My Son Draws Himself As A Girl

Today my son drew himself as a boy for the first time in his life.  He’s five and a half years old.  For that many years, when he has drawn himself, he has drawn himself as a girl.

In the mediums of crayon, colored pencil and marker, our son is a beautiful girl with long red hair, a big puffy ball gown the color of cotton candy and a tiara with a gigantic heart-shaped stone front and center.  Sometimes he’s a sassy girl in a jean skirt, black leather jacket and knee-high boots.  Sometimes he’s a girl going to school in a hot-pink t-shirt dress and purple high top sneakers with turquoise socks peaking out.

It took his dad and me a while to get used to seeing our son’s self-portraits.  For a long time there was the urge to correct him, to remind him that he is a boy and his renderings weren’t accurate.  We fought that urge until it wasn’t there anymore.  Feelings of uneasiness popped up in us here and there when it was time for arts and crafts, especially when there were other people around.  I’ve had to remind myself that you never tell an artist that his or her art is bad or wrong — art can’t be those two things (especially when you are five).

Being acutely aware that children who continually, over an extended period of time draw themselves as the opposite sex are more likely to be transgender, we have always wondered if and when the day would come when our boy would draw himself as a boy looking like a boy.  We imagined that if it ever happened we would feel a sense of relief and happiness.  Then, it happened and we were nothing but sad.

C.J. has just started kindergarten and at his school every kindergartner is matched up with a “Kinderbuddy,” an older student at the school who will see C.J. on a regular basis throughout the year to read to him, play with him and mentor him.  Hopefully they will have a mutually beneficial and special relationship.

Because the school tries to match up Kinderbuddies based on sex/gender, C.J.’s Kinderbuddy is a boy.  Because C.J.’s sex and gender aren’t in total alignment, that process for matching up Kinderbuddies isn’t exactly ideal.

On their first day of meeting, the Kinderbuddies had to sit together and draw a picture of themselves together.  That’s when it happened; C.J. drew himself as a boy next to his boy Kinderbuddy.

“Mommy, I got a Kinderbuddy today.  And, he’s so cool!  He’s a teenager!” C.J. said after school.  By “teenager” he meant “sixth grader.”

He showed us the picture that they had drawn together.  We didn’t recognize our son.  We looked at each other in shock.

“Hey, Buddy…how come you drew yourself as a boy?” C.J.’s Dad asked casually.

“Oh, that’s because I didn’t want my Kinderbuddy to know that I like girl stuff,” C.J. said matter-of-factly.

Our hearts sank.  We had always thought that things would feel more right, more normal, on the day that C.J. finally drew himself as a boy, but things didn’t.  Things felt sad because our son had to do it out of self-preservation.  He did it to adapt and conform.  He did it to hide his true self.  It felt like he had lost some of his innocence.

Diane Ehrensaft, an expert on raising gender nonconforming children, once wrote:

“Gender creative children are blessed with the ability to hold on to the concept — that we all had one time in our lives — that we were free to be anything we wanted – boy, girl, maybe both.”

With that drawing, it felt like our son was losing his grip on the concept that he is free to be anything he wants to be.  Was he losing his grip?  Or, was he tightening his grip on the concept and exercising control over when it could be on display and when it couldn’t?

C.J. didn’t want to hang his Kinderbuddy drawing on the fridge or his bedroom door for all to see like he usually wants to do with his art.  He wanted to throw it away.

“Why?” I asked.

“Cause that’s not really me,” he said as he sat in the sun at our dining room table, drawing himself with a side ponytail, purple shirt with a pink heart on it and an orange skirt.


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76 Responses to My Son Draws Himself As A Girl

  1. Victoria says:

    I think what most troubles me is the school’s insistence/decision (?) to match girls with girls and boys with boys in their kinder buddy program. My children’s school has a similar program for kindies and gr 1 kids being matched with older kids, (and perhaps it is based upon personality) but gender wise it is all mixed up with each junior elementary kid being matched with a senior elementary kid — end of story. It strikes me that there are issues when the school’s administration is imposing a gender binary on kids. That is not only problematic for the younger kids, but the older one’s as well. I think CJ is doing just fine. It is the school that needs some major help. I also really dislike the cookie-cutter stencil the school gets them to colour in. CJ never drew himself and neither did his buddy. They just coloured in the boy template. I wonder if there is a girl template, too, with the requisite skirt/dress to be coloured. CJ is one smart cookie. He understood the direction from the top and played along. But, ugh, that school needs a serious (gentle but firm 😏) talking to.

  2. lynn oliver says:

    I am wondering if through modeling, some boys see the more aggression and less kind treatment around them facing either themselves or other boys at home, in the neighborhood, and in school. Perhaps they are also seeing the much more kind, stable, supportive love, and care given the girls around them and much more positive attention they are given. This contrast of life and treatment could signal to them from a young age they would be more safe and cared for more as a girl.
    Perhaps some parents have it wrong in seeing raising boys to be very tough as the best way to prevent weakness in a Male child. Perhaps this could set up instead, more contrast in treatment seen by the child and thus create either a more aggressive child or one that want to emulate the other gender to avoid more aggressive treatment.

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  4. 3wkids says:

    you are very lucky to have him and he is very lucky to have you!
    Communication is the key. But you know this already, since you have raised such a wonderful kid 🙂

  5. yourlesbianfriend says:

    I re-blogged this post and said: “The incredible bloggers from Raising My Rainbow posted this on September 19th about their son’s gender creativity. Reading about their family moves me to tears, and I firmly believe this is the way every family should raise their children: lovingly allowing them to be whatever they want to be—whether it’s a boy, a girl, a firefighter or a princess.

    Check out this amazing post and read many more! We should all learn from CJ’s family.”

    I explore how gender constructs and expectations are built into our culture and how we can best deconstruct them. I would love to hear any suggestions you might have for topics, since you have such first-hand experience with gender non-conformity.

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  7. That’s heart-breaking.

  8. Poppy says:

    i just want to say you are great parents for accepting CJ for who he/she is, i suffered for all my life trying to be the “man” my family wanted until recently now i have come out as transgendered and feel like a huge weight has been lifted off me, CJ is very lucky to have you as parents.

  9. Kate says:

    Thank you.

    For me, it was Grade 2 where I learned it was social death to be gender non-conforming. For me, it was the Christmas pageant. My class was doing a rendition of the 12 days and we were significantly boy heavy. We needed volunteers to play “maids-a-milkin” and I could think of nothing that I wanted more. When I volunteered, I was shunned and from that exact moment onward, for 35 years, I kept my soul to myself. All to myself.

    I am crying as I type this, because it was such a pivotal moment in my life. I chose my path at age 7. I was introspective enough to know my soul, observant enough to see what society expected, intelligent enough to see the ramifications of non-conformity, and weak enough to take the path that would torment me for decades.

    It was the early ’70s. It was a different time. I am now happy beyond words and would change not a thing. I am the product of my experiences and to change one, would be to change all. Nonetheless, I recall the suffering. I remember the agony. I am encouraged by the change in our times, regardless of how glacial it is.

    I have been a woman for years. I’m normal, plain, unremarkable. I’m just like any other. Except I’m not. Thank you again, for bringing me back to who I am and how great I truly have it to have found the courage to be me, regardless of how long it took.


  10. Taryn Powell says:

    Your son will grow up to be completely and absolutely fabulous, no matter his gender. He’s got you on his side.

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  12. Awwww!

    It sounds like your son knows himself well enough. And although it’s a shame that he feels he has to hide his real self, it’s a skill he may — unfortunately — have to rely on in future.

    Call it growing up a little …..

  13. I don’t understand why the school would not match him up with a girl Kinderbuddy. Makes no sense to me.

  14. I always enjoy reading your stories about CJ. This one really hit home for me. I’m a transgender girl, and when i was his age I did the exact same thing, only instead of hiding my interests from just other children at my school, I hid from my peers and family as well. It really screwed me up for a long time until I finally accepted who I am. I still hide from my parents, as they have openly advocated violence against the LGBT community at large. I really wanted to let you know that you are the epitome of the mother I wish I had. Your husband seems to be amazing as well. I want to give the both of you a great big hug because you are amazing parents. CJ is so lucky to have you two. I wish you all the best of luck in the future, and I hope you, your husband, and CJ live long, happy lives.

