Gender Nonconformity

Hannah, Writer

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Almost everything is simple when you’re a kid. It’s easy for kids to play pretend and make things up with their imaginations. One thing that kids understand much better than adults is gender nonconformity. Gender nonconformity is when a person’s actions and appearance do not align with the society’s expectations of how that gender should look or act. It’s very easy for children to understand that although a person identifies as a girl or boy, they don’t have to look or act like it.

Lisa Selin Davis, an author of an article of the NY Times, describes the experiences her and her daughter have gone through. Her daughter is a tomboy who identifies as a girl, but has short hair, is athletic, and has friends that are guys. Many people have mistaken her as a boy, even people who have known her for at least a number of months. These people ask her which gender she identifies herself with because they haven’t gotten used to the idea of a girl liking cars or a boy liking nail polish and dolls. Davis believes this shows consideration and sensitivity to transgender issues, which is important and much needed. However, it becomes a little bit of a problem as soon as people who have known you for years continue to ask you how you identify yourself. The article that Lisa Selin Davis wrote can be found here: (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/opinion/my-daughter-is-not-transgender-shes-a-tomboy.html).

Some of the stereotypes society has imposed on genders include that women shouldn’t be in a STEM field and that men shouldn’t be the one cleaning or cooking in the house. Other stereotypes are that girls should play with dolls and like the color pink and that boys should play with cars and trucks and like the color blue. However, pink hasn’t always been a feminine color and blue hasn’t always been masculine. According to Jo Poaletti, the author of the book Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in America, blue was a feminine color, a color for blonds, or a color for blue-eyed babies in the early 1900’s.

Target has recognized gender nonconformity and launched a “gender-neutral” campaign. They have made the decision to remove “boys” and “girls” signs from their products. This creates a more open space for children to feel proud of the things they enjoy. Boys don’t have to feel embarrassed about buying a doll or kitchen set if there’s not a sign labeling them as “girl’s toys” and vice versa for girls.

One experience Davis’s daughter has had is girls telling her that she’s in the wrong bathroom. However, when she told them she was a girl, they accepted her for who she was very easily. Adults have a much harder time and as a country, we have a lot more progress to make. It’s important to be aware and sensitive towards sexual orientation and gender identity, but it’s also important to be aware of people who don’t fit into the mold society has for genders.

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