December 02, 2006

Shorter NYT: We love us some gender essentialism!

A fascinating article this morning in the NYT on positive changes in the attitudes of parents, educators, and child psychologists towards very young transgender kids. Unfortunately, the writer seems completely ignorant of the issues surrounding transgender, and spend the first third of the piece forcing the entire issue into a cisnormative framework. Here are some highlights:

`Children as young as 5 who display predispositions to dress like the opposite sex are being supported by a growing number of young parents, educators and mental health professionals.'

How could anyone display a predispostion to wear certain clothes over others? That's like having an predisposition to speak Italian instead of English, or a predisposition to be an atheist.

`The prospect of cross-dressing kindergartners has sparked a deep philosophical divide among professionals over how best to counsel families.'

Transgender people are not cross-dressers. The whole point is that they aren't easily classified as either gender. The first part of this sentence is as fundamentally mistaken as saying intersex people have the wrong genitals.

`Is it healthier for families to follow the child’s lead, or to spare children potential humiliation and isolation by steering them toward accepting their biological gender until they are older?'

That is, is it better to enforce strict dichotomies of sex and gender just so we don't have to challenge them?

The latter two thirds is much better. It's probably no coincidence that this part is almost entirely composed of quotations from parents and progressive educators and the like.

No comments: