Kids should be able to express who they are as a person without restriction or judgement. With more freedom to express themselves at a young age, kids would not have to struggle with their identity and confidence at an older age.
Jamie’s mother did a really good job creating a safe environment for her children to express themselves. Jamie was able to openly express to her mother about her own gender preferences with little fear holding her back.
As time changes, societies’ perspective on gender has changed as well. People have become more accepting to the queer community and although we have come a long way, there is still many more miles to go. I think that starting at a young age, we should allow children to express how they want to dress, how they want to play, and how they want to be called. There are no strict rules on how to be a girl or a boy.
Boys and girls also teach each other how to behave. Thorne states, “kids create, shape, and police the borders of gender. I suggest that they do so physically. In this way, they not only sustain gender segregation, but also maintain a sense that girls and boys are physically different, that their bod- ies are capable of doing certain kinds of things. This sense of physical differences may make all gender differences feel and appear natural.” By having kids play and interact with one another, they learn about the physical abilities of one another. They learn there are different physical builds to both girls and boys but not that a girl or boy should act a certain way. It is not until adults intervene that kids expect a girl or boy to act or play a certain way.
Jamie has shown us that our society is changing and we are slowly becoming a more opened-minded and accepting community. Just because someone looks a certain way does not necessarily mean they must act a certain way. My mother and I were having a conversation about her clients at her business. She told me she had a small number of clients who married and 20 years later finally grew the courage to come out as the gender or person they truly are rather than hiding it for the rest of their lives. With a more accepting environment for kids, less adults, young adults, and children would struggle with their own identities.