This journey that Peyton is on is kind of puzzling at times. I’ve never been on this journey as an individual or as a parent so I have no idea what to expect or what comes next. Every time something comes up, I have to figure out a way to deal with it, pretty much on my own.
Since Peyton became Peyton, he has solely wanted to be a boy. He didn’t want anything to do with what he deemed “girly” anything. He would purposely steer away from any feminine items. But in the last few weeks Peyton has decided to branch out a bit. He asks me to put “pretties” (what we call hair ties and decorated bobby pins in our house) in his hair. We have a lot of princess dress up clothing and he asks me to help put some of them on him. I’ve asked him several times if he wants to be a boy or a girl and every time he says he wants to be a boy. I’m not sure if he is experimenting with things to see what he likes better or if he is just playing like his sister does and pretending to be different characters. One of the little boys that comes over to play in our house often puts little dress up dresses on and that is fine with everyone. And I guess Peyton putting on the dresses is okay with me but it really does throw my brain for a loop. When he does this I wonder if he misses being a girl or if he wants to be a girl again. I fight with myself because children should be able to explore the world around them so that they can learn.
And Peyton is still Peyton when he is not pretending with his sister and friends. He only wants to wear boy clothing and shoes and goes to the boys bathroom… But I wonder if there will come a day when he will want to dress as a girl again just to see what that is like. I don’t so much worry about him exploring but about what others will say to him if he does choose to explore… It’s not a very nice world that we live in and I don’t want him to get hurt in any way shape or form.
I guess for now, all that we can do is continue to navigate these muddy waters and maybe someday they will clear up a bit and this journey will be a bit easier to understand.
2 thoughts on “Muddy Waters”
Four year olds are still exploring gender, testing out the societal norms that gender represents and making sense of what is typical in their communities. Peyton showing interest in tchotchkes that are representative of female bodies or femininity in your community likely has no relevance to his gender. They are things that capture his attention, rather than “girl” things that signify a struggle within him relating to his gender identity, if that makes sense.
Have you come across the term genderqueer? Not all people fit comfortably into the gender binary. I understand that you are probably trying to understand Peyton as a male or Peyton as a female. Maybe Peyton isn’t yet clear where he sits on the gender spectrum. It might be worth trying to suspend the need within you to define Peyton’s gender and allow him instead to explore without definition. Unless he uses a particular word to describe himself (eg. boy / girl), don’t use it to ask him questions about his identity.
No child goes through life without experiencing hurt. The strongest, most self-assured adults tend to be those who had a stable, loving home in their childhood. Continue to provide that for Peyton. No matter what else he experiences in his life, he needs to know that you represent love, security and acceptance.
Deepest respects for your desire to support Peyton!
Thanks for your honest and insightful comment. I think my need to label comes from the way that our society is and this is something that for Peyton’s sake, I need to get away from. This is a difficult task however because of the school system. They want to fit everyone, including Peyton, into one of the two categories “boy or girl” because then it makes it easier for them to in a sense manage him. Every day for me is a learning process and Peyton has a lot to teach me not only about himself but about life and the world I view the world. I’m going to try to let him “flow” more so that he can become the person that he is most comfortable with. Peyton does however identify as a “boy” and is adamant about the fact that he is a boy. But here again I’m not sure if this is because it is what he wants or if it’s because society wants him to be one or the other.
I have heard of the term genderqueer but I am not yet familiar with it. I will do some research on it. Thanks for suggesting it and thanks for reading.