Gender and life’s other mysteries

I’m soooo tired, partly because our new mattress is hell (and we’re arranging for a replacement, thank God) and partly because today is CD1.

This is the first CD1 of mine that’s ever been really significant to me/us, because it is the first one that we’re counting, just to see what my cycle’s like – usually boringly regular – and to make me feel important and TTC-y. Not that a lot’s happening on that front, though. I’m booked in for a scan in a couple of weeks’ time, then when my GP has all my blood results from the NHS (except for the one for anti mullerian hormone, which is too new and expensive for the NHS to do, so I AM GOING TO HAVE TO HAVE MY BLOOD DRAWN AGAIN, AGH), we’ll make an appointment to talk to her again and get a referral to the clinic. All being well, anyway. Fingers crossed.

But anyway, we have “CD1” written on our calendar in green today. I’m also running a lot; I enjoy it and it’s a good psychological trick to make me feel like I’m doing something to help get pregnant, when really, I need to give up coffee more than anything else. Sigh.

In other news, what’s this crap with gender ID that we keep coming across?!Β  It’s starting to do my head in.Β  Frequently in the playground, BB is referred to as “she” or as in, “Calm down, now, and let the little girl go down the slide first.” That little girl would be our son, ma’am, but we can’t be bothered to tell you because … we just can’t.

Is it even important? It obviously is to the people who often ask me, “Boy or girl?” and then eye me suspiciously when I say “A boy” or laugh in mild embarrassment when I say “A boy with long hair”, as I’ve taken to doing recently. One day I’m simply goingΒ  to say “Why do you want to know?”

It is really fucking weird, though, how there are these rigid social rules that determine that little John must have short hair and play only with cars, while Jane should be dressed in pink and push her doll around all day. Why?! BB clearly loves playing with cars, but equally he loves playing with the baby doll we gave him the other week. And why not? (I still remember wanting toy cars as a child, but not being allowed them, because they were for BOYS and I was a GIRL and that was final.)

Most of the parents we know IRL have fairly gender-neutral attitudes towards their kids – possibly because most of the parents we hang with are lesbians? – but on Facebook, people seem to be generally obsessed with ensuring that their boys stay away from the pink, or the floral, and, quoting one father, “should wear clothes with tanks on.”

I’ve thought of challenging them, but mostly decided it would be a losing battle; the furthest I’ve got is more mildly embarrassed laughter (as above) and the feeling that I’m seen as a nutcase.

This is depressing, people, and it’s HUGE. What’s going on?! It’s similar to homophobia… is there a word for it? Genderophobia? Umm, no?

It feels like I’ve been living in a bubble, but as a mother of a “pretty” boy with long hair who wears randomly coloured clothing, depending on what we’re given, I’m quite tuned into this show.

xx jay


15 responses to this post.

  1. Bliss was constantly called a girl, still often is. But this happened long before his hair had even grown long. It bugged me too, but never enough not to let him wear dresses when he picked them out at 2 at Target.
    I decided early onto become HIS advocate in this. I always (ALWAYS) correct others. I do it quickly and calmy with zero apologies. If the person gets bent about his hair I laugh at their small mindedness. If they question colors I say how sad it is to limit any childs life in regards to colors and sparkles.
    Interestingly he has a very “boy” face and I have found that most people who make the mistake never bother looking. Sometimes I point that out and they look and the “ahh haa” comes. It has never bothered Bliss, but I have always had his back and he has always seen other men with long hair. (I always point them out)
    One very sad thing is that he no longer wears it in a ponytail. Years ago he told me that was for girls. I was stunned and so sad. He is home schooled, does not have sitters, he got this likely through media but I had tried so hard. Lately we have been trying ponytails a bit at home to get it out of his face and I am still working on it. But he does love his hair and for that I am soooo thrilled.

    The really interesting thing is that Soul is now constantly being called a boy. Even in a flora outfit or dress. Sooo ridiculously funny to me. But I am her advocate as well.

    Good luck mama’s. HERE HERE and GOOD ON YA for long haired boys!!


  2. CD1 – too exciting!

    The gender thing drives me absolutely nuts too and I don’t even have a child yet. People are obsessed with shaping a child based on their sex from the instant they leave the womb (or before). The thought that these narrow roles – boy and girl – could mean anything *about* a baby or toddler is absurd. Looking for words to describe it, I think of it as gender essentialism, but it’s not a very recognizable phrase – it doesn’t have the same ring as “homophobia.”

    I love that bb’s hair is long and you are both fighting for his right to be whomever he is.


  3. I have a friend who’s got two adopted children whose race is different from hers, and her favorite response when people ask prying questions is, “Why do you need to know?” because then people realize that they really don’t need to know.

    But, also, you can take comfort in the fact that I’ve heard many, many a mother of pink/sparkly/pigtailed little girls talk about how often they are mistaken for boys. I think the real answer is just that people are stupid.

    But, onto more important matters: TTC2! WOO HOO!!!

    For what it’s worth, our clinic ran that anti-Muellerian test on Shrike, and its answers came back much more optimistic than the basic FSH/Estradiol test. Of course, she’s an old lady, so . . . .


