I hear from a lot of adults raising gender expansive four and five year olds. The adults are typically stressed, confused, lonely and scared. I get it. I’ve been there. Ages four and five were the toughest for us in terms of parenting a gender expansive child. I tell families that it gets better once the child can communicate his/her thoughts and feelings. Like, now, with C.J. being 10 years old and getting ready to start fifth grade, if I have a question about him, I can ask him and he can answer. I asked C.J. what he remembers thinking and feeling when he was four and five years old and I wrote it all down. I’m hoping that sharing C.J.’s memories below might help families currently wondering and/or struggling. xoxo, Lori
(By: C.J., age 10, August 2017)
When I was two years old I kind of liked cars and knights and stuff because that’s all the toys we had. When I got closer to three years old, I started to like pink, purple and princesses. By the time I was four years old, I liked everything girl stuff. I really liked the way girls’ hair and dresses moved.
In preschool and kindergarten, I got the hint that I wasn’t like other boys my age. They would wear superhero stuff and I would wear clothes that were more feminine. I even wore Little Mermaid pajamas on pajama day and a Monster High costume on Halloween.
At that time I don’t think I really cared what other kids thought about me. When you’re in preschool and kindergarten and you’re different, the other kids don’t really care as much. My mom says I used to ask every morning if I was going to get bullied at school, but I don’t remember that. My mom says it’s good to forget stuff sometimes.
Back when I was four and five years old, I used to tell my parents that I wanted to be a girl. I never said I was a girl. I just said I wanted to be a girl. Because then I could like all of the stuff and hobbies and clothes that I liked and nobody would care or give me a hard time about it.
I used to draw myself as a girl. This summer, I went through my drawings from kindergarten and in all of them I had long ponytails and dresses on. It surprised me when I saw that. When I saw those drawings, it made me realize how fast people can forget things they did. I’m going into fifth grade now and that was just back in kindergarten.
I guess I do remember wanting to be a girl if I think about it really hard, but I don’t want to be a girl anymore. I want to be me. Just me. I’m a gender creative boy. I’m a boy who likes girl stuff. I don’t even like calling it girl stuff and boy stuff. There shouldn’t be girl stuff and boy stuff; it’s all just stuff.
Sometimes I don’t feel safe at school and other times I do feel safe. I don’t feel safe at school when I’m in the bathroom or when the fire alarms go off. I also don’t like being alone. I don’t feel safe in the bathroom because the boys just pee everywhere and they aren’t as neat and tidy as the girls. I’m more neat and tidy like the girls. I always go in the stalls, even if I’m going pee. That makes me feel more secure.
I feel like I’m a different type of boy. But I’m a boy for sure. I like both male and female pronouns. I don’t really care which ones people use when they talk about me. I feel like pronouns are no big deal. Pronouns are not important to me, rainbows are important to me. My mom says different things are important to different people.
People who are LGBTQ are important. That’s a fact. People who are different are very important because they are people, but not everybody sees them that way.
My mom and dad used to sometimes think I was transgender – a girl born in a boy’s body. They even thought about letting me transition to being a girl when I was littler. That doesn’t bother me because I know I’d be a boy now.
I don’t think it’s possible that I’m transgender because I really like how I am. I’m happy with myself.
My mom and dad tell me that some parents with kids who are four and five years old are really stressed out because they have gender creative kids and they don’t know what to do. I would tell those parents to just relax and let your kid be who they are. And, let them know that you love them no matter what. That’s what my parents tell me.
If I could talk to myself when I was four years old, I would tell myself “don’t transition, because you are going to like who you are when you’re older. You can like girl stuff without being a girl. You can just be you.”
But if a kid is transgender, their parents need to let their kid decide who they are and follow their kid’s lead. If your kid is transgender, let them transition. Let them be who they are.
Sometimes it’s hard being a transgender kid or gender creative kid because you’ve got to take a lot of time to figure things out.
I think overall parents need to do a lot of relaxing.
This is exactly what we need in the world. Such a well-worded and powerful work. Kudos to you.
Thank you so much for sharing this with us. This is wonderful. I learned from your little one.
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Wow. This is powerful.
This isn’t exactly what I needed. Thanks so much from the proud mama of a five year old sparkle boy
Wow! Amazing this is fantastic CJ, and Lori you are doing a great job raising your son! I think that this is such an important issue in our society today, I think the pressures that we put on sex and the ideologies behind them can push people in harmful ways. I myself created a blog about how masculine ideologies can harm men and society as a whole. Looking at the facts behind suicide and homicide, males make up more the 80% of the death through this method. These are all a result of the masculine pressures that we develop as a young child.
