Don’t Mess with Moms Like Us

Happy 10th Birthday C.J.'s Brother!!!!

Happy 10th Birthday C.J.’s Brother!!!!

It’s C.J.’s Brother’s birthday week! We started off celebrating his decade of awesomeness with a party at Dave and Buster’s – which I deemed a total and complete stress-free success…but, then again, I didn’t have to drive home five 10-year-old boys who were hopped up on sugar, hitting each other with the inflatable hammers they won gaming and telling fart jokes mingled with “your mom” insults. That was C.J.’s Dad’s job.

Monday we were recovering from the party and prepping for the next day’s actual birthday. I was attempting to write a blog post on Monday night when someone sent me a Huffington Post article written by Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

In the article, Zuckerberg questions the choices of mothers like me – mothers who don’t hide their gender nonconforming sons from the world; mothers who don’t prod their gender nonconforming sons to conform to make others feel more comfortable; mothers who share with their friends through social media the daily happenings of their gender nonconforming sons (who may happen to be wearing a dress on the way to the grocery store or pink shoes on the way to school).

Zuckerberg thinks that mothers like me are doing a disservice to our children and that we are doing so without thinking about the consequences.  If she only knew how much I thought about my children on a daily basis.

“We need to encourage our children to be individuals and to explore their passions and talents. At the same time, we do have to acknowledge that we live in the real world, not a fantasy world. Your child is inevitably going to come into contact with other kids, who can be mean and cruel — is it possible that we do our children a disservice by not preparing them for the outside world?…This might mean having a realistic discussion at a young age about why other children might not understand a young boy wearing dresses and high heels and why it’s in his best interest to limit that behavior for now. I’m not sure we’re doing them a favor by just sending them straight into the lion’s den without a warning about what’s in store,” she wrote.

She supported her argument by quoting parenting guru and gender expert Kanye West.

Someone may have been having an attitude because it wasn't his birthday.

Someone may have been having an attitude because it wasn’t his birthday.

The article got me so worked up that I couldn’t focus on the blog post  I had started. I turned off my laptop and spent the rest of the evening wrapping C.J.’s Brother’s birthday presents while watching Real Housewives of Orange County and stuffing leftover Easter candy into my mouth hole like it was going to expire the next day.

I was getting more and more agitated. I was exchanging hurt-angry-sarcastic texts with friend, fellow pink boy mom and blogger Kelly. I was preparing for a sleepless night when an email from one of my favorite writer friends and fierce mamas landed in my inbox. The Huffington Post’s Amelia was coming to the defense of gender nonconforming mothers everywhere — even though her gay son is gender conforming.  At a time when my words were unorganized and scrambled, Amelia’s were clear, firm and perfect. Read her full rebuttal here.

I think her entire post is a sample of Grade A badassery and I’m hugely thankful that she penned it.  Here are my favorite chunks.

“Pink boys or gender nonconforming boys have been a popular topic of conversation these days. People who have gender-conforming children (or no children at all) are always ready to put in their two cents about what they would do…Until you are actually a parent in that situation, you don’t know what you would do…”

“I am fortunate enough to call some of these moms my friends. Sarah Manley, Lori Duron and Kelly Byrom have not only stood by their children publicly but shared the sheer beauty and joy of their children in words and photographs. I can say for certain that none of these women takes sharing lightly. They are well aware of what people think and what people say, but they have made the decision to put their families out there, not for notoriety but in an effort to help other parents who are going through the same thing. Every one of them has had uncomfortable conversations with a very young child about the assholes who make fun of them for being themselves. They don’t live in a bubble. They live in the real world, and they are trying to make that world a better and safer place, not just for their kids but all kids.”

“… I stand strong with the moms who post about their gender-nonconforming children. We are sisters in the same fight. We are standing up and fighting for our children’s right to be who they are. And we are fighting homophobia, because — let’s be honest — that’s really what this is all about….By not hiding who our children are and by being proud of them, we are sending them the message that they are perfect exactly the way they are.”

“…I will not hide who my child is for the sake of others, because I will not teach my child to be ashamed of what makes him the amazing little man whom it is my privilege and honor to parent. Yes, there are bullies, but I will not be one of them.”

C.J.'s birthday present to his brother was this picture of the two of them.  C.J. is the one in the skirt.