    ❤ Alyssa

  15. Eli Strong says:

    This post just makes me want to clamor to be your child’s Kinderbuddy! I want to tell him that he can be who ever he wants to be…and that I will stand behind him, just like his parents have. As a transman raised in a conservative southern home, with parents who became my biggest champions, I thank you wholeheartedly for sharing your story via this blog. If you’d like to see a great story of some very positive trans folks and their amazing parents, check out this NatGeo documentary:
    -Eli Strong

  16. Abby says:

    I have been a long time reader of your wonderful blog but I seldom comment (I always love it and you). I just found this and wanted to make sure you were aware of it: apparently you can get a postcard from Disney characters if you write to them. As I neither have children nor do I live close to Disney Land/World, I don’t know how well this is advertised but I wanted to share. I’m sorry CJ feels he has to hide who he is, this post made me cry. Maybe a postcard from a princess will help him out?

  17. Ashley says:

    Maybe ask the “kinderbuddy” what he feels about cross-gender behavior and identity. He may be open to it, maybe not. If he is open to it, maybe the kinderbuddy can help CJ determine if he really IS transgender. If the kinderbuddy is going to be hostile to CJ best to get it in the open and change buddies NOW. CJ will evenually slip and if there is an issue, you want to prevent the adverse reaction.

  18. jungalero1101 says:

    Just saw a photo posted on the “Humans of New York” Facebook page of a young son on a NYC sidewalk wearing pink fairy wings and holding a wand. The quote from the mother says, “He wanted to be a princess, and I thought it was a little early to be imposing gender.” Thankfully the contingent of people doing the same as you is getting bigger…so happy to see this tide of change.

  19. deb says:

    Oh my, that is sad…for both C.J. *and* the Kinderbuddy. So glad, though, that CJ. Is completely secure in your feelings and support for him. Here’s hoping the Kinderbuddy can get to know the real C.J.

  20. Dennis Elms says:

    I would suggest getting the school involved. I suspect from CJ’s cmments that the Kinderbuddy was probably aware of the situation, made aware of it by the teacher after you made the teacher aware, and this is the future you can expect from this school unless something is done. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I have suspicions from this that the kinderbuddy is pressuring CJ or making CJ feel uncomforrtable.

    • mark says:

      Gee, i didn’t get that at all. I just felt he thought his buddy was cool, and was reticent about being too open too soon, and merely chose to keep it close. Wise move in my opinion, but didn’t get any inkling that the buddy had anything to do, said or did anything at all to get the school involved.

      • mixbyhand says:

        I also didn’t get that – my guess is the buddy is just a “regular” cis boy and CJ wants to be accepted so is playing the part of the same. I do think though, that the school should be involved. It makes absolutely no sense to match people based solely on gender (especially if gender is conceived as a binary). I think CJ should stay with his current buddy if that’s his choice, but advocating that students be matched based on common interests, at least in the future, could help future CJs immensely. Big hearts to you, your husband, and mostly CJ and all the other tender genders out there.

  21. Reading that made me sad because he ws made to feel like he shouldn’t have been himself with someone who was his “Kinderbuddy”. But I’m proud that he was able to say that it wasn’t him and go on with his life. He’s a smart kid, and he’ll figure things out quickly. It doesn’t really mean he’s losing his innocence, it just means it’s realizing that sometimes it is better just to move on from things.
    Keep being a wonderful mother
    Xoxo Radium

  22. Raven says:

    Just wanted to let you know I nominated you for a One Lovely Blog Award because you’re doing it right.

  23. emmamulligan says:

    So amazing! I’m so happy you’ve raised a child who, even though he might feel compelled to “pass”, is still strong enough to say “That’s not really me.”

  24. sarahjamalwriter says:

    Wow, wonderful post. I wish the very best to you guys and your awsome, unique child!!

