Reflections: Raising My Rainbow Turns Two

Well, hello there 2013, what do you have in store for us this year?


Mannequin head with human hair that can be heat styled = One of C.J.’s favorite Christmas presents.

A friend of mine doesn’t like odd-numbered years because they are typically unlucky for her.  I thought back on my odd-numbered years.  My odd-numbered years include graduation from high school, graduation from college, getting married, having C.J.’s Brother, having C.J. and starting this blog.  If I didn’t want to jinx myself, I’d say that odd-numbered years have always been good to me.

Two years ago I started Raising My Rainbow because I had a two-(almost three)-year-old boy who liked “girl toys” and “girl clothes.”  I was full of questions and anxiety.  I didn’t know what was going on with my son and his preferences.  I didn’t know what I was supposed to do as his parent.  I had a million questions but no answers.  I used humor and writing to cope and started to feel my way down a path I hadn’t ever expected to take.

Then, things got emotional as my readers educated me and I realized that the simple act of my son playing with a doll could be a signal of much bigger things to come.  Was our son a girl born into the body of a boy?  Was he transgender, transsexual, effeminate, gay, gender queer, gender fluid, gender creative, gender nonconforming, something else?  What do those terms really mean anyway?

As parents, my husband and I have asked each other and ourselves questions that we never anticipated.  What if our son is gay?  What if our son is bullied?  What do we do when our third grader threatens suicide because he’s bullied for having a gender nonconforming brother?  Ten years from now, will we have two sons or one son and one daughter?


Another favorite Christmas gift? A Monster High bike with bag to hold his granola bars and bracelets.

During the last two years, we slowly got to the point where we knew the answer to each of the questions above and dozens of others.  It’s the same answer, no matter the question: We’ll deal with it.  We’ll love, support and provide a safe home for our children no matter what.  Realizing that answer gave us power and reassurance.

We’ll deal with it.  We’ll deal with it.  We’ll.  Deal.  With.  It.

We began to own our differences.  All of us: Me, C.J.’s Dad, C.J.’s Brother and C.J.  We began to live free of shame.  Then, four months ago, C.J. started kindergarten and stopped owning it.  We’ve watched as our diva son who was once brimming with confidence and self-assuredness realized that his peers had less than favorable opinions about what he likes and wears, about how he talks and walks, about how he sits with his legs crossed like a girl and has a wrist that goes limp when not kept in check.

There was a time when our gender creative son didn’t care about what other people thought about him, but we did – big time.  We were stuck caring what others would think or say or do.  He owned it, but we didn’t.  We followed his lead.  We caught up.  And, when we started owning it and not giving a shit about the reactions and judgments of others, C.J. started noticing and caring and adjusting his behaviors accordingly.  It felt like we were two steps behind.  We caught up to him.  We were all at the same point for a time holding hands.  And, then C.J. took a step back, yanking us back with him.

Back we went, following his lead.  Loving him, not changing him.


He’s been rocking his new beanie day and night.

When I started this blog I promised myself that I’d write for a year and reassess.  I did that and decided to continue writing for another year and reassess.  I just spent two weeks doing that.  I’ve decided to give it another year.  And, I’ll need your help, feedback and support more than ever before as we enter a new phase.

I hope that you’ll continue to follow and be a part of our adventures.  There’s comfort in knowing that you care and are cheering us on.

Let’s make 2013 fabulous!


Mom, Dad, Brother and C.J.

About raisingmyrainbow is a blog about the adventures in raising a fabulous, gender creative son.
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94 Responses to Reflections: Raising My Rainbow Turns Two

  1. Clay Severns says:

    People always make fun of others. I got my share when I was in the elementary school because my dad is mentally ill. It will not get better, so just teach him how to deal with it without being depressed.

  2. violetkeppel says:

    ps. I wanted you to see this…the part about children 😉

  3. violetkeppel says:

    As a mother, I thank you for keeping on writing this blog.
    My son is just 6 months old, I started following you when I was still pregnant. If my baby boy would ever show different preferences, I hope I’ll be able to be half the mother you are.
    I’m from Italy…Your words are going far.
    Thank you.

