I feel sorry for these parents who seem to think that cutting a girl’s hair makes her a boy.
If you watch the video you will notice that their “happy” solution is entirely dependent on Ryland being clothed and prepubescent. As soon as “he” hits adolescence then it won’t be society “he” will be fighting.
It will be “his” own body.
Notice that we are simply told that the suicides are due to societal non-acceptance. But if there was evidence that the suicide rate for transgenders in an accepting environment is vastly lower than the suicide rate in a non-accepting environment, wouldn’t we hear of it? Why is such evidence never summoned?
Consider the alleged “medicine,” (i.e. body-altering chemistry—“medicine” is a word that requires a concept of healing; I won’t use it in reference to these hormonal treatments) that will be needed when this girl gets older. Ryland will be fed drugs to delay biological development so that “he” can then be irreversibly mutilated with an artificially constructed phalloplasty that does nothing that real male genitalia can do. As I see it, the suicide rate could easily be explained without recourse to blaming the non-delusional. This is going to be a hard life.
The quotation from Harvey Milk is nauseating, as is the footage from the event in his honor. The man was a philandering pedophile, not a role model for anyone. His lifestyle, from any point of view, was nothing like the family life portrayed in the video.
But, to return to the haircut issue, the most notable thing is that it relies so heavily on gender stereotypes. Your daughter didn’t like your pink room so… she has to be a boy to get a blue room. No wonder she didn’t want to be a girl if all her preferences were considered unfeminine.
Yesterday, I saw a blogger’s amazing response to this family’s video. Lindsey Leigh Bentley writes:
I was born the second daughter to two loving, amazing, supportive parents. They would go on to have 2 more daughters. The four of us couldn’t be more different, even down to our hair and eye color. Our parents embraced our differences and allowed us to grow as individuals, not concerned with the social “norms” for girls. I often joke that I was the boy my dad never had. My dad is a free spirit, 100% unconcerned with what people think of him, and he thought nothing of “out of the box” behavior. I function more as a firstborn than a second born (however, this does not make me the firstborn, amiright?)
Anyhow, even as a baby I seemed to prefer “boy” things. I was rough, tough, and daring. My parents had to cut my curly hair short because I would twist it into knots and refused to let my parents brush it. I once managed to make my way onto the second story roof, and was gleefully running around, as my parents had simultaneous panic-attacks. My toys of choice were sticks, sling-shots, bows & arrows, guns, mud, motorcycles, and monsters. When my sister and I picked out “My LIttle Ponies” I chose a blue one, and promptly cut all of that lustrous long hair off as short as possible. My barbie also got the chop.
I loved going on hunting trips with my dad and thought it was amazing when he taught me to pop the head off a dove. (PETA, please, no…just. No.)
I wanted to be a boy. Desperately wanted to be a boy. I thought boys had more fun. I felt like a boy in the way that our society views genders. I liked blue and green more than pink and purple. I remember sitting up as high as I could climb in our huge mulberry tree, bow & arrow in hand, trying to kiss my elbow (a neighbor lady had told me that if I could accomplish this, that I would turn into a boy, which was what I wanted in that moment, as a child, more than anything.)
Thankfully, my parents didn’t adhere to the archaic stereotypes that “boys like blue” and “girls like pink;” that “boys play with dinosaurs, and girls play with dolls.” Had they told me that liking these things made me a boy, I would have concluded that I was a boy.
She goes on giving many more concrete examples of why, today, she would be considered transgender. It is an amazing piece. Of course, once she hit puberty she, while keeping many of her “boyish” traits, developed an interest in males as something other than pals and eventually got interested in being married and having babies. So she did.
These things don’t make us gay or transgender, they make us unique human beings.
Because my parents never forced me to, I never considered if some of the things that I enjoyed were “boy” things or “girl” things, I was just me. When we begin to tell boys that they must act “this” way, and that girls should act “that” way, and that if they don’t, they are transgender; we put children in these tiny boxes that create confusion, frustration, and sometimes, lifelong psychological and emotional damage.
I still remember when Bradley Manning said he wanted to be named “Chelsea” from now on. It seemed so bizarre. He was basically claiming that “Bradley” couldn’t be a girl’s name and that “Chelsea” was safely feminine.
The entire madness depends on gender stereotypes.
I am so thankful that my parents gave me the freedom to act more boyish than my sisters. I am thankful that they didn’t freak out, or make any life-altering decisions for me. I am so thankful that, for a season of my life, I was allowed to act more like a stereotypical boy than a girl. I am also thankful that I was allowed to become more feminine later in life, when it felt natural to do so.
I hope that Ryland’s parents will offer her this same freedom.
I hope so too.