C.J.’s birthday present to his brother was this picture of the two of them. C.J. is the one in the skirt.

Thank you, Amelia, for writing this. And, thanks to you, Kelly and Sarah for always, always, always having my back and being there for me and my son. As Kelly has said, you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us. Thanks, ladies, for inspiring me, supporting me and being a group with which I can say the eff word much more than a good mother should. ;)

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60 Responses to Don’t Mess with Moms Like Us

  1. that anonymous coward says:

    Ohai CJ’s Mom!
    Don’t freak out, I really am a nice person. (Judge me by my words, not my avatar.)
    I stop by from time to time to read your posts, and remind myself there are wonderful people in the world.

    I just wanted to mention a couple of things…
    Ms. Zuckerberg can’t work the privacy settings on Facebook and melted down in public, but she feels qualified to tell everyone else how to raise their children.

    http://gizmodo.com/5971918/watch-randi-zuckerberg-have-a-facebook-freakout-over-her-photo-going-viral

    She is 31 and rich, so obviously we should listen to her about everything. Like no one should be anonymous online… for the children. Or is it so Facebook can earn more money data mining peoples lives.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/27/randi-zuckerberg-anonymity-online_n_910892.html

    Or maybe she is taking stupid positions to drive more people to her new online venture.

    http://www.newkerala.com/news/2011/worldnews-41666.html

    Her brother managed to change the world, and somehow she thinks it is much more important to make everyone else to change to suit the world. One would think she’d like to make the world a better place, but I guess her own prejudices get in the way.

    I hope for the sake of her son that Asher isn’t different in any way, one can only fear for what an attitude like hers would put him through if he doesn’t perfectly conform to how she demands reality be.

    Just think what we could accomplish in the world if we just stopped trying to make sure everyone conformed to what we want them to be, and accepted them how they were.

  2. My mom calls me Thomas, I call myself Lisa says:

    Katy Perry says it well…

    • Lisa says:

      And I wish my mom had been as cool as you. I’m 36 and just barely coming to terms with who I am. I am getting a sex change (M2F). It’s taken a lot of love and at times outright pushing from a WONDERFUL girlfriend, Ruby (yes, born a woman) for me to open up and come out to my family. Turns out my sister knew years ago before I even realized it; she was just waiting for me to wake up. Ruby went so far as telling me she would not marry me if I wore anything less than a dress on our day. There HAD to be 2 brides.

      One thing I can say… I am finally home.

  3. Nichole says:

    I got bullied for wearing glasses in the second grade – should my parents have forced me to wear contacts or continue living without being able to see more than 5 feet ahead of me? The logic in Zuckerberg’s article is so faulty and ridiculous and damaging, it would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad and infuriating. People are born how they are born, and in 2013 we should be able to have the appropriate conversations that give everyone the room to walk around being themselves.

    Kids will make fun of whatever is different, whether it’s a boy wearing pink or a girl wearing glasses. I used to get made fun of for wearing dresses as a little girl! I moved from the South to the North East, and everyone teased me for my year-round skirts and dresses because they all wore pants and jeans. The responsibility isn’t on anyone to conform, it’s on the parents and teachers having conversations and creating a safe environment.

  4. Sophie says:

    Wow, this is really interesting. I have a 7 year old daughter, and went into her school to teach them macrame the other day. A little boy, 6, wanted to join in and wanted pink. He then chatted about Beyonce and The Devil Wears Prada etc, and it struck me (I have no knowledge of gender conformity) that this little boy seemed on one level to identify as a girl (again, I have no idea how this works, but it wasn’t a “he might end up gay” thing, ti was “he wants to be a girl.”) So that was great and we did our macrame. The bad bit was at the end of the class when the teacher said that basically his parents had instructed the school NOT to let him have pink, not to let him play girls’ games etc (they let it slide when I did macrame, thank goodness) as they knew there was a “big issue” (ie it wasn’t my imagination). The teachers didn’t think it was great and nor did I. Look, I have no idea about this, but I was struck by this little boy and how overtly different he was. I can’t see that denying him the right to dress in pink or sing Beyonce is going to make it go away. If that’s what zuckerberg’s article is getting at, then that’s sad. It seems that to me that we need to embrace and love our kids and give them confidence to be whoever they can. Much respect to all of you and your little people.