Your son is adorable! Out of curiosity though, does he know there are genders outside of male and female? I’m trans myself, and I know both non binary people and gender non-conforming. Most of the time the gnc ones will care more about pronouns, whereas the non binary ones are usually the ones saying they don’t care. Either way, I’m glad you’re so supportive of him!
Wow, you have an amazing son there. I’m glad he found the courage to tell you about things he saw differently to you and others but still had your love. You’re doing right by your son and that is so refreshing. He is right when he says there shouldn’t be girls stuff and boys stuff as it’s all just stuff and if boys want to play with dolls and dress up like princesses then who are we to judge? We are all people and your son has realised this he is so amazing. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to reading more of his truly insightful thoughts in the future.
This quite great…
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Thank you for sharing such a powerful message in such a creative way. I think it is a nice spin to do it in the mind of your child. If gives us an idea of what he may truly be thinking, while also infusing your thoughts into the mix. Beautifully written!
Wow! This is so powerful and so beautiful ❤️
This is such an important and amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing!
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Wow really insightful and thought-provoking post, it’s good to share these thoughts and feelings to help others communicate the way they want to present themselves – big respect!!❤️
Great post! Also really eye-opening. Especially love how y’all embrace this. Really brave kid, good for you! 🙂
It was wonderful what is going around in a child’s mind and he gives such balanced and sound advice really insightful post
I thing this is such an amazing message for parents and kids
This really is lovely. What a lucky kid to have such a parent.
What a beautiful post! 👏🏼💕 As I bring my own child into this world, I am so pleased that together, we are letting children be who they want to be. It doesn’t matter if they like to dress up a little differently or do things that aren’t what everyone else is doing, what matters is their happiness. It matters that they grown up being comfortable in their own skin and proud of who they are. Thank you for this post 😊
This is very inspiring, as a gender non-binary myself. It is pleasant to se that it was not just I who experienced femininity more than masculinity. I have however, only recently started rejecting gender pronouns.
Such a wonderful post, thanks for sharing. I spent many years of my childhood going through similar experiences to CJ (but in reverse, of course) and now that I’m in my twenties I couldn’t be more relieved that my parents encouraged me to be myself without going ahead with any transitions. I’m definitely female and happy as a young woman, but those ‘gender creative’ years were so profound for me and served their purpose at the time. Children with these experiences are likely to face bullying or stressful reactions, but just being loved and knowing there is always time later to make those decisions was the best thing for me in the end. Lovely to read, thanks again.
It’s good to see people braving themselves up to write about such issues. Time is changing and so do people. Hopefully it will change more and people will be able to respect any gender regardless of there differences. Till then I feel we have people like you all over the world 🙂 to keep humanity at its best. 🙂
For the parent who posted this, you are one special parent. I can sense from CJ’s writing that his sense of the world is rock steady, and I attribute that to you. I have gender creative friends and transgender friends who are finding that now really, because their parents either could not relax early on enough or never did (and no judgement). But I commend you…. 🙂 🙂
To CJ, you are a great writer and i really enjoyed your piece. If I had a young child I would share your piece so when they friend other gender creative children in school, they are already familiar.
Keep sharing and keep writing, I loved hearing what you had to say. 🙂
I love this. How about that… letting your child just be themselves.. !
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I cried while reading this
I thought of my parents while reading this
will they accept me for who i am ? who i truly am?
or will i be abandoned ?
I so wish every person on this planet could think like you do. Let people be. How very simple is that! And yet, so many of us complicate life, for themselves and for others.Mostly, for others.
I love this it is as your child says just stuff. X
Hi Lori & Matt,
Im Dawn a 43 trans lady.
Iv read a number of your blogs, I want to say i think you two are wonderful parents and people. With you two by his side i don’t think you will have to worry about him folling in to the statistic like so many of us have gone throw because that is the resolt of not having a support system and gone throw everything on are own. I think CJ is a wonderful young man and he will growup to be a great person in this world!!!
War’s are not won throw a great battle but the little one’s day by day !!!
BY FOR NOW
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Great Post!!! Thank you for your openness to educate on this very questioning topic. Your wisdom is above your years and look forward to hearing you grow!
We desperately need THIS wisdom. Thank you for being parents that brought this beautiful human being to share this message with our country at such an important time. CJ, keep writing. You have a gift.
YOU, being YOU, is making a powerful mark in the world 🙂
I love this! And I love how he advises parents to relax. Everything will be okay. And it just stresses out the kids too. Also I laugh at girls being tidier and cleaner in the bathroom. Ahahahahahaha. That’s cute but no 😂 the horrors I witness in the girls’ bathrooms all the time…
I really like the fact that you are being yourself. So sweet. But I also hope that you are trying to understand why people are not like you so that you don’t get into the trap of reverse gender manipulation zone. Be happy. I really really genuinely wish that. Good bye.
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These simple words from a kid.. wonderful!
Most of the adults cannot understand this their whole life but a lad, 10 years old could explain it very well
This really opened my mind. The honestly is amazing thank you for posting
He is wise beyond his years! Amazing. Simply amazing ❤
Such an insightful kid. Love him. Hope to learn more about his thought process. Just beautiful. 🙂
This is so beautiful, i still hear stories from my 20 or so year old friends still saying their parents won’t accept who they are, and for you to accept and support your sons choices from such a young age is so refreshing to see. Love it!
What a beautiful, loving and supportive post – and parents you are! May your openness and acceptance – of your “gender creative” son, expressing himself in any ways that feel authentic to him – reverb on a much wider scale.. then, surely this world would be a happier and safer place for all. Blessings and light.
I absolutely love this! My cousin is transgendered and our family doesn’t accept him, except for me. I can see the pain and frustration that he goes through and I’m so glad you’re supportive! Thanks for sharing ☺
An important passage from this chapter for the parents – don’t force/ enable your kids to transition too early. A very smart comment.
As a mother who believes in gender equality and trying to raise her daughter the most gender neutral way as possible, I find this post very empowering. Children are born uniquely beautiful, we need to help them grow as who they are, not who they should or shouldn’t be according to the society. Love this post so much! Thank you for sharing. 💗
I love this! I’m a manager of a nursery and promote children playing with what they like. Also I love the children to explore in their own way when the dressing up comes out. Really great post!!
I love this! I have tried to raise my children without labeling things as for girls and for boys. I do get some comments from my relatives, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to change that. I would like to go back in time and see who decided to genderize things. Great post! CJ, be proud of who you are!
CJ, you could be speaking as one of two of my boys who are both gender creative. Their big brother was all what you think of as a ‘typical’ boy, which is not really typical at all – he just fit into what everyone expected. So it was a surprise when his brother came along, wanted to wear pretty things, loved glitter and colour and sparkle and was teased. He’s 18 now and an artist. He loved beauty and now he makes beautiful things. And we also have a ten year old. He used a whole range of girls names to describe himself when he was little. He’d wear wigs and pyjama bottoms on his head so he could feel what it was like to have long hair. He said he’d like to be a girl when he grew up, but now, like you, he’s pretty happy to be a boy. But he gets fed up when people tease him for not liking sport or being ‘boyish’. Thing is, he’s just fine as he is. Like you, a clever kid who knows his own mind and does his own thing. And the world needs clever people with imagination, courage and the capacity to be who they are and not what others expect them to be. Those kinds of people are more accepting of others and of difference. They are more creative. They think outside of the box. And I think hope lives in them and spreads itself around. So thank you. Be you. My boys have brought great joy into our family and I can tell that you’ve done the same in yours. And I’m really glad I’ve been able to share your blog with my boys too.
That’s a very nice post! Awareness is important! Parents should understand kids
Such a heart warming story. ❤️
Wonderful! I wish I’d had more of your confidence when mine was younger. I got a lot of pressure from the mommy mafia about what was ok and what wasn’t ok to let your kid do. My kid is 22 now and utterly splendid, but I should have bought him the pink pegasus sandals, darn it.
My daughter has a non-traditional haircut, and gets mistaken for a boy a lot. She knows she has the option to grow her hair out if she wants or to wear headbands or something. But recently she told me that she is comfortable with it now, and that she’s a boy and a girl. I’m letting her have the freedom to explore that, because she’s 10, and she’s very much trying to discover herself.
CJ is a wonderful kid… Giving such an effective and overwhelming advice at this age is huge.. He would grow up to be a very decent and honest person.. You are lucky to have such a great kid! 😊
CJ is absolutely amazing no doubt about it. He seems to have confidence levels similar if not higher than people multiple years and even decades his senior!
Everything he had to say was so wise! I’m twice his age and have trouble communicating that effectively sometimes.
Such a wonderful kid:)
Wow! I wish I could be more like your son! Honestly!
