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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Anneke and her iPod

Gender what?

When I tell folks A. is gender fluid I am most often greeted by a polite smile and an uncomfortable pause. Understandable really... I just learned the term about a year ago at the Gender Spectrum Families conference in Seattle (www.genderspectrumfamily.org). It fit so perfectly to A. and her current gender identity. S/he agrees too. A. was one of the few kids at the conference who did not feel trans-gendered, trapped in the body of the gender they did not identify as. Some days she feels male, others more female.

I found this great definition;

gender fluid
Gender Fluid is a gender identity best described as a dynamic mix of boy and girl. A person who is Gender Fluid may always feel like a mix of the two traditional genders, but may feel more boy some days, and more girl other days.
Being Gender Fluid has nothing to do with which set of genitalia one has, nor their sexual orientation.
No, I'm not a boy, and I'm not a girl either. I am gender fluid.

I frequently ask A. if she prefers being referred to as he or she.
"I don't really care," is her most common reply.
As a parent, I have to say this in between place is hard. From birth you are asked if you had a girl or a boy - a decision is made and an identity is assigned (whether we like it or not.) I often catch myself feeling impatient, just wanting her to decide on a gender. It's clearly not that simple.
I remind myself that its not about me - its about Anneke. S/he is gender fluid and happy. How hard it must be to be 12 and be gender fluid. How brave it is to firmly, and with certainty maintain that gender fluidity despite the intense pressure from society and peers.
At the conference midwife, author and educator Stephanie Brill said it best - "Listen to your child, they know who they are, it it often won't fit into our preconceived notions of gender - they know who they are, we just have to listen and learn."