    • MM says:

      Sophie, I’m concerned about this kid. Siruation sounds dreadful. I wonder about the school’s responsibility to the kid. Supporting the kid at school may not help so much while the parents are being so controlling. I wonder if someone in the situation can maybe get the parents into discussion or counseling? if the parents could be moved to see how harmful their policy will be to their son. Somehow.

  5. DeerfieldJenn says:

    I think Zuckerberg’s article kind of sucks, but the criticism might be a little harsh. Her main point seems more about invading the privacy of our kids by sharing things about them that later in life, they may not be so happy we’ve shared. While I certainly don’t think this applies in Lori and CJ’s case, it’s not a worthless point.

  6. insaniteen says:

    So unless I’m missing the boat here, Randi Z is “encouraging” moms to school their children on proper social behaviour to avoid someone hurting them as they grow up. Like that’s ever worked before. She obviously doesn’t understand the tremendous effort LGBTQ kids have to go through to try to pretend to be like their peers on a daily basis in the hopes that they’ll be accepted and fit and how that causes more stress than being allowed to be yourself and learn how to trust yourself and grow into the person you wish to be. I get that everyone has opinions, even people who obviously don’t have a clue what they’re actually talking about but to suggest that some parents are doing actual harm by letting their kids be themselves – well, you had better have a bunch of initials after your name that verifies you have spent years studying and researching this very issue and your conclusions are based on that research and not the person paying for the research grant. What an idiot. Trying to fit the mold that others wish for their sake just fosters more ignorance and hate – the very things we are all trying to counter.

  7. MM says:

    Nice website for parents / families with trans / gender nonconforming kid

    http://www.genderodysseyfamily.org/blog/

    Blogroll on lower right side of page includes a link to Raising My Rainbow and several other blogs……. Including some I have not heard of before.

  8. lutiesmom says:

    first, happy birthweek to CJ’s brother! Second, thank you for your posts and everyone’s comments-when I balance on my perceived tightrope of supporting my pink boy’s gender non-conforming choices and protecting him, your words provide the safety net that encourage me to take broader steps to embracing all the wonderful, creative possibilities.

  9. Olive says:

    That’s what I just commented on Randi’s post after reading it:

    I seriously believe that’s a very brave deed from these moms’ parts, who are actively fighting to change the current reality and work towards making this subject become a non-issue in 20 years’ time, as you said. If they don’t share it, if they don’t stand up for their kids and tell them that they are going to fight together against the cruelty that they are bound to encounter, the paradigm will never change.
    There’s engagement, commitment and activism in these women’s online postings. Not only a personal sharing of private lives. We have to broaden our minds and reflect deep upon people’s actions to really understand what that is all about, before we go one and judge them in doing so – especially when we are nowhere near their position.

  10. Olive says:

    Despite agreeing that quoting Kanye West (of all people, you see!!!!) to support any argument is very, very poor, it’s still worse because he actually goes AGAINST what Randi was saying until then. To me, he’s supporting that it’s really bad for kids to be constrained from their choices and told what to like from early childhood – which means he would like that to stop, obviously.
    Oh my, people gotta learn to read… It was very ugly, Randi. And yet, you’re the CEO of Fb. Oh well…

  11. AMM says:

    I finally read the Randi Zuckerberg article.

    I was prepared to be outraged. I ended up just being bewildered. I’m not sure what she was saying besides “don’t post pictures of your gender non-conformant child on-line.” Most of it was her saying “I think it’s wonderful that children can be who they are” in a way that gave me the feeling that she actually felt the opposite. I’m not sure what the Kanye West quote was supposed to prove — he seemed to be supporting gender non-conformant people.

    I have to admit, I was annoyed by her comment about childhood being “a time to make mistakes,” as if how CJ dresses (or how I dress) were mere childish foolishness. For me, the only
    childhood mistake I made was waiting 50 years to accept that I love to wear skirts and dresses and other pretty things, and every time some well-meaning Randi-like person asks me when I’m going to get “mature” and dress like a corporate droid instead of like a girl, I feel like punching him or her in the nose.

    (FYI Randi: I know whole _communities_ of people who don’t believe you’re _ever_ too old to wear a full-body Darth Vader costume.)

