Sometimes Boys Wear Skirts

“My Heroes” — Landwirth Legacy Productions, LLC

While I am still fairly early in my parenting journey, I am already convinced that my kids were put on this earth to teach me the lessons that I most needed to learn. Patience being number one on that list. My girls could not have two more different personalities or outlooks on life. It has been both a relief and disappointment to realize that to a very big extent, they came pre-programmed. My girls came with there own unique OS X 1000 operating system. While my wife and I as parents can install Apps (values, skills, confidence, education etc), their ability to run those Apps is controlled by their pre-programming. If little T’s pre-programming is heavily geared towards artistic leanings, there is no amount of Physics classes will make her an engineer like Mama Karla. It may make her proficient through practice but it will never match the passion she has for art. This thinking as parents may be helpful when thinking about gender and sexuality, or any preference really.

The beautiful PSA above was done by Landwirth Legacy Productions, a company that aims to create entertaining and educational visual content that enrich, empower, and inspires. It shows a family celebrating Halloween by carving pumpkins before the kids head out to trick or treating in a Batman and Wonder Woman costume. At the end of a very fun and exhausting day, you see the dad lifting his son into his bed and tucking him in with his wonder woman costume still on. As soon as I saw it I sent it to the parents of a darling little Wonder Person in my life who wore the same costume this weekend for Halloween. I then showed it to my kids, to reinforce what we tell them constantly; there is no boy and girl anything! Not for costumes, toys, clothing sports etc. In fact, my 6-year-old almost had it out with a classmate we saw while trick or treating because he asked her sister “Why did you not have chosen another costume?”, when he saw her dressed as Batman. They have been taught to stand firm in their beliefs and speak up.

My kids know, accept and love two dear friends who are under 7 and gender fluid. I am able to expose them from a very young age that we respect the wishes and feelings of others when it comes to their gender expression. I have already explained to them that one’s sex and gender are two different things and sometimes they don’t point in the same direction. I am blessed to be surrounded by predominantly open minds on gender and sexuality issues. But I know this isn’t true everywhere. I recently saw a post from a mother on Pantsuit Nation whose daughter wanted to wear a white suit to her first communion. Her Catholic school quickly instituted a dress code upon hearing from another parent what was planned. That mother had to pull both her kids from the school and find them a more welcoming place. This!!! Over some pants! It’s not 1916 anymore!

But, this I believe; I don’t have to understand something completely to accept it. I don’t 100% understand the physics of what makes a plane fly, but I get on it anyway.

There is no doubt that America’s collective minds have opened greatly on Gay and Lesbian Issues. In a Pew Research Center poll in 2001, Americans opposed same-sex marriage by a margin of 57% to 35%. In the latest poll taken in June 2017, support for same-sex marriage has grown to significantly. A majority of Americans (62%) support same-sex marriage, while 32% oppose it. Yet, it’s as if our collective mind opening muscles are exhausted. We are stumbling over Trans rights as we bicker about who is worthy of taking a leak where. Our minds are blown by the concept of Non-Binary and Gender Non-Conforming. Some doctors are still advising parents to choose their intersex child’s sex as infants and performing unnecessary operations on them.

There are so many new additions to the GLBTQIA (or even sometimes GLBTQQI2SAA) umbrella, even a card-carrying member like myself struggles to be able to clearly define and understand all the factions. But, this I believe; I don’t have to understand something completely to accept it. I don’t 100% understand the physics of what makes a plane fly, but I get on it anyway. We cannot and should not tell anyone that what they feel to be their identity is not correct.

Some people draw the line at children. They say as an adult you can decide, but at 5, a child is too young to know. A 5-year-old child doesn’t actually put a label on things very often, it’s us adults who try to do that. The 5-year-old, however, knows exactly how they feel inside and those feelings must be validated. After all, their desire to wear a dress as a boy or a suit as a girl could mean that they are Trans, Gender Non-Conforming, Non-Binary, Questioning, Gay or just checking out how the other side dresses for a day…who knows! They don’t need a label at that age, and no sane doctor ever labels a child at that age. They just need to be supported and given the space to explore and be themselves. They need to live their truths and be comfortable around their families, friends, and community, regardless of what they wear and what pronoun they prefer.

The concern of a parent for a child who is expressing gender fluidity was not glazed over in the video. You could see the mix of worry and joy in their eyes in almost every scene. And that, in a nutshell, is parenting. Letting our children chart their own course and make their own way as we walk beside them with love and support. For some kids, their journey off the beaten path starts a little earlier and that is indeed scarier for parents as they worry about bullying, self-esteem issues and a potentially hard road ahead. That hard road is not because of who the child is, however, it’s as a result of the closed-mindedness of the people they encounter. So I send these parents my love and support and I do my part to make sure that my kids will be allies and upstander for their kids on the playground and in school.

This video brought me to tears. The beauty of unconditional love is heartwarming. My kids were all grins when I showed it to them. My 4-year-old T felt particularly empowered by it as she too was Batman for Halloween and usually prefers superhero costumes to princess dresses any day of the week. So here is your small action (SMACTION), show this video to your kids and open up the conversation about the sexuality and gender spectrum. Tell them that every one of these is valid and that ultimately, it does not change who the person is as a friend and human. Regardless of where someone identifies or appears on the spectrum, they deserve their kindness and acceptance. It’s never too early. Kids have no stigma about these things until society tells them they should. Beat society to the punch and start the conversation first. May the next generation a more compassionate and open one.

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Karla Thomas

Karla Thomas

Karla Thomas is an Anti-Racist & Equity Consultant & Trainer, Writer, Activist & Entrepreneur.