  4. dunibug says:

    I adore your blog…and have such admiration for your family….the way you and your husband act is heartening and life affirming…I many times think about cj’s dad’s entry from early on…discussing cj playing with that first Barbie…if a jock/bully kid can grow up to love and support an out of the box kid…not only you lucked out, but cj won the parent lottery…you are so insightful and inspiring…if only I had parents like you growing up….I thank you for writing this blog

  5. mothlit says:

    Again, so very thoughtful and honest. And I find myself now searching the middle years–the ones between Mary Poppins and nail-painting and necklace stringing and the day he told me he was gay (he was 16). As I recall, things took a more androgynous turn, and I wonder now if that wasn’t something akin to the “step back” you describe. The one comment I remember was sometime during his freshman year before he came out. He said, “Mom, if I was gay, I would NEVER come out in middle school. Kids are just cruel.”

  6. Pingback: Keep It Up, Raising My Rainbow Turns Two | walkingphilly

  7. 5affy says:

    Ok first off don’t panic – most kids tend to lose confidence when they start school – all of them will be having some sort of fitting in crisis and the social groups of the play ground will be forming. There will be the beginnings of bullying and friendships and the blurring of those boundaries. If you have a good teacher these things should be well approached, if not then all you can do is be there to talk to your child.

    Kids will always find something to pick on… glasses, colour, IQ, speech patterns, socio-economic class, religion, clothing, fat parents, grandparent in a wheelchair etc…

    Good luck and talk to the school if you’re really worried.

  8. insaniteen says:

    I’ve mentioned before that we raised a step-daughter who is gay and really had no idea if we were doing anything right at the time so we followed her lead. She was able to be open and upfront with her peers while still in high school and openly date other girls without worry of being bullied or hurt. A blog like this one would have been helpful. Personally, I think you guys are doing a fantastic job. I was saddened to see how C.J. started covering up who he was in order to be accepted at school but then I remembered that our girl did the same for a while and it still turned out okay. I wish the same for you and your family.

  9. I began trawling the blogosphere for gender-nonconforming blogs about six months ago as a way to try to understand my 5-year-old self-confessed “tomgirl”. Of all the blogs I found, only you and Pink is for Boys have posted anything in the last five months. Please don’t stop (although you are, of course, completely free to do so…). You give me hope.


    • Ally says:

      Another one that you might enjoy is It’s very uplifting. This mom is in a small village in England, I think, where the community knows and accepts her non-conforming son and she is in a position to worry much less (from how it comes across to me) and just fully embrace and enjoy this part of her child. Not saying that these other parents don’t, but because of our society, the stress and worry have got to be overwhelming at times and I’m sure this mom has her moments too. But it’s like getting a glimpse at how the world could be if people would put aside their judgement, fear, homophobia and just let other people live their lives openly and honestly.

  10. Parker says:

    Your blog is educational and entertaining. Your family has my sympathy when you encounter bullies, my admiration for the way you handle them, and my gratitude for the part you play in changing the world for the better.

    Love, Parker

  11. Colleen says:

    Thank you for continuing! I have been following you for over a year and it has been so reassuring to see my experience raising a 6 year old gender creative son reflected in your words. I think you have helped many of us realize we (and our children) are not alone. You have also helped me find the language to use when I describe my son to others.

  12. mark says:

    I’d like to comment here about something I’ve been thinking about for quite awhile. First off, y’all are doing a marvelous job on this journey. Simply fabulous.. But it seems to me that what this really is all about is the struggle against gender stereotyping. This to me is the entire underlying cultural issue with boys especially who don’t quite conform in even the slightest ways are and must be gay. Complete nonsense. Their orientation is built in, it cannot be cured, nor does it need to be because there’s nothing wrong with them.
    It would seem to me that your family’s struggle is rooted in the underlying belief, so common, yet so wrong, of the prevailing viewpoint of what men and women ought to be. Totally understandable. But it was a false presumption from the start.
    I was born in the beginning of the modern feminist movement, raised and trained to accept women to be my equal and having the same dreams for their life as I did have for my life. As a result, I have little in the way of gender bias, to be fair I probably have some, but hopefully it’s minimal as and doesn’t affect too much. I had a great mom that told me I was the light of the world, but I wasn’t all that special. I learned humility and grace for the most part. So today I can partner with my wife and clean the house, though it’s not my nature to like it all that well. I can also tas

    • mark says:

      Gosh I hate Android at times!!!! I can also talk eye shadow color with her if she wants, my problems with my lawnmower or whatever. So to me, let’s all work on breaking gender stereotyping where we see it, and just ,maybe picking a monster high doll for anybody will no longer need the angst of a blog like this-although I’d miss it. The tradeoff would be well worth it. Thank you! Mark

  13. slowly you are changing the world ❤ namaste

  14. Christy says:

    You are a wonderful person and I feel blessed being able to share your family experiences through this blog. I have a little girl who has liked boy things since she was about 2.5 years old 🙂 I recently wrote into Ellen Degeneres (about gender issues, specifically with young children and adolescents) and I mentioned you and how amazing your blog is. I look forward to every new entry. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. ❤

  15. capricornscott says:

    First, let me say that I love your blog. Documenting this journey for all of us to follow with you has been an blessing and an amazing experience for me as a reader.

    Over the past two years, I have noticed several things in my own life, As a gay man, that resembles CJ’s. I played with Barbie (as an older brother I always used the excuse that I was just playing with my little sister). I have a special spot of appreciation for the glamorous women in the media (like Kate Middleton).

    I have always been so jealous that he had such a care free attitude and let other people know about his nontraditional interests. But one thing that I have hoped I wouldn’t see in CJ appears to have happened. I really became aware of my sexuality in middle school and wasn’t able to start owning it until my senior year of high school.

    Having people in his life like his family and friends that support him will make his journey easier. I just hope he is able to re-discover his inner Princess and be proud of who he is.

    I know I am.

  16. Spydermonkey says:

    I haven’t read your blog long, a few months. But I do find myself looking forward to every new post. Myself growing up, I wasn’t as open about myself, nor did I really find “me” until I was a teen. I did endure more than my shair of teasing while I was growing up, but usually it was just the typical kids stuff.
    I’m very happy to hear that you will keep posting, your blog really gives me hope for the future kids comming up will have it easyer, & be more accepted than I, and others I know in my generation were when we were groing up.
    I think one of the hardest parts of growing up in the closet is having to lead basicly a double life. One that everyone knows & see’s, and then this second “life” that we knew to hide, that we feared would others would see the real “me” and ….
    I am, and was lucky. If I didn’t tell you, or you didn’t already know, I doubt you would ever have guessed that I am a gay man..(unless joe is with me:)

  17. aiofse says:

    Thank you for sharing your adventure. I love your blog; your family is fabulous; and you are my role model in accepting whatever comes. I wish you and your family all the best.

  18. Simone says:

    All I care about is that CJ and his family are happy however they choose to “own it”–whether it’s out loud or quietly, internally . . . Growing up is frustrating and challenging, and I hope that CJ finds positive, healthy ways to deal with it. He sounds like such an amazing kid. His classmates have no idea how lucky they are to know him; he will always have an impact (hopefully a good one!) on their lives and the way they treat others as they too grow up. Brava CJ’s Mama! You are so amazing! 2013 is going to be a fabulous year–I can feel it too!

  19. Lance says:

    Happy New Year to you, your family,, and all the readers! Here’s to a fabulous 2013!

  20. Rebecca Center says:

    As a teacher at my 8 year old “daughter’s” school (she is in the process of transitioning at school now from male to female), teachers can have a huge impact on the classroom response to gender non-conforming behavior. My then son brought princesses to kindergarten through second grade for show and tell. He did wear androgynous clothes to school and favored purple (I think because pink was too daring). He had princess keychains on his backpack and drew pictures of princesses. Our school is 60% latino and about 60% free and reduced lunch. Teachers have been proactive and done lessons (we follow an Open Circle curriculum) on respecting differences. When they saw his show and tell dolls, they would immediately pull out book with a respecting differences theme before the sharing of the doll. In his/her time at school there has only been one negative comment made to him by another student. In two days they have an Open Circle in the classroom about the transition. So far, some concerns from parents, but none from the kids!

  21. Jwr says:

    Thanks for continuing. The experiences you share are definitely helping this mom of a gender creative son. People obviously enjoy your writing and are touched by your story. I hope that some of them will even be inspired to help make this world less gender-rigid.

  22. Keep writing. I can only wish this topic was spoken about 25 years ago. I believe my transgender daughter’s live would have been so different. But instead she was raised as a middle boy in a household of four boys. The advise back then was keep refusing to allow him to do girl stuff. By 2nd grade we had a hateful out of control child. She was 17 the first time he wrote me a letter telling me he was a she. With no known info available I tried to close my eyes to it. About 4 years ago she came out to everyone and now does female full time. I was amazed how fast the rest of the family accepted it. I am so very proud of her. It takes so much courage to step out and be who you really are.

  23. Roxana says:

    I love your blog, please don’t stop writing! I’m a teacher, and once a boy in my class told his classmates that he loved cooking, and they all made fun of him, the same happened when a girl told the whole class that she wanted to learn boxing and all her friends made fun of her. In both situations, I told them the same: ‘Well kids, I’m a woman, but I loved watching Power Rangers when I was your age… Now I grew up, and you can see that I never wear make up, and I hate wearing dresses, but I love football, and it’s ok, we’re all different’. I don’t think it’s a bad thing that boys like trucks and girls like princesses, in fact in most of the classes I’ve taught it’s normal for boys to like one thing, and girls to like another. BUT if there’s 1 kid who loves doing things that the opposite sex usually does, then it’s ok, because we should all be who we want to. My heart goes to your kid, I myself didn’t have many friends when I was little because, as I never liked princesses or Hello Kity stuffs, the girls in my class never wanted to be with me, and the boys were good with me but always kept reminding me ‘but you’re a girl!’. Even today, most of my friends don’t approve the way I dress, my hobbies or anything that looks like male-behavior, but I like being like this. So be strong CJ! People’s critics won’t ever end, not even when you grow up, but you just need to be who you really are, and concentrate on your life and be happy with who you are… Believe me, you won’t be happy wearing and behaving the way others want: you are unique, stay that way!

  24. Thanks for letting us into your lives.

  25. atticcrazy says:

    I love your blog and I hope that our stupid society doesn’t crush C.J.’s wonderful spirit, All of your fans are rooting for C.J.! Hell, we’re rooting for your entire family!
    Thank you again for continuing to share your wonderful, touching story with us. We are all learning from you.

  26. Jesse says:

    Good to hear that you’re going to allow us to follow your journey. You’re stories are inspirational and I appreciate the smiles and tears they have afforded us.

  27. Please continue to rock on! I love your blog. And as challenging as life gets, and will continue to be, you are a fabulous advocate for C.J.

  28. dovesoh says:

    I love reading your blog and writings about C.J and how your family copes. I love the way how your family handle the whole situation and admire the solidarity in love and support you have shown to C.J. it really serves as an inspirational love story from a self sacrificing mother.

    As a mother of 2 children myself, I understAnd the process of bringing up young school going children and the on going peer and society pressure that comes along. Many a times it is whether to conform or teach our children to own their differences and accept that everyone is unique and different in their own ways. It is great that despite the challenges you and your family are facing, you can still write and inspire people around you.

    I hope to continue reading your blogs and I wish you and your family the very best in raising the wonderful kids you have.

  29. Cheryl S. says:

    I’m so glad to see that you decided to continue! I think this is a wonderful blog for any parent. I’ll be here as long as you write!

