He Knows He’s Gender Nonconforming

C.J. and I were at the park on a sunny summer day when we ran into a girl from his kindergarten class and her mother.  As the kids played, the mom and I got to talking about our respective summer plans and made small talk.  I’m not very good at small talk.

C.J. made this at his fine art summer camp today.  He says it's the best picture that he's ever done.  I agree.

C.J. made this at his fine art summer camp today. He says it’s the best picture that he’s ever done. I agree.

After awhile, she touched on the subject of C.J. being different and liking girl stuff.  She had volunteered in his classroom throughout kindergarten and had seen him gravitate toward pink and purple, be the only boy to play house, carry a Monster High lunchbox and draw himself as a girl.

Because I work, I only volunteered in C.J.’s class once last year.  His dad did it a handful of times.  I often wondered what the moms who volunteered on a weekly basis thought of my son.  There were at least three of them who were in the class so often that I wondered if they were on the payroll.

I assumed they had chatted amongst themselves about C.J.’s effeminate ways at least a few (or 250) times.  I know how Orange County moms talk.  They may have even brought it up to his teacher.  But they had never, not until now, in the safety of summer, brought it up to me.

“C.J. is gender nonconforming,” I said matter-of-factly and with a kind smile.

Her eyes immediately darted to C.J.  Yes, he was within earshot.  She looked and me and jerked her head toward him to indicate that he could hear what I was saying.

“Oh, he knows he’s gender nonconforming,” I assured her.

C.J. looked up and smiled at me.  Then, he went back to playing a complicated pat-a-cake game with his girl friend.

For C.J. knowing that he is gender nonconforming is like knowing that he has red hair, hates ketchup and that high-fives feel too aggressive.  It’s a fact.  It’s something that makes him who he his, but doesn’t totally define him — even though, for us, some days it feels like it does.

When he got home from camp, C.J. busted out his Easy Bake Oven and whipped these up.

When he got home from camp, C.J. busted out his Easy Bake Oven and whipped these up.

The mom was swimming in an awkward silence.  Staring at her daughter because she didn’t know what else to do.  I watched her swim for a minute or two.  I didn’t rush to make her feel safe.

“How did you explain that to him?” she finally asked.

“Well, we didn’t.  He explained it to us.  Not in so many words, but he’s always been a boy who only likes girl stuff.  We just gave him the term once we learned it.  And, that was so long ago now that it’s like he’s never known life without that phrase,” I explained.  “He uses it just as much as we do now.”

“But, other kids don’t know what it means,” she stated.

“Most don’t, but he explains it to them if he feels comfortable doing so.  Some kids hear that big-sounding term and don’t ask what it means.  I’m sure it sounds too confusing to even deal with,” I said.

“Do parents ever get mad when he explains it to their child?” she asked.  I wondered if she would have gotten mad if C.J. had explained gender nonconformity to her daughter prior to our conversation.

I took a second.

Safety first.  C.J. always buckles up his babies.

Safety first. C.J. always buckles up his babies.

“If they do, they don’t tell me.  But, you know, I equate it to kids letting other people know that they have some other special or unique need.  It’s something that is beneficial for others to know and to keep the child safe, but doesn’t necessarily need to be declared,” I explained.

She got silent again.  She was thinking.  She was uncomfortable.

“He also knows what it means to be transgender and homosexual,” I said.

“Come on, honey.  We have to get you to swim lessons,” she called to her daughter.

Maybe I should get better at small talk.  Or maybe I shouldn’t tell my son so much.  The jury is still out.

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  • deltabadhand

    I think it’s horrific that you allow your son to play with an easy bake oven, yet don’t share any of the resulting baked good with the readers. ;)

  • Lupe Rodriguez

    2 4 6 8 don’t assume your kids are straight. I think it’s great what she’s doing. I feel like she’s saving her son years of confusion and heartbreak by letting him express who and what he is at such an early age instead of telling him how a boy SHOULD be.

  • Miss Understood

    She’s great. I used to always thing of uptight behavior as an old-people thing. Now that I’m getting old and these stick-up-the-butt people are way younger then me! Having children seems to really bring out people’s biases.

  • Frances

    What if said woman’s daughter loved reds and blues, played with toy trucks, preferred spiderman underwear to Ariel underwear…etc. etc. etc. I’ll bet that would be OK with her. So why the reverse “discrimination”? No one thinks it odd when girls like boy stuff.

  • MikeE

    I’m just curious what might happen if one day her son realizes that he is actually sexually attracted to girls… it COULD happen. Liking “girl” things doesn’t necessarily mean he’s gay. I’ve known straight guys who were more feminine than I was, and let me tell you, I weren’t no He-Man when I was a kid.

    I’m curious about this, and mildly concerned. In a sense, the mother is almost reinforcing the feminine side of his personality. I’d be afraid of the mother subconsciously creating certain expectations of her son. It’s great that she’s open-minded and all. But I simply can’t help but wonder if maybe this MIGHT end up like the opposite of “training boys” to be “little men”? If the mother gets into the groove of treating her son as though he IS gay, she MIGHT overstep and actually be pushing him toward a psycho-sexual identity that might not have come to him naturally.

    I’m not ragging on her or anything, these are just questions that come to my mind when I read these articles. I think it’s a VERY delicate line to walk.

  • ToxicLittleQueen

    Frances: Its because most everyone has internalized, to some extent, that ‘masculine’ is better than ‘feminine’. Same as when the bigots start clamoring about THE GAYS, they mostly mean the men, who are seen as ‘feminine’ because they don’t find women sexually attractive. Butch lesbians are largely only offensive in that they don’t appear properly ‘feminine’ (read:appealing to men).

  • ToxicLittleQueen

    Also, fuck gender binary and ‘either/or’ sexual preferences. Everybody should consensually and non-judgmentally let their freak flag fly. Or not. Up to you.

  • Diego


  • samfw

    I’d say this little guy is very lucky to have such an enlightened mom… and she’s lucky to have such an enchanting child.

  • Bee Gaga

    @MikeE: That’s bs a no point did she say she’s telling her son you’re gay or you’re transgender just because he knows what those things mean you think she’s making him out to act in a way that he wouldn’t naturally do so? You sound like those idiot anti-gay people who say the same thing about having gay parents as if there’s something wrong with it even if that is what she’s doing we’ve all been in situations with our parents, teachers, family members, etc. assuming stuff about us and what we like and don’t like because of our gender clearly she’s not doing that as she said he’s gender-nonconforming she didn’t say my son is gay and even if she did who gives a f***

  • Dixie Rect

    Here he or she goes again, with all these ridiculous stories and complete lies. If any of this drivel is even remotely true, social services should be called and this kid taken away from this delusional lunatic.

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