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.