  25. heellygirl says:

    First off I would like to say that you are great parents and a great family. As a Rainbow child myself I grew up in another environment all together. My father treated me like a object to step on. He even went so far one time when I was to “”girlie”” for him. He took me, beat me, like he always did, and then proceeded to chop my hair off & threw me in a dress and locked me out in the backyard. He loved to make a scene of me in the neighborhood. I think it made he feel validated. I further got bullied constantly at school throughout my life. That is the basic story. My life is oh so much longer, sadder and finally much brighter than it was than.

    Much like you I live in the conservative minded O.C. As a 40 yr old who transitioned over 7 years ago, with the help of a fabulous surgeon, psych, mother, step father, and a totally wonderful wife (married for 13 years & transitioned while we stayed married & together) & an awesome 8 yr old daughter who would fight for me til the end Life as a member of the LGBTQI community can be hard and we all sadly face ignorant people who hurt us to the bone, life can get better and be real good with the right people in our lives. Thankfully, CJ & the world have people like you in it. Thank you for being you. Together and with many others we make the world so much brighter.

    Don’t hesitate to ever reach out to those of us in the community who are sharing your journey. It takes a lot of strength, tears, laughs, hand holding, & smiles to change the world!!

    Much love, hugs, & smiles,

  26. myboylikesgirlstuff says:

    I love that CJ knows who he is and can decide when to share himself with others and when not to. This is a skill we all practice when we move through the world. That being said. My heart sank into my stomach when I saw the drawing. It is sad that the adult world takes away the creativity and individuality of children. [sigh] Sometimes I dare to dream of a world where we love and value people for who they truly are.

  27. Kim says:

    I’m a long time silent reader of your blog, and this post reminded me of a song you’d probably like, if you don’t know of it already. It’s “When I was a Boy”, by Dar Williams. There’s a pretty good recording here:

    It’s very much in line with “the concept — that we all had one time in our lives — that we were free to be anything we wanted”.

    • George says:

      Excellent song, sad but somehow . . . not. Thanks!
      Here’s a slightly different take on a similar theme, from a few decades back:

  28. Ally says:

    It may not necessarily be a bad thing. He is going to have to learn how to deal with all types of people in this world. I think it’s remarkably perceptive of him to maybe protect himself until he knows if he can trust this person or not. Unfortunately, he is going to have to learn who to look out for. Hopefully, the school put some thought into who they paired him up with. Or maybe this kid will get to know CJ and if he’s not open minded now, he will become more so for having met CJ. But something tells that while CJ may be being cautious right now, he has no intention of hiding his fabulousness.

  29. 😦 I would consider talking with the teacher to get a new Kinderbuddy assigned to CJ. This just made me so sad.

  30. miafaery says:

    I think it’s always sad to see our kids having to protect themselves against harm….I so wish the world was a different place, everyday. I want to live in a world where all the CJs can be who they are and just be loved…..xxoo

  31. Ann says:

    How vividly I remember the same things with my son. He would rush around to hide his “girl stuff” when a new kindergarten friend was invited over for a play date. It made me so sad that he felt he couldn’t be “himself” with everyone. Now I realize none of us present our whole selves to everyone – we choose how much of us we will share with another every time we interact. A new acquaintance rarely is given every detail of ourselves and C.J. is choosing how much of himself to share too. It’s great that he sees his kinderbuddy as really cool and I bet the buddy will feel the same. There is so much more to C.J. than his gender orientation!

  32. I think as parents our hearts break for our children because we can see the bigger picture and harder times ahead. We have context. But as an outsider reading this post – someone who doesn’t know your family and doesn’t have a vested interest in your son – it didn’t strike me as sad. I saw this amazing boy who at just six years old is already able to make some choices about what part of him to share and what part to be more cautious in sharing (something we all learn to do), who seems to be very pragmatic about it, and who already has the skills of resiliency and articulation. I wish my 9 year old girls knew your son; I’m sure they’re really enjoy him!

  33. Rebecca says:

    I understand that the point of this article is a different (and more important) one, but there´s someting about your account of C.J.´s self portraits that keeps coming back to me… the fact that you say “he´s drawing himself as a girl”.
    Wouldn´t it be more accurate to say “he´s drawing himself in what´s traditionally considered ´girls´ clothes´ and ´- hairstyles´”? After all, the children are all dressed, so I guess you can´t tell whether they have a penis or a vagina. By following your blog, I get the impression that C.J. doesn´t refer to himself as a girl… he “just” likes “girl stuff”. I´m not saying this because I´d have a problem with him being her, that wouldn´t make your family (or your blog) any more or less awesome! Just because I´m trying to understand… Since C.J. likes wearing dresses and maybe even has long hair (does he? I´m not sure), isn´t it just accurate self portraits he´s drawing, without any sex-changing involved?

    • Ally says:

      I agree wholeheartedly with you, Rebecca. It’s not necessarily about body parts. I was a very gender creative girl who wished to be a boy all through 3rd grade. It wasn’t about wanting a penis. I barely understood what that was. It was because I loved football, climbing trees, playing in the mud at that age. It just seemed to be more fun to be a boy to me at that age. By 7th grade I was a complete girly girl and grew up to be a heterosexual woman I was not transgendered or gay, I just liked boy stuff. It was as simple as that. Being a girl it was much easier to get away with. I don’t remember anyone giving me a hard time about it at all.

      • Mark says:

        and the good news Ally was that our culture gave you the opportunity to do just what you liked. The bad news is is it was because we think, btw, both men and women, that the male perspective is the “right one”. So by choosing the right one you were cool. which you are of course but now even MORE cool. 🙂 And CJ and others like girl stuff. Everybody just shakes their head. Sorry, I’m simply not getting this. Seriously, so not getting this. I have to assume then that there’s something wrong with me. (don’t think so though!)

      • George says:

        I agree with both of you. I was a cub scout leader for a decade, and we had a girl in our pack for five years, from Tiger to second-year Webelos. She came to the Tiger meetings with her brother, and when she showed up for my Wolf den, I got her a uniform and her own book, and got her the awards she’d earned from Tigers. She did everything the boys did, including camping trips to the local council’s cub camp. She could have joined our girl scouts, but she said the boys have more fun and do cooler stuff.
        She’s grown now, and isn’t transgender or lesbian. She was just an excellent cub scout, one of the best I ever worked with! Here’s to you, Jenny!

      • Kris says:

        It really depends on where you were born as to whether girls have it “easier” to get away with. I did not. I had to physically defend myself in fights with other kids and remember being chased and hit by pellet-gun-toting peers. I’m only in my 20’s also, so this wasn’t too terribly long ago. Sexuality and Gender shouldn’t matter and they don’t necessarily coincide, however, I am tired of hearing defensive tones about people changing up gender roles and that they “survive” to still be heterosexual. It shouldn’t be touted as being better than any other. All genders and sexualities are okay and none better. I love myself and women and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I would go through everything again still to be who I am today.

      • Ally says:

        @ Kris, i really didn’t mean to imply that I “survived” being gender creative and sorry if it offended you. I was just speaking to my personal experience and meant that crossing gender lines doesn’t have to mean one thing or another. It can be as simple as a kid just having fun being a kid or maybe it is more about their identity overall. My only point is that it should not be that big of a deal either way. I’m sorry that you had a difficult time with it. Stories like that break my heart. I probably didn’t because I was so young but had I been gay or transgendered I’m sure my path would have been more difficult as I got older. But I see things changing for the better and I think it starts with the families. If a kid gets that support from mom and dad, they’ll know it’s okay to be who they are regardless of what the rest of the world tries to tell them

    • Mark says:

      good observation Becca

  34. ShannonT says:

    From the other perspective, my daughter who has short hair and wears loose clothing, never pink, purple or turquoise, was matched with a kinderbuddy who burst into tears when she assumed that her big buddy was a boy.

    When is society going to let go of all these stereotypes?