    Me, I wouldn’t post the pictures, but then, I don’t post _any_ pictures on-line, nor do I post much of anything under my own name, mostly because I don’t feel safe having anything personal about me in the hands of strangers.

  12. Parker says:

    Just in case you haven’t seen it, Dear Abby has a letter today from a grandmother of a Princess boy.

  13. Kirsten says:

    Hey, by the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CJ’s BRO!!!! Double digits!!!

  14. violetkeppel says:

    people like that will always be around. you must be proud of yourself, your son surely will be, for letting him be Him.
    Thank you for showing us such a gorgeous kid.
    *

  15. L says:

    You know, it’s not only kids that you are helping with your blog.

    • SJ says:

      I just want to say that gender-nonconformity isn’t only about clothing. I have 3 grown children. One daughter is a lesbian and she dresses mostly in what are considered
      “male clothes”. My other daughter is a 2nd don black belt in TaeKwonDo. She is currently in the IDF. In her off time, she wears whatever she wants and pays for the clothes herself. My son likes lots of things that are not considered masculine (opera, bird-watching, chick flicks) but he wears regular “guy clothes”. When I was growing up in the 60′s, my mom was one of the first “feminists”. She was a single parent and faced discrimination because of it. When I became an adult in the 70′s I went to culinary school
      and faced discrimination because it wasn’t considered feminine to be a chef and “women didn’t belong in a professional kitchen”. Fortunately, my children now benefit because of my grandma’s, mom’s and my struggles for civil rights. The point is that we have to be proactive for our children and stand up for their right to be themselves. That’s how society will change. The next big struggle is for LGBT equality. It will happen but we have to stand up and be counted. I don’t care what Ms. Zuckerberg says. She is on the wrong side of history. I hope that in 10 years this won’t be an issue for anyone.
      Please pray to whatever supreme being you believe in that SCOTUS decides in our favor. Those kinds of decisions go a long way in moving society in the right direction.

  16. anonymous says:

    The latest post on Black Girl Dangerous “To the Queer Black Kids” speaks to the flip side of this: “Your mother may be trying to protect you. But hurting someone yourself to keep others from hurting them is really no kind of protection at all.”

  17. Aspiring Author says:

    It was thanks to Amelia’s article that I found this blog, and I am so glad I did. While reading the whole thing in two sittings I’ve laughed out loud and teared up. It’s incredibly heartbreaking that C.J. feel like he has to hide in public now. As someone struggling with social anxiety in adulthood thanks to childhood bullies, my heart aches for your little Diva. And thank you so much for all the books you’ve recommended. It must have been fate that got me to this blog because I’ve been struggling for months about a teen book I want to write about a boy who wants to be a princess (idea is a gender flip of Girl wants to be a Knight books). I need to write my book, and I will write it. For your son and everyone like him.

    ps. You are an amazing mother. I hope to be as awesome as you one day.

  18. mark says:

    Great post and response from the othwr pink tiger moms. This is the same zuckwrbergs that have no issue with promoting illegal aliens continuing to break the current laws and support our own government for turning that blind eye all in the name of human rights.

    But when it comes to this human right, we all need to hide out somewhere because it might make others uncomfortable. That’s totally hypocritical in my view.

    You had a right to be agitated. What I’d like to see is a campaign to allow anybody to express however they want. Why does it concern anybody else? It is homophobic, patriarchal, misogynist, chauvanist yet no one but a few sees any of that as a problem. Sad.

  19. I followed the link you posted on Facebook the other day and read Zuckerberg’s post. While I was reading it I was thinking about how grateful I am for women/moms like you. I don’t have kids yet but probably will in the next 2 years or so. I sincerely hope that by the time my kids are the age CJ was when he started displaying his preference for all things girly/sparkly that society no long views certain toys as being girl toys or boy toys. I’m sure that it won’t be that easy and it won’t happen that quickly, but it won’t happen at all if parents like you and your husband weren’t as awesome as you are. What you’re doing is raising awareness. Until I’d read your blog I had no experience with a child who was gender non-conforming. It honestly hadn’t even crossed my mind as something that even exists. Now I know about it and know how hard it can be for family to deal with, not because of the child but because of the people that the child comes in contact with.