I have a girl who likes “boy” stuff — welding and martial arts and engineering . . . and she’s the most creative, amazing person I know. And, at 19, she loves who she is! I love this post. Thank
What a wonderful piece. Parents like you are the ones who can make our world a better place. Absolutely love how CJ has been brought up and his voice is a true representation of anyone who is different. And being being different doesn’t mean anyone is less human. We are all one womankind 🙂
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I am not a parent but have worked with children and young people my entire life. Not just my adult life, I mean I was the nanny in college and the babysitter when I was 12, Aunt Kelly was a title I earned at 9, I was a Big with BBBS in college, I ran a community center in a public housing project in grad school, and I now work in the foster care system… kids have it hard and so do parents. CJ warmed my heart with his words, and imagining the parents he has to feel so safe in his expression made my heart grow three sizes. Thank you.
I agree with CJ that parents need to relax more, and I think this is true for parents of all sorts of kids, especially those whose kids have extra challenges, be that gender creativity or anything else. (My son has Aspergers Syndrome. I wouldn’t describe him as gender creative, but he does think that societies obsession with gender is illogical and he definitely dresses to suit himself, not what’s in fashion, including taking great delight in wearing a kilt, as far as I can tell in part to provoke reactions from people who think boys shouldn’t wear “skirts”)
Toys R Us has eliminated gender profiling in their store layout designs. Perhaps the clothing stores will follow suit. Maybe a note to Target?
I recently experienced a surprising development with my gender creative son. He had always been mildly gender creative and somewhat withdrawn. But this year his confidence really bloomed and as a result he became more assertive and open with his gender expression. It was at the point where I figured I would have to start explaining things to his teachers and relatives.
Then in the late summer I was having an unrelated conversation with his older brother, reasserting the rule that we don’t use the expression “that’s gay”. (Which he had not and was rather offended at the implication that he might ever.) Suddenly my pink haired, barrette wearing boy piped up and asked “what is a gay person?”
So I explained and before the words were all out of my mouth he said “Oh! That’s what I am. I’m gay.”
We talked a little more about it, much to his older brother’s mortification, and he hasn’t brought it up again in the weeks since. What’s interesting is that his gender bending has ceased full stop. It’s as if by identifying he settled into a new understanding of himself. Maybe he will go back to wanting those things or maybe the impulse towards it is gone, subsumed by whatever his 8 year old understanding of gayness may be.
Obviously different from C.J. but another rainbow’s journey.
Lol of course once I posted this not 3 hours later he announced he wants to be the first male member of Glitter Force so…
Thank you for being one of the best examples of parenting I’ve gotten to witness.
Please tell CJ he’s one of me heroes. He’s brave, faces his fears, and lives who he is, not what society tries to tell him he has to be. My favorite quote from this is, “It’s not girl stuff or boy stuff, it’s just stuff!”
BTW I’m 54 and have spent my life standing up for the right of everyone to be WHO they are, not what others think they should be. I’ve lost friends to the hate that ended their lives and have decided no more will lose to the hate.
Prayers and blessings on CJ, you, your husband and CJ’s brother.
I shared this with my almost 10 year old gender creative son and he said “that sounds a lot like me! I want to be C.J.’s friend. Can you text her and see if we could play?” Thank you for sharing. I know my own son is going to sleep happier tonight knowing there’s someone else out in world like him.
Are you sure you’re only 10 CJ.?
“There shouldn’t be girl stuff and boy stuff; it’s all just stuff.”
That’s what I always tell my daughter (who is 5 now) too, ever since she came home saying that “pink is for girls and blue and green are for boys”, I said everyone could pick their own favourite colour. And she does prefer pink, but I wouldn’t want her to judge other girls (like her cousin) who prefer blue or boys who prefer pink. Or find out some day that dinosaurs or pirates or other things she likes besides princesses and ballet are “for boys”.
What an amazingly beautiful way of looking at who we are as human beings. Devision is just an illusion and I’m so glad you are part of this world. Keep being you!
Great message CJ! Be who you are.
I don’t have a gender creative child but I think what you said rings true for all parents. We all stress out about who our kids are. We all need to do a whole lot more relaxing.
