With the disproportionate emphasis on acceptance of transgender folks comes a secondary problem that few might see, but for this mother’s explanation of her daughter’s choices.
“I just wanted to check,” the teacher said. “Your child wants to be called a boy, right? Or is she a boy that wants to be called a girl? Which is it again?”
I cocked my head. I am used to correcting strangers, who mistake my 7-year-old daughter for a boy 100 percent of the time.
In fact, I love correcting them, making them reconsider their perceptions of what a girl looks like. But my daughter had been attending the after-school program where this woman taught for six months.
“She’s a girl,” I said. The woman looked unconvinced. “Really. She’s a girl, and you can refer to her as a girl.”
Consider the scope of this shift in social norms where a mother of a girl is constrained to persuade a teacher that “really, she’s a girl.” Teacher? Pediatrician too.
My daughter wears track pants and T-shirts. She has shaggy short hair (the look she requested from the hairdresser was “Luke Skywalker in Episode IV”). Most, but not all, of her friends are boys. She is sporty and strong, incredibly sweet, and a girl.
And yet she is asked by the pediatrician, by her teachers, by people who have known her for many years, if she feels like, or wants to be called, or wants to be, a boy.
What causes her ped to hear the hoof beats and assume it’s a zebra? It may be fear of being tarred as a transphobe, so all the progressive mommies will keep their darlings away lest the disease be contagious. Or maybe to be the coolest ped at the doc cocktail parties, since the chance of any of them having a transgender patient is slim.
Transgender advocates should be kvelling because of this story. They did it. They normalized transgenders to the point that a girl with short hair presumptively wants to be a boy. The only thing it cost was the default presumption that a girl with short hair just wants to be a girl with short hair.
Lisa Selin Davis is fine with this.* How other mothers feel isn’t known. How girls feel about it isn’t known either, though everybody around them seems dying to be supportive.
Let’s be clear: If my daughter does begin to feel that the gender in her mind and the sex of her body don’t match, I will be supportive. I will research puberty blockers and hormones (more than I already have). I will listen to her and make decisions accordingly, just as I did when she turned 3 and asked for a tie and a button-down shirt.
Let’s hope Davis’ daughter never has a moment of doubt or weakness, or she won’t stand a chance.