    The night I read the article I also watched a rerun of Law and Order: SVU with a transsexual character (played by Katherine Moenning). At the end of the episode I turned to my husband with tears in my eyes and said, “We’re going to love and support our children no matter what, even our son decides he’d rather be our daughter.” Luckily my husband kissed me and said, “Of course we will.”

    Screw what Zuckerberg and people like her think. You’re doing the best you can to make the world a better place for your children, a more accepting and understanding place, but still not spilling all of your (or their) beans for everyone to examine. CJ is lucky to have you as a mom, and so are all of us. You’re teaching us how to be better people and I thank you for that.

  20. deb says:

    I am consistently blown away by people who feel the need to judge how other parents parent, particularly in such a public way, and who — for some reason — seem to think that any parent blindly acts on behalf of their children with no thought to consequences. To this day, my mother wonders if she did right by my brother and me (and we’re 42 and 46!).

    Parents don’t cause gender-noncoformity or gayness any more than they cause left-handedness, but they do influence how safe a child feels with who they are. And it is so clear that you, and Amelia, weigh every decision very carefully as do your families (and it’s also clear that you let C.J. express his needs and wants). Keep doing what you’re doing and stay true to yourselves and your kids. We’re all with you and behind you.

    (Kanye West? Good grief.)

  21. pinkagendist says:

    I find Zuckerberg’s inability to form a logical argument appalling. To elicit her prejudice , all we have to do is change her chosen target:
    Should mothers of socially awkward ‘nerds’ also protect their children by telling them to change? Should teenage girls be encouraged to bleach their hair and have breast augmentations, because in the real world, that might get them on a reality show? Better yet, should girls be encouraged to not go to school and focus solely on their appearances because in the real world landing a rich husband is much easier than spending years focusing on an education and a career? Should Jews change their names to sound less Jewish? Should Asians get that westernizing eye surgery as to better blend in to our real world Western society?
    Of course not- criticism of this variety is reserved for the LGBT community.

  22. I just wrote a paper for a class son Gender Nonconforming Kids and I’m tempted to send her some of my resources- the ones that show the correlation between higher risks of abuse (mental, emotional, physical and sexual), depression, PTSD and even suicide when a child is made to feel shame or hide their true feelings instead of simply receiving support for who they are! I am done with adults who think this kind of crap is okay, that they’re allowed to choose a child’s identity and how it should be expressed. We’re not talking tattoos here, it’s clothes, it’s hair- it’s loving your child for who s/he is! I wish I could protect all the children, I really do.

  23. Shelly says:

    I have a gender non-conforming son, too, but I didn’t take the article this way. However, my son doesn’t dress in girls’ clothing outside the home (in public). (His choice, not mine, by the way–I’d be totally fine if he wanted to wear a dress out in public, and would support it 100%). Since he doesn’t wear girls’ clothing in public, I wouldn’t post photos of him in his dresses on a “public” or semi-public forum such as Facebook, where the photos could circulate. I kind of assumed that was what Zuckerberg was referring to, I guess.

    • SunnyMama says:

      I don’t think so. She referenced the mom who posted the photo of her son wearing pink shoes on his way to school. First day of school outfit which many parents share proudly.

    • MM says:

      Hi Shelly, I think she (Zuckerberg) kinda started out talking about posting photos – but then she veers off into the clothing-wearing-itself as an issue. She also talks about both the general issue of parents supporting their kids and the more narrow topic of photo posting. I think it would be better to separate these issues more; it seems kinda muddy to me the way she did it.
      She could be more articulate about her “criticism”. Rereading her article, it seems like her beef is that parents MIGHT not be preparing their kids to deal with bullies, and there MIGHT be later repercussions of posted photos. Some practical / positive responses might be to encourage many ways to protect kids from bullying (see this blog, for example), and develop strategies to mitigate bad results from posting photos. (thats certainly something Facebook could concern itself with.) For parents, she could develop questions to assess whether someone is able and willing to protect their kid (including when posting photos), and general ways for all to protect kids. It is a complicated skill. So far the only way she has (apparently) figuered out is to counsel the kid to conform, but this is not the only option. CJs mom could help her out some, as could Amelia, and PFLAG, and GLAAD, and so on.
      These are things she could contribute to, and work on, which could contribute to solving the things she is complaining about.
      Actually my impression is that she has not given the issues adequate consideration. I don’t really know, but it sounds like she just read this article her sister sent and wondered what to think and doesn’t know any kids like CJ, and doesn’t realize how important these issue is for kids like CJ.

      • Pam says:

        I agree with Zuckenberg when she talks about posting pics, disagree when she criticizes the clothing-wearing itself. I think that’s when she lost it.
        I wouldn’t post tons of pics of my (future) kids on a social website, whether they’re are straight, gay, gender conforming or not… cause I have some issues with super exposition of kids on the internet, I understand what she said cause one thing is to talk about something your kid did, another one is make a “visual document” who will be travelling through internet forever. Walking down the streets of the neighborhood is not the same as having pictures posted on facebook.
        I think my grown up kid have the right not to the bullied because of and old picture. Of course my kids will grow up surrounded by lesbians, gays, cross-dressers,etc and that subject will be part of his/her life. But why I’ll put my kid at risk to make a political statement? I guess that must be his/her decision, at some age he/she will decide to post pictures or not. And I will respect that.
        I love the work that C.J’s Mom does here, but she always protected their kids, by not showing their faces.

        It’s my opinion, it’s what I’ll do when I have kids. I’m not judging anyone, just trying to understand. I have an IMMENSE respect for all you, moms, who stand up for your kids. In fact, I’m jealous… I would love to have had a mom like you girls.

  24. NotoriousDSG says:

    We got your back!!

  25. Tammy says:

    Trust me, you are on the right side of the argument. Why do I say that? Because my parents did the opposite, causing me to try and pretend to be something that I wasn’t. My father beat me when he found me and my sister playing at being princesses. Did it change how I feel about my gender? No. Just led to years of inner torment, which are still going on. Your courage in promoting the correct approach is utterly admirable. Thank you.

  26. jerbearinsantafe says:

    Reblogged this on JerBear's Musings & Memories and commented:
    A great post from one of my favorite bloggers. I fully support her personal crusade to let her boy express himself in what feels most natural for him, irrespective of arbitrary gender affiliations ascribed to everything from clothing to toys. This.mom is making her child free to be himself and fighting to make the world a better place for all gender non-conforming children.

  27. No matter what you have going on as a kid there will be someone there to make fun of you for it. Bullies just Bully everyone. period. Gender non conforming and gay kids are not the only kids that get shit on every day. fat kids and tall kids and short kids and poor kids and different races and religions or lack of them. red heads and bald kids and kids that have any kind of challenge in life as well as kids with odd names and tastes in style that does not conform. When i was a kid i was very poor. so my parents bought me what they could afford. back then i used to get Traks shoes. they were great shoes but they were not in style or a big brand name. they used to be called by the other kids Three Striped Bobos and people would mess with you hard for that. Also my real given name while technically gender neutral got me a LOT of shit.

    saying that OMG you are making your kid a target for bullies by letting them be themselves is bullshit. Bullies will find ANY reason to be a bully. Often it is the only outlet a lot of the bully kids have to have any power over their own lives since a lot of them are powerless at home.

    Honestly if i ever had a kid i would prepare them for the “real World” by telling them that there will be bullies. period. even if they are not going after you they will still be there making someone’s life a living hell. but they are easy to defeat. their thunder is easy to steal when you know how. often humour and sarcasm will work wonders. and of course having permission to flatten the little punk if need be is also a thing. (i was victimized for most of my schooling by various bullies for various reasons. strangely being gay was never really one of them… But i was always told to never fight back. ever. so i did not til one day getting hit in 12th grade my ever lasting fuse finally went off and i basically beat the ever loving crap out of one of my tormentors. No one ever tormented me again) i am guessing a lot of other kids get this never fight back thing too. I know i never wanted to hurt anyone. but if the kid is being beaten telling them they can defend themselves is good i think.

    Anyway. you are doing a wonderful thing for your kid. letting them be who they are and being supportive of that is something so many kids simply do not get. I can only Imagine where so many would be if they had gotten such support instead of being saddled with other peoples dreams and concerns for them.

    • mark says:

      Good post. I learned the fight back lesson in late 7th grade. Saved me 5 more years of torment.