  4. I hear you. Jo is pretty unmistakenly stereotypically boyish….but whenever I put blue (or red for some reason, wtf??) on Cho I get the “he’s so cute” comments. I find that consumer products — toys, clothes, even diaper pails — are all highly gendered, more so I think than in the free-to-be 70s when I was growing up. And I, too, find it highly disturbing.

    and go CD1!!! I was ridiculously excited about the cd1 that put me in the ttc game. πŸ™‚


  5. X gets called “she” all the time. Yesterday, waiting in line at the aquarium, two people told him what a pretty girl he was. He was wearing a blue shirt, blue striped overalls, a blue hat, riding in a blue stroller (we just really like blue and it looks so good on him!) He is only 21 months old, so he has no idea why it is odd when people do that. He has beautiful long golden curls, which I have no intention of cutting, so we are just going to have to work on getting used to other people’s misconceptions.

    Yay for CD1!!!


  6. um, yeah, gender. but more importantly (to me at the moment), you’re on facebook? since i’m not blogging anymore, i’d love to connect over there … AND YAY FOR CD1 on the calendar. πŸ™‚


  7. And so it begins! Very exciting, getting you on the calendar and in green ink no less. πŸ™‚

    Oh, and how can I get in on this Facebook action? πŸ˜‰ Lizzie, with you too!


  8. I’m with the crowd here… Yay for Day 1!! and people ALWAYS assume Bubbles is a boy… Especially when she is not wearing the assigned pink, but even sometimes when she is… go figure. When I was a baby I was bald and my mother actually taped a big bow to my head because of these questions… still turned out to be a dyke though! πŸ˜‰


  9. Most people think Miles is a boy, but occasionally people think he’s a ‘she’ and that doesn’t bother us at all…in fact, it kind of makes us smile. If they ask us directly, we’ll tell them, but if someone says ‘oh, she’s so cute,’ we’ll just smile and thank them. So not a big deal. We tend to dress him fairly gender neutral and he’s got long eyelashes and pretty curls, so i’m not surprised that people sometimes don’t know. I HATE how stores have a pink side and a blue side. We try to shop at more gender neutral children’s clothing stores if we can. It totally bugs me when people assume boys can’t wear girly things and vice versa. I can’t wait to get Miles a pink dress shirt lol.


  10. Posted by Jen M on August 23, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    My favorite story about this kind of thing happened at our pediatrician office when our son was maybe 3 months old. The physician assistant who had seen our son with his diaper off kept calling him “she.” Our only conclusion was that it was because he had a pink pacifier in. Somehow the pink pacifier trumped having seen his actual penis in terms of gender signifiers….

    I certainly knew we lived in a very gendered world, but I hadn’t realized until having a kid quite how important it was to people to attribute a gender to everyone around them.


  11. cannot even begin to tell you how many times lachlan got/gets called a girl. especially when his hair was longer. it is SO frustrating….people are really ballsy too in what they say!!!!!

    yay to CD1!

    ps. just got your package πŸ™‚ i was so excited and surprised! i saw the stamps with the queen on them, and just assumed it was something from my cousin in canada (as our stamps have the queen on them too…..) and opened it and was so surprised!! thanks for sending that girls…you guys are the best πŸ™‚
    as soon as my belly isn’t hugely inflated with baby boy, i will put it on and snap a photo!!

    pps. we want to print them for you guys. post a comment on my blog (or are you guys on FB?)…..let me know what size t-shirt (standard tee or ladies-cut) you guys want. and, also, what size BB will be wearing in a month or two πŸ™‚ i, too, expect photographic evidence you’ve gotten them after i send em! xo


  12. It’s silly isn’t it? My 2 long-haired (well really TTG doesn’t have a lot of hair but it’s never been cut) pink-wearing boys are often both called girls. It amuses me and I usually correct people. Like Bleu I think it’s important for people to realise that boys can have long hair/wear pink/carry dolls/whatever and they are still boys. I usually make their clothes so they can have whatever colours they want without the army/skulls themes.


  13. Posted by rhetorician on August 26, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    yes, the gender thing is nuts I agree. Some one in a lift once actually got kinda cross with me about the fact that C was not festooned in pink, as if it were almost a form of child abuse. But I have to confess, C is showing signs of being quite stereotypically girly (though she does like diggers). And woohoo on the CD1 – didn’t post when you announced this as we are still working on our donor to the end of no. 2, and we’re not optimistic. One thing I would say is yes fine, take exercise, but don’t do too much as it can interfere with fertility. But only you will know what level is right for you.

    But good luck with it, I hope it is quick to work


  14. Posted by Mrs. Cookie on August 26, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Two things.

    1) I was in a store the other day that had a pink onesie with the words “What? Boys can wear pink too.”

    2) My mom once told me that when we were babies living in Japan, elderly ladies would quickly deduce a child’s gender by slipping a hand in the diaper. I have to assume they’d need to be holding said child, though. Maybe it’s not so bad people get confused? πŸ™‚


  15. Posted by svillage on August 28, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    I am chiming in just to echo the sentiments of all those ahead of me. A is very boy-ish looking AND he was bald until just before 2. now that he’s approaching 2.5, he still hasn’t needed a haircut. So, he has been mistaken for a girl maybe twice. Nonetheless, we have really struggled with the gender thing too. He loves cars and trucks, but I feel my soul turn upside down when I hear, “he’s just all boy!” What does that mean? And, is he all boy even though he picks PINK 80% of the time?

    More importantly TTC #2!! I hope it happens painlessly, ladies!

    Oh, and any chance you’d want to connect on FB with us? I’m a much more reliable FBer than blogger these days…. email at itstakingavillage @ sbcglobal dot net.


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