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Gender expression 

Hi, fellow parents of gender creative/GNC kids. I've noticed that all it takes for one of my sons to get misgendered is for him to have ONE feminine coded things about him. Long curly hair, grey leggings, pink shoes, purple bike helmet. Seems all it takes to be "masculine" is a complete lack of anything "feminine." I only have boys, so I'm only coming at it from the one perspective. Curious what other parents have noticed about how and when their kids get misgendered.

Gender expression 

@Rachael Not a parent, but definitely have some experience with this. I think the pressure to never be feminine does tend to be stronger for boys than the pressure to never be masculine is for girls. Girls can be a "tomboy" and it's at least understood, boys don't usually have that option.

It's also important how the kid feels. They should be able to express themselves without being misgendered, but they also shouldn't have to stop being themselves out of fear of bullying

Gender expression 

@Rachael It's not their fault that others have narrow perceptions of gender. It definitely depends a lot on the age too. I think middle school is particularly rough as far as pressure to conform. That's what I noticed while I was there, though I never really did.

Having supportive parents when exploring gender expression is really helpful. My mom is the one who probably polices my gender expression the most and it can make our relationship hard

Gender expression 

@Laura_I I'm sorry your mom does that. My kids are only 7, 5, and 3, but the 5 yo is already experiencing bullying (hate to use that word flippantly, but in this case it sounds like purposeful, repeated misgendering, so I don't mind using it). I can't imagine what middle school will be like for him. I just want him to wear whatever he wants to wear, because he wants to wear it. I hate that he's already changing how he dresses because of what he's experienced in Kindergarten.

Gender expression 

@Rachael Yeah that's really rough. I also think bullying can often be many small things adding up because they happen repeatedly. It doesn't just need to be one big event.

I hope your kid is able to find friends who accept him for who he is, but at that age you're usually just friends with whoever's around you so it's hard to do that.

It's sad how early gender expression is policed

Gender expression 

@Rachael So far, I’ve noticed it less than you described. My son has had long hair for the last three years (he’s young though), and folks would always assume he was a girl. Whether he was wearing stereotypical ‘boy’ clothes or a sparkle skirt. I have three other girls, and everyone would just assume they were all girls. However my second oldest daughter has very short hair, and tends to wear very neutral clothes. But no one ever seems to assume she’s a boy...

Gender expression 

@Jes Interesting! Thank you for replying.

Gender expression 

@Rachael My 19 m old daughter can be wearing pink and blue tennis shoes, "girly" pants, but also be wearing a jean jacket and has been called a boy a few times based solely on the jacket. I plan to just be supportive and let Luna have whatever style she wants or interests. I've already thought it would be amazing if she became a mechanic someday. 😁

Gender expression 

@Rachael So far, my kids have not been particularly attached to a gender identity. I check in with them if they’d like me to intervene if someone says he or she, and at this point none of them care. They’re quick to point out that hair and clothes don’t have a gender. If anything, I’m concerned they don’t have enough empathy for folks who strongly desire their gender to be recognized. But they’re young yet, I think it’ll come.

Gender expression 

@Jes That's how I've been intervening too - checking with them, only saying something if they want me to. My oldest is 7 and it doesn't seem to faze him at all if he's called a girl. My 5 yo HATES it, so I speak up for him a lot. The 3 yo couldn't care less, he has a clear gender identity himself, but he still mixes up other people's pronouns all the time, so I don't think it really matters to him much right now.

Gender expression 

@Rachael my kids have been wearing a lot of the same clothes thanks to the magic of hand-me-downs, but have rarely been misgendered; at least not since they were infants. Pink sneakers and painted toenails didn't even do it. I think hair is a huge factor. My boy has always worn his hair short, my girl's is long and curly, and that's enough for everyone to assume gender (in this case correctly).

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