    • Mark says:

      Sadly, Shannon, it seems to be getting worse, not better. Read Yahoo comments sometime and see the stupidest commentary. Latest one was S. Korean men wearing makeup, and the homophobic commentary just flew. I do what I can to insert some logic, but alas the dutch kid in the dike had better results. Again, it really bothers me that women are too buying this nonsense. But in a way it makes sense. the masculine perspective is the predominant one, and women get to be both girly and shift into the world of men by getting to do those things, so for them it’s a win win. I wonder sometime whether they really believe it or not, or are just playing the game.

      That if I as a male want to cook and nurture, and wear a skirt and paint my nails, well, that’s definately a no-no. But tell me why?

      This is a great bunch of folks. Try going to yahoo, and you’ll see why they call it yahoo.

  35. Lori G. says:

    I feel such envy that you have been able to raise a child so self-aware and so open with you! I tear up every time I read your blog, hopeful I am doing right by my little rainbow!!

  36. anastasia says:

    That… was heartbreaking to read. I’m glad that he felt comfortable enough to throw it away and that he knows who he really is though, because another kid in a situation similar to CJ’s would have kept the image and try to make himself normal. I’m very proud of him and you guys for that. It’s just sad that he’d even have to worry about what other people might think.

    I honestly don’t have any suggestions as to how to make it better. I don’t think it’d change with a different Kinderbuddy. He seems to like this one, even though a girl might have been more ideal. If I was in your positions (though I don’t think I’d ever be able to put myself there), I’d just tell him that it’s okay if he wants to keep it from some people but he doesn’t have to.

  37. Lyn~ says:

    WOW my take on this seems so different from most: I do not find this to be sad….. CJ seems totally aware of who and what he is and how he feels – how compassionate that he chose to draw the male image as not to make his buddy uncomfortable….. yet so strong and comfortable in his own skin that once home he simply dismissed the false image and was clearly able to see and feel where he belonged…….. GO CJ, and as a parent I would feel proud of my child for having mastered his own image enough to be able to offer what is needed for outsiders and still be clear about about who he is. As parents you have created such a safe place for CJ that he is able to do and be what works best for HIM!!! Bravo to this wonderful family!!!

    • mx. punk says:

      lyn, i really don’t think this counts as compassion. framing it as compassion puts the onus on gender nonconforming/trans* folks to not upset gender conforming/cis folks. know what i mean?

      but. yeah, i’m really glad cj said the picture wasn’t accurate and threw it away. i’m also sad that society is so cissexist and misogynist. at least cj has great parents to support him!

  38. Really nice writing here. This story grabbed me by the throat at first and then, by the end, inspired the heck out of me. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

  39. karifur says:

    I think what made me the most sad was the phrase “I like girl stuff”. Who’s to say if something is “girl stuff”? Poor CJ. 😦
    Maybe if you talk to the school they could assign CJ a kinder buddy who is a girl?

  40. regan5 says:

    I remember having to do that in the early 80s. Even at about the same age as CJ, I knew I was expected to draw myself as a boy even though I hardly believed it.

  41. George says:

    Bravo, for throwing out the image that isn’t really him! Unfortunate that he has begun to learn to hide some of who he is, but with the marvelous support he gets at home, he (and the rest of you!) will get through it.
    He will also learn, I hope, that he doesn’t have to hide that part of him from everyone, just a few. He may find that his kinderbuddy is okay with CJ being feminine, although a sixth-grader is in a precarious position with regard to sexuality and his peers, and may react badly to being buddies with a “girly-boy”. Either way, I wonder how long CJ can pretend to be something he’s not, to be friends with his kinderbuddy, before he begins to question if it’s worth it.
    I’m curious how much of his feminine side he is displaying in school now, as opposed to last year. Hey, BTW, what was the teacher’s response to your letter?
    >sigh< Life can be such a twisted minefield sometimes, especially for those who step off the usual path. Hoping for smooth sailing for CJ! Hugs to you and yours!

  42. mark says:

    Otoh, since unfortunately we all have to conform in some ways, some more so than others, this is good practice for CJ for his future. He’s handling it well, subtly yet intellectually understanding that while he knows who he is, he also is clearly getting that others won’t get it. That’s true for all of us, others don’t, and maybe it’s impossible for them to really get who we are.