    • Julian you’re so right. Bullies are looking for a target and truly don’t care who or why they target someone. But I think we have to go beyond just teaching our children to stand up for themselves. We have to teach them how and why we need to stand up for others. Teaching through modeling our own behavior. Bystanders who do nothing and/or pretend not to “see” are as harmful as the bully. People who use the “real world” to justify prejudice are the same ones that act solicitous after the bully walks away but never do anything to help. They can be more damaging to the victim. At least with a bully you know where you stand.

  28. Nina says:

    I abhor it when people invoke “the real world.” Do they mean the one that we are all working to improve? The idea that “this is just the way it is” ALLOWS the status quo to reign. (I am very much attempting to comment on the positive, instead of voicing the disgust and irritation I feel when people like Zuckerberg blather on, poisoning the well over and over.) I am so, so happy, so so inspired, when I read this blog and read the responses. Thinking, feeling, compassionate people who will CHANGE the world with love. The real world.

  29. Jenn says:

    Yes we do live in the real world – and my world has one very gender non conforming son in it. My real world – and the headline I love the most when I first saw Amelia’s response – “I will not be my child’s first bully”.

  30. Jw says:

    I have no respect for Ms. Zuckerberg’s opinions on this or other topics that have been covered by the media. She thinks it is 20 years too early to let our sons be themselves and we should just hide our boys in the closet. Well, in order for things to change, we need people to challenge stereotypes and other people to become more accepting and to show this to others. It is very clear that Ms. Zuckerberg has no intention of being a leader for change and she just expects it to happen. Sadly, she is a person who has the means to make a difference. Thank goodness for other more courageous women. You know, she didnt even suggest that she was going to teach her own child to be openminded. Sad. So, a serious question for Ms. Zuckerberg…Do I need to put my boy in the closet for playing with barbies? Or does he need to be a fulll-fledged, dress wearing threat?

  31. sealinc2 says:

    I rolled my eyes so hard I thought they’d fall out. I mean, right there in the first paragraph, she used the name of her business in a sentence with a link to it. So, she’s basically written a link to her business with an article wrapped around it. And neither of them make sense. Yet another person who knows nothing trying to make some money off of gender variance.

  32. I will now take this fierce post and SLATHER it across Facebook. HA!

    People yelled at me for being Sister Unity (I’m one of the very gender non-conforming “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” her ein LA: we dress like drag nuns and raise money for charities) on the day gay marriage became legal in California… I was there performing weddings myself (yes I’m legal). They admonished me for the same Zuck-ass reasons: you’re making the scared gay people scared about the straight people not liking us cause we’re gay”. Oooo I was so hoping mad I wrote a fairy tale about it and posted it on YouTube!

    I wish I’d thought to argue back to them right then (you always think of it later, eh?) “I’m so SORRY I’m TOO GAY! Just when were you planning on telling the straight people that some of us wear dresses? Because they are bound to find out you know; they’re smart that way.” Grrrr!

    Thank you for posting this and posting the excerpts.. now to hit Facebook with it.

  33. Peter says:

    When did Mark Zuckerbergs sister become relevant to anything?

  34. Paula Turner says:

    I hate the term “real world” when used in reference to people not living in it. Gender non-conforming people do live in the real world, they DON’T live in the unreal world of imposed expectations. C.J. is blessed because he is not only encouraged but celebrated for who he is. That, thankfully, is his real world. I am completely unqualified to speak about parenting a gender non-conforming child and yet I am still more qualified than a person whose credentials are based on her relationship to someone famous, not her own achievements.

  35. Dawn Jordan says:

    I applaud your ongoing support of your`s and all children who are not the stereotypical type that they were born to… This kind of parental support is long overdue… Lets let the word know that there is a plethora of people types, and that is fine.. keep the love.

  36. Rhiannan says:

    And there lies the problem with our world today – yes we have the right to our own opinion and to speak our mind, but aren’t we taught not to hurt others and to love others as ourselves? The bottom line, if this Randi chick hasn’t been around gender non-comforting children, she shouldn’t voice her opinion, because she doesn’t get it. Does she have children of her own? If she does, which I don’t know, she would realize that a good mother loves her kids no matter what. No matter what they like, no matter what they wear, no matter if their favorite color is green or pink! You love your kid because of the wonderful person they are on the inside. Don’t we have bigger things to worry about in this world, like poverty, terrorism, national debt, ect. should she really be wasting her time worrying about what children, that are not even her own, are doing?