Thank you for being so wise. 😊
Parent of 11 yr old girl going into 6th grade
This post has me in tears. I took my 7 year old gender creative son shopping for school clothes today, and he picked put 2 skirts with cute tops, all from the girls department. He’s worn girl shirts before, and he gets teased. He really wants to wear the skirts, but he doesn’t want to have to explain who he is and get questioned when he uses the bathroom, and I’m terrified for him. He asked on the way home if my friend who’s MTF takes medicine so she does not grow a beard, and if those pills could also help in changing someones voice. He doesn’t know if he wants to be a girl, but he knows life would be easier if he had been born with a girls body. The amount of hate happening in this country right now has me terrified for him….It’s hard to just relax when your heart is out there walking around, with a big target on him. I hope he’s as strong as CJ is, because I know I’m not nearly as strong as Lori.
I think this is awesome. I’d love to hear how your perspective continues to change over the years. And your brother too if he is willing share
It’s True: “Out of the mouth of babes come words of wisdom”. CJ is living proof of that.
It’s a darn shame that old curmudgeons wind up being – “in charge”. They make some pretty dumb statements; like: Transgendered people will not be allowed to serve in the military.
And then, it is so, simply because they are “in charge”. They give some “trumped-up” reasons as to why it should be so. Old Curmudgeons do that – make up solutions in search of a (non-existent) problem. Kids don’t do that.
I believe that kids should be “in charge”, and all old curmudgeons (like myself) should be retired , and take advantage of that “second childhood” by hanging out at the beach (but my business partner won’t allow that – he’s “in charge”).
I think they way to make all the anxieties and stress (at least about what clothes to wear today) is to find a way to alter people’s expectation of gender expression in our children. Binary gender/sex thinking for females is so uncool! It needs to be so uncool for males as well!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This is amazing and I’m sharing it widely.
Always stand up for what u believe and what you like about YOURSELF
Thank you so much CJ for your thoughtful and inspiring words! My son is 4 and 1/2 years old and for some time now has expressed a strong preference for wearing dresses and/or tutus. As I am sure your parents feel about you, to my wife and I he is just the coolest little guy ever. Recently he has been very clear that he is a boy and he, like you, knows himself the best. So with your sage advice we will relax, follow our son’s lead, and enjoy what lies ahead.
Reblogged this on veg*ism, nickified and commented:
This is probably far different from what I expected to post here, but I love this too much to care. I hope you enjoy the read, too. ❤
Reblogged this on Daddy Coping in Style and commented:
May all of our kids be this self-aware and expressive when they are 10 years old.
Love this! My 6 year old son sounds EXACTLY like CJ. I will try to relax more, thanks for the great advice!
What wonderful words!
this has always been my favorite blog.
CJ is so much more insightful than so many people. Including (cough, cough) our “president.”
“You can just be you. ” If only all of us would live by that! We would be so much at peace with ourselves.
Wisdom from the mouths of babes…
I’m blown away by CJ’s maturity. Great advice!
Excellently put CJ
Awesome thoughts, CJ. If we could all just get that across to adults we’d all be better off in alot of ways! Thanks for telling your truth!
Possibly one of the best quotes ever: ” I think overall parents need to do a lot of relaxing.”.
Dawn, I agree completely. A wonderful quote.
CJ has this amazing wisdom in his young body that I am in awe of. I can’t wait to see what CJ does as he grows to adulthood, because he’s such a powerful example of what happens when gender creative kids are supported, and he is already so eloquent about the way society needs to change its own perceptions. He gives me hope for the future in a time that is so challenging for us and our LGBTQ kids.
Both boys, Chase and CJ are strong examples, of what being supported as a child can do.
Wow! You’re awesome CJ!
As a PFLAG Mama, I always enjoy your posts. I do wish, however, WordPress would consider the advertising included in the post. An ad for a Chinese dating site is inappropriate and smacks of trafficking.
Sorry about the ad. I’ve checked in to it and complained before. And the same ad doesn’t appear for all viewers. I get served one that is much more appropriate.
CJ is wise beyond his years !!! He is giving the best advice I think I have ever heard.
This is absolutely powerful! Thank you!
“I think overall parents need to do a lot of relaxing.” I love this, and I think you could change “parents” to “people” and it would probably make the whole world a better place 😉 Wise beyond his years.
Wonderful post. I do think that the sooner we get rid of what constitutes female colours/clothes/hobbies and just have colours/clothes/hobbies (even if we call them femiNINE/masculINE) — well the sooner the better. I frequently shop with my 9yo for clothes from the ‘girls” rail. Last purchase a pink unicorn jumper. Why do shops persist with the girl/Boy distinction
I think shops continue with the boy/girl distinction because naturally…there are boys and girls. I would hate to go to a store and look through boys and girls stuff, when I know I’m there to buy stuff for my 3 year old boy.