    • Denise says:

      I’m glad you posted this. As someone who always accepted people for who they were, I sometimes forget that there are people out there who don’t do that. I want C.J.s buddy to just go with the flow and let him be who he is, but the reality is that it could go the other way just as easily.

  43. jenxbyron says:

    I am also near tears, because I have to hide who I am every day, and it sucks. I’ve always hoped our kids wouldn’t have to go through that. He’s such a brave little guy.

    • Mark says:

      you let it out little by little Jen, starting with the ones you can trust. The others already know you’re hiding something, they just don’t know what. For example. I like to paint my toes. I just like it. i like the color, or the shine, heck I don’t know, I just plain like it.

      I’m diabetic, so I take good care of my feet. That’s a big deal with diabetics. So I get pedicures on a regular basis, ala Dean McDermott, look him up. I’m totally straight, hate hunting and Nascar, although would kill if I liked to eat it, and I really LOVE driving fast in twisties-I do have a sports car.

      I’m going on a family vacation, in laws this next week. My cosmopolitan sister in law saw my deep blue toes last year and went off the wall. “WTF, WTF????” I could care less. Now I know she’s not cosmo but basically a narrow minded hick. It’s HER hidden little lie.

      Yesterday a casual friend asked what I was doing this week. Told her about the vacation and the boating and spas for my wife and SIL’s and MIL, and golfing. I told her I’d probably do a pedi there, maybe mani as I’d never had one of those-might like, it maybe not. She says, and does NOT know I color since we’re casual friends, to paint them black. I said I would prefer maybe dark maroon, maybe blue, and she laughs and says that would be awesome too. Black is just too cliche. So there you have it.

      I ride a motorcycle too. Saying in that crowd is, ride what you love, love what you ride. Everybody has an opinion. Harleys rule. Nope, Honda’s or Yamahas, your Harley will be puking oil when I go past you. Same is true here. Do what YOU like, like what YOU do.

      But seriously, NOTHING what you like, hurting no one else, is wrong. NOTHING! Correlation to CJ here: yes be protective, there are alot of neanderthals yet out there. Protective is smart. But let your secrets out and you’ll be free.

      • jenxbyron says:

        The only place I have secrets is work. It’s hard enough to find a job, without letting them see the real me.

      • Mark says:

        ahhh, you didn’t mention work. In that case you’re one smart cookie for being the work Jen, not the real Jen. Seriously. That’s the smart thing. I am corporate Mark too, which ties in nicely with CJ. He’s now kindergarten CJ, and absolutely nothing wrong with that at this point in time. Like others have said, it’s sad that we just can’t BE. But tell me when was the last time you ran across one of them in everyday, all the time life. Hmmmm. Raarely, but when I did, and still sometimes do, I envy the heck out of them. 🙂 And basically what your saying is that you don’t trust them, especially when income and your life is in the mix. again, smart because I don’t trust them either. And from CJ’s dad’s comments, he really doesn’t trust the guys he works with, and so that is what it really boils down to in the end. Trust, or not trust.

  44. Shelly says:

    My son is also a pink boy, has also just started Kindergarten, and, like CJ and the other parents who responded to this post, is also starting to “hide” his likes and preferences a bit more, *particularly at school. Some of this is due to their age, as this is the age in which kids become more concerned with what others “think” of them. Yet, I do agree with you that this is tied up in concerns about gender presentation. I try to encourage my son to express himself in ways that he feels comfortable, which vary by situation, and encourage him to try to rely on mom and dad if he has questions on whether a situation is “safe.” Have you talked to the principal and/or teacher about CJ? Maybe he needs another Kinderbuddy–or, two Kinderbuddies, one male and one female. CJ, keep being yourself, sweetie! Our kids are really such an inspiration to others. It never ceases to amaze me how unbelievably brave they are every single day.