  37. Ali says:

    A+ to Amelia for supporting gender non-conforming children, but just be careful of the mindset and logic behind it. Yes, if she has a gender conforming gay son she should be supporting gender nonconforming kids because the gender spectrum and the sexuality spectrum fall under the same types of bullies, but she said that the bullying comes from “homophobia” which is just not on. The bullying that gender nonconforming people face doesn’t come from hatred of gay people, it comes from internalized misogyny and fear of the feminine. Trans*phobia doesn’t come from homophobia, they both derive equally from sexism and the patriarchy. (In the same way that CJ likes girl things doesn’t magically make him gay.)

    • Kirsten says:

      Ali, I agree with you to a point, but I do believe there are parents, adults, and even kids without a gender creative person in the family who do get it and welcome all the amazing ways kids can be in our world. I know this to be true because I am one of those people. It’s this and similar blogs that have greatly informed my understanding and sensibilities about the issues around gender, orientation etc. I am a different and more understanding person because of this blog. What’s more, lots of what happens on this space applies to issues around people who are “non-conforming” in other ways. CJ’s Mom is changing the world her kids are growing up in, one person at a time. How cool is that?

      • Ali says:

        No, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to be a downer! This blog and Amelia’s post are super rad! Just wanted to clarify the difference between homophobia and trans wildcard stuff, because attributing gender nonconforming-ness to homosexuality knocks a whole realm of thought – sexism and the gender binary – off the personal and political table.

    • ChrisCQC says:

      And from the existence of the gender binary. Don’t even get me started on the gender binary.

    • jvoor says:

      I agree. When I read that comment about homophobia, I thought, eh…it’s a bit more complicated than that! Homophobia does not equal transphobia, though they are related.

  38. Christy says:

    ” She supported her argument by quoting parenting guru and gender expert Kanye West ” .– I just laughed out loud, almost woke up my whole household ;-) You are awesome, your friends are awesome, and I’ ll stand behind you and help you in anyway I can. Thank you :-), as always.

    • Sara W. says:

      And the REALLY ironic thing is that the quote she used actually goes completely against the rest of her article!

      I’d never thought of Kanye as progressive but that was actually a pretty thoughtful statement about how limiting gender stereotypes and the way society enforces them are.

      • MM says:

        ( A good part of her article is about how she thinks it is GREAT when kids can dress or be however they want, and how she thinks it is GREAT when parents support that. The Kanye quote seems to be part of that aspect of her article. )

  39. Dr. Sayers says:

    In my experience as a therapist with LGBTQ youth, what matters is that they get the message from home that they are beautiful human beings loved for being exactly who they are. The kids who get that message can deal with the bullies and the haters and the Randi Zuckerbergs of the world. The kids who struggle are the ones whose parents give them the message that they must hide who they are. For these poor kids, the bullying starts in subtle (and maybe even well-meaning) ways at home.

  40. Lucas says:

    I’d try not to worry too much about Ms. Zuckerberg’s take on the issue. I chose to believe that her words come from a well meaning place, however uninformed. Turns out being the sister of a internet multimillionaire doesn’t actually provide great perspective on gender non conforming childrearing. Does, somehow, get you a book deal though…?

    While I’m not (yet) a parent myself, I want to throw my support behind you once again. If you ever feel fatigued in your fight, by all means tag me in. :D

  41. mrBrennan says:

    All for one, and one for all. :-)

  42. Harriet says:

    It seems to me that Ms Zuckerberg lost her good sense, (if she ever had any) and why does she believe she can advise mothers of non-conforming gender children how to raise them, without having a child of her own. And then has the audacity to quote Kanye West as a parenting model/role model? Hooray for Amelia for handling this Zuckerberg twit in the proper manner…with much venom and contempt. All good mothers swear a lot!

  43. Jess says:

    “She supported her argument by quoting parenting guru and gender expert Kanye West.”

    I really blinked at that for a second, thinking “There is a parenting expert named Kanye West? Weird!” Then I got it and now I need to explain to Mum why I laughed ;)

    Love you and the whole wonderful, supportive tribe of people out there- so good to know you are all there!

  44. Camille says:

    Kanye West wears skirts too, Randi.

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