Okay, so one day I asked my 6-year-old what she wanted to be when she grows up and she responded, “I want to be a princess.”
And I thought, Hmm!!! she’s read so many fairy-tale books, now it’s time to read something different something to let her know that life is not all about fairy tales and girls don’t have to sit around waiting for some prince charming to come and rescue them.
So, I decided to get “The Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls” for her to read, because the women in the stories were creative, intelligent, ambitious and powerful – and none of them needed rescuing by a prince. I wanted her to be inspired by the stories of 100 great women, from Elizabeth I to Serena Williams.
She’s been enjoying reading the book and learning about the women who challenged gender stereotypes and aimed high in their career goals.
Then last night she read about he story of Coy Mathis, born a boy but he loved dresses, the colour pink and shiny shoes. He didn’t like wearing boys’ clothes and asked his parents to address him as “she.”
One night, he asked his mum, “when are we going to the doctor to have me fixed into a girl-girl?”
So, they went to the doctor and the doctor explains what it means to be a transgender. His parents were told to hold off on decision-making and to simply express support for Coy and his choices, follow his lead and see where it might take them. From then on, his parents asked everyone to treat him as a girl. They dressed him up as a girl to school and everything was fine until one day the parents were told that Coy could no longer use the girls’ bathroom.
Unlike kids in Kindergarten, who had a gender-neutral bathroom in their classroom, first-graders used the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms down the hall. They said (s)he could either use the boys’ bathroom or the bathroom for disabled children.
Coy wasn’t pleased and his parents went to court and the judge ruled that Coy should be allowed to use whichever bathroom (s)he wants. To celebrate Coy’s parents threw a big party, they ate pink cake and Coy wore a sparkly pink dress and beautiful pink shoes.
After reading that, she said, “mummy can I ask you some questions?”
Me, confused, because I knew want she was going to ask and wondering how that made it into the book of 100 great women to inspire girls. So i said, it’s way past your bedtime now, you can ask your questions tomorrow? I wasn’t ready to have that LGBT talk and i wondered why the story was in there.
Next morning while getting ready for work, she woke up and the first thing she asked was;
Her: Mummy, how can Coy be a boy and a girl? How come he likes to wear dresses, loves the colour pink and shiny shoes?
Me : Pink is just a colour, anybody can like the colour pink. Anybody can like shiny shoes, that’s not just for girls.
Her: okay, How can Coy be a girl and a boy? What is a transgender? How can someone be a transgender?
I paused for a second.
Me: Okay, so you guys will have pasta for lunch? (trying to dodge the question talking about something else)
Her: Mummy you are not answering my question.
Me: Okay, I’m running late for work, when I get back I will answer your question.
Her: Should I google the meaning?
Me: No, please don’t. I’ll tell you when I get back. (happy that I had confiscated her tablet the day before, because she was naughty, so there was no way she would go to google). Parenting is hard nowadays sha, our parents had it easy with us, they didn’t have to think about issues like this or worry about us getting information from google.
The truth is, I didn’t think i was ready or if it was appropriate to have the LGBT conversation with her yet. I, myself am still a bit confused about this whole issue; I don’t know if its normal or if it’s not normal; and no, this is not coming from the place that I hate them, because I don’t.
She did remember when I got home that I hadn’t answered her question and I said to her there are some things that you would not be able to understand now but as you grow older you will begin to understand these things. Just know that Coy was born a boy but he is now a girl. And like the book says. there are some boys who feel female and girls who feel male. They’re called transgender.
And that’s where i stopped.
I don’t know the appropriate age to have the discussion with kids. I don’t want her waking up one morning and say that she wants to be a boy and at the same time, I don’t want her to be judgemental or hate the LGBT’s that she will come across. I want her to know that LGBT’s are not hurting other people so they should be allowed to live their lives. I don’t want her to cringe when she sees two same sex couples kissing.
I know that very soon (it maybe tomorrow), I will have that conversation with her because we can’t avoid these things as there is information everywhere.
But when is the right age to have this conversation? Overall, the book is still a good book to get for your little girls to inspire them.