  45. Jenn says:

    😦 I think this is the hardest part. At the time, I thought nothing would be harder than accepting that my child was “different”, true to hm self but not the norms. I have been going though the same issues with my son (5.5) for the past 8 months. He spends so much time working out where we are going and who we are seeing before he would pick out his clothes for the day, nothing sparkly ever goes to school anymore and pig tails have become a thing of the past. It had become such a common thing for him to put on his boys clothes now that I actually thought he might be loosing a bit of his creativeness, and turning back into a ‘boy”. That concept was shattered when we were in the linen department at the shops the other day, and he fell in love with a smashing pink a flowery bed set. I couldn’t help but get it for him. But it completely broke my heart about how much self moderating he is doing. He’s not changing, he is hiding.

    On the bright side for me, completely in contract to you, last night he came home with a book that he and his buddy (gr 4) had written and illustrated together, and it was titled “The disappearing fairy” with pink and purple writing and matching pictures 🙂 His buddy is a girl, and they are perfect for each other.

  46. I just wanted to tell you, I read your blog often and have recruited many others to read as well. Even though I am not a mother, I love your posts. I just want to hug your son and throw glitter with him. I think CJ is an inspiration, even to my 26 year old self.

  47. Ellen says:

    As always such a wonderfully written account…makes me sad as it did you and your husband. Hopefully CJ will come to terms with this and maybe let his kinderbuddy see the real CJ. One can hope.

  48. Lance says:

    This reminds me of my childhood. I was not gender-conforming but that behavior was never supported by my family. In my room, alone, I would draw myself with feminine qualities, but would always destroy the picture before anyone saw it.

    • Mark says:

      Sorry you remember that part Lance. really. To have to destroy it, rather than hide it is two different things. Pulling the cloak over is the normal thing for everybody and I wish you might have done that, but I do completely understand that that wasn’t enough for you at that time. That’s okay of course. Looking at what I just wrote, I’m not saying it well, and I apologize for that, and I really hope you get what I meant.

  49. Oh, wow . . . I’m on the verge of tears, too. Poor CJ!


    • I should add that I love the idea of kinderbuddies! I hope C.J.’s relationship with his goes well. C.J. seems to like him, and that’s a good start. Maybe he’ll end up a good ally for C.J. Plus, who knows, maybe his buddy will turn out to be gay. 🙂

  50. Jenny says:

    Oh Mom, I am going thru the same thing with my 4 year old son right now. It breaks my heart to see him hide. I had recently started letting him wear his sisters twinkle toes shoes to school. He was so in love with them. He has stopped wearing them though because the other kids started teasing him. His teacher was very good about rectifying the teasing, but the damage was done and he isn’t wearing them anymore.
    My mother came over today and my son had on his Rapunzel costume and as soon as she showed up he changed into his boy clothes. He already knows she doesn’t approve. As soon as she left, Rapunzel was back on! It is never going to be easy is it. I am so nervous for Elementary school. CJ is close to my heart. Thank you for sharing your lives with us.

  51. Such a lovely post 🙂 It looks like the boy drawing is using a template maybe they just colored it in while chatting. Is it sad? I don’t know, he is learning to conform, we all have to do that in life, be it not having long hair as a male for an office job or just biting our tongues.
    School is a tough place, my son was bullied in his first year and we are still fighting it. Jake conforms 100% but he is very much in touch with his feminine side, very emotional and gentle. Which I wouldn’t change for anything but that was enough to get him picked on.

  52. scutaloo says:

    Oh, too sad.
    I really hope there is some friendly and positive way to let the Kinderbuddy know of C.J.’s “real C.J.”. They are supposed to be comfortable around each other, aren’t they?

  53. Vic Anne says:

    I sneezed right before reading this, which made my eyes water a little bit and now I just want to cry! Poor C.J.! I hope you can maybe talk to some of the teachers or something to see if he can change his Kinderbuddy. Have you talked to his teacher yet this year?

  54. Larry says:

    Very moving. Thank you for sharing this story.

  55. Laura says:

    This makes me want to cry.

  56. Lee says:

    😦 I wish I could give CJ a big hug here. It sounds like CJ might be transgender….

  57. Once again Brilliant! Thank you.

  58. bluerosegirl08 says:

    oh wow…that is sad

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