Peyton had the toughest time learning his pronouns. It was incredibly frustrating as a parent to have to be constantly correcting him. Peyton is not your typical kid. He was born with a plethora of issues and delays. Some of these issues will affect his learning for the rest of his life. Due to these issues I never thought that his learning his pronouns could be from anything other then his learning delays.
Last April 2016, Peyton started saying that he was a boy. Prior to that he was female. He was born female and dressed like a girl. He liked his hair done and clips (pretties in our house) put into his hair. His hair was down to his butt. About three times a week he would pretend to be a boy. This seemed natural for a three year old. He has and had boys around him that are always rough and tough and I thought, “hey, he wants to be just like them”. So I simply blew off his wanting to be a boy. After all, he was going around the house and pretending to be a dog as well. At three kids are always pretending, or so I thought.
It came time for his yearly IEP (Individualized education program) and Peyton’s speech therapist informed me that he should continue with Speech therapy for various reasons, including the fact that Peyton just did not have his pronouns down. Pronouns seem to be tricky in more ways then one and I will discuss them some more in my second pronoun blog. I agreed with the Speech therapist because I could see Peyton struggling with these on a daily basis.
Peyton increased his pretending to be a boy. He dressed like a girl every day and our routine did not initially change. His hair was done and we purchased what he calls “girl things” for him. The increase in pretending to be a boy seemed gradual at first, and then he became more adamant about it. One day he came to me and asked me if I would get him some boy clothes. At that moment I knew that there was something more going on then just pretending to be a boy. Stupidly, I think I once told him that he was a girl and he had girl clothes. There is no parent handbook to help with these things and we learn as we go. I will also mention that I am a lesbian and a large portion of my clothing is male clothing. Not all but most so part of me thought he wanted to dress more like me. I quickly got over him wanting to wear boy clothes and told him that I would buy him one outfit in boy clothes. He was very happy with this and promptly asked if we could cut his hair. That I was very hesitant about because he was after all three years old and this could have been a phase just like the barking like a dog. I told him we would wait to cut his hair. It took a few months and into the first month back to school and we converted his wardrobe from girls clothing to all boys clothing. In case you are wondering, this is not cheap or easy to do. And I won’t lie, it is sad to see all the pretty dresses that he wore go into a bin to be stored, at least for the time being. I even gave in and cut his hair to his shoulders. This still allowed for pretties to go into it but made him feel better because it was shorter. Right before his four year old kindergarten year began, Peyton turned four.
Peyton and I made an agreement that if he liked his boy clothing and wore them for a month, his hair would be cut very short. I spoke to his school principal, teachers and therapist about Peyton wanting to be a boy and his wanting his name changed to Peyton. We added Peyton as a nickname in his classroom (rules in our state say that the given birth certificate name is the one that appears on all school records). He started being known as Peyton. He stuck to his all boy clothing for a month and I stuck to my promise to cut his hair. His hair was almost buzzed short. I remember lifting him so he could look at himself in the mirror and the briefest look of disappointment crossed his face. Peyton thought that if he got his hair cut he would instantly change on the outside and no longer look like who he knew as a girl. He thought that the change would be so dramatic that he would instantly be a boy, a boy that he imagined being in his head. He was heartbroken. And yet at four, he put on this brave face and said how much he liked his hair cut- that I know he did for me. Little kids are amazing. You can see so much in their faces.
The second Peyton became as much of a boy as he could be, his pronoun recognition changed. And I mean it instantly changed and improved. I know I seem like I deviated from my pronoun story but I didn’t. This child could not for the life of him make sense of pronouns because even though everyone saw him as a girl on the outside, he saw himself as a boy on the inside. So while everyone told him that he was a she and a her, he was thinking he and him. How’s that for confusing? It was all such a jumbled mess in his head that he could not make sense of it all. Once everyone started referring to him as the boy that he is, the whole picture fit together for him.
Side note: I am not at all saying to run and see if your child is transgender because he or she can not learn pronouns. Some kids have a genuine hard time with this. In Peyton’s case his confusion came from truly being a boy trapped in a girl’s body.