donut holes, not gender roles // part II
Need to catch up? Read part I HERE…
The World Health Organization defines gender as the following:
…the socially constructed characteristics of women and men, such as norms, roles, and relationships of and between groups of women and men. It varies from society to society and can be changed.
It is that first part, the socially constructed characteristics, that I am witnessing Bear be confronted with on a day to day basis recently.
To be honest, I haven’t thought much about socially accepted gender norms. I mean, as a woman, I have thought about and been confronted with what the world sees as beautiful and the US standard of beauty, but that is different than what our society has defined as “normal” in regard to gender. Not being confronted with societies definition of gender norms, is a privilege I didn’t realize I had, until now.
Since cutting her hair and picking out her clothes, Bear has been yelled at by strangers, told she is ugly by peers, teased, asked rude questions about her sexuality (yes, at 10, people think it is okay to ask a child this), been treated differently by her social group, just to name a few.
Since cutting her hair and picking out her clothes, I have been asked repeatedly, “what’s going on with Bear?”, if and why she was transitioning, if she was gay, how would I feel about her being gay, why she wants to be a boy, if I like what she is doing, oh and my favorite, statements from strangers “she could be so cute if she just…”
Now, I must preface that these statements and inquiries are all from people outside of my small inner circle of friends where open conversations about things like this are ok. However, even within those circles, it became quite the topic of conversation, in a way that surprised me. It was occurring so much in fact, that I had to thank a friend who didn’t react at all. I remember saying, “You know what, by the way, I need to thank you for being one of the only people to not make something out of Bear’s new style choices.”
Flash back to the McDonald’s bathroom incident...
“Why does this keep happening! Why does everyone even care what I wear or how I wear my hair!” The tears, hot with anger, stream down from her big, brown eyes and I can feel her little heart beat hard and angrily.
I can feel her anger.
I can see her frustration.
As a mother, and as an empathetic human, this is hard to watch and I can feel my face getting red and my chest tightening.
I want to fix it.
I want to make it go away, but I can’t. We never can as parents.
I do what I know best to do, what I would want other people to do for me, I sit with her, hold her hand, hug her deeply, listen intently, and let her know to the best of my ability that even though I can’t take her pain away, she is not alone in it...then when she isn’t looking, I get to work…
To be continued…
Note: Bear has read and consented to the above story.