  30. Nikki Davis says:

    I just wanted to start off by saying Thank you!! I have a CJ of my own names Kaden! He’s almost 6 and the princess of our castle. Since he was 18 months old he has loved all things “girl”! We have many home videos of him dancing in diapers and a pink tutu with a Binkie in his mouth to Lady Gaga! Our whole family embraces his “style” (that’s how we refer to it). We tell him everyone has their own style and his is just super creative! His dad dresses him up in his princess out fits and his little brother bought him make up for Christmas! His military veteran grandpas dance to Michael Jackson and lady gaga with him (or at least try and keep up) Kaden has never known anything but love and support until he went to school! He started at a public school and there were problems. So we transferred him to a private Montessori school since Montessori schools are big on supporting individualism. Well we also have problems there as well. Kaden doesn’t hide who he is or his style but he gets picked on and bullied daily. We’ve had talks with the teachers and school administrators. But it continues. My husband and I are at a loss. We’re scared and heartbroken for our son. I’ve never met another kid with a similar style as kaden’s. I’ve talked to my friends who are gay about it and they tell me “why are you pointing him in the direction of being gay? It’s not an easy life! Don’t you want him to not have to struggle, to just be straight. To that I explain “he’s 5! No sexuality attached to a 5 year old. I buy him what he likes, like I buy Bailey his trucks and dinosaurs. I’m not steering him any direction. I just love and support him.” But lately my husband and I question if we’re doing the right thing? If its safe for kaden that we’ve always accepted it and behaved as if its no big deal. He gets so hurt when the ignorance from school says its not. Anyway, what I wanted to say was: thank you for your blog. It’s a source of support for parents like us who have questions and fears with no one to really relate to. It eases fears and makes us laugh. It strikes a cord in our hearts that’s familiar and gives us a sense of belonging. Thank you!!!!

    • Ally says:

      I absolutely loved this post, especially grandpa dancing to Lady Gaga. The accepting dads and granddads have a special place in my heart. I’m not an expert, I have a pretty gender conforming kid, although he’s not the alpha male type at all. I don’t care if he is gay, straight, bi, trans, I love him entirely. So again, not an expert, but I think one thing I’ve learned from CJ’s mom is sometimes you have to follow your kid’s lead on whether they want to sparkle or blend or when it changes from day to day. They’re just figuring it out as they go along but what builds that strength on dealing with the rest of the world is that love and acceptance they get from their families. Kids can overcome so much if they know you are their rock. CJs got a few in his corner, sounds like your little rainbow does too.

    • Stephen says:

      Im a 27 year old gay man, and I would just like to say you are absolutely doing the right thing. Support and accept your children for who they are regardless of the narrow mindedness of those around you (including your gay friends who should know better). Speaking as a adult who did not have, what one would describe as a normal childhood, I wore a silk smoking jacket and carried a cigarette holder to school in Jr High, I can promise that the love and support and understanding you give your son now, will be the single most important impact on his life. The world is a cruel, vicious place, but that doesnt matter as long as the people at home love and accept you. You are wonderful parents. Never doubt that for an instant.

  31. Ally says:

    As long as you keep writing, I’ll keep following! I’m not the mushy type but have a special place in my heart for your whole family and I hope to keep reading about CJ to see where his path leads. I think it’s going to be awesome and for his brother as well. If they see you deal with it, they will learn how. That’s my new mantra every time i start to worry about the future. I’ll. Deal. With. It. You touch more lives in a positive way than you could possibly know.

  32. Kimberly says:

    Glad to hear you’re continuing for another year! Reading about CJ and your family is very enlightening and often funny. Thanks!

  33. Miriam Joy says:

    Glad to hear you’re carrying on. Your blog has taught me a lot about not leaping to conclusions about gender or how people should dress, and I think as a result I’ve learned to be much more open-minded — just from reading. So thank you. You are educating the world 🙂

  34. antarabesque says:

    I am grateful that you have made the decision to continue blogging for another year. I read your posts religiously (pun intended). Recently someone made the comment about their grandchild’s hairstyle. They had been badgering their son for months to have their 18 month old boy’s hair cut because people were thinking he was a girl and Grandma didn’t want him to become ‘gender confused.’ I almost cried and immediately thought about all the compassionate and sensibly sensitive posts I had read here to guide my response to her. Thank you.
    God’s blessings upon you and your family, particularly CJ. I hope the encouragement and deep desire from some of the responders don’t place added pressure on you to continue to be a blessing to us.

  35. Tommy says:

    Keep up the good work, I always read your blog aloud to my husband. Any time I even get close to the Orange Curtain, I wonder if I’ll run into you and C.J. Thanks for so bravely sharing your lives with us.

  36. Amber says:

    I would love to email you 🙂 our sons are do similar. It’s been a long road is but we have learned so much and still are.

    Take care, Amber

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