Halloween trick-or-treating peanut, Berkeley, CA (2010).
Visual coda to yesterday’s post, in which I mentioned our boy’s Halloween costume choice of last year. I wrote a few words about it at the time, here. If I were to have to guess now, I’d say there’ll be a long gap ’til the next such outfit makes a Halloween appearance, though of course I could be wrong. In the intervening year, his haberdashery pace car has shifted from Big Sister to Main Boy Chum at Preschool. For all the complex reasons that are behind such evolving self-understandings. Advancing years, increased exposure to peer groups, push of culture, pull of self, survival instinct; you name it.
The costume above met a glowing reception throughout the neighborhood last year, though, and not just because there were blinky red lights underneath the tulle (yes there were). I mean, really. The kid looks better in that outfit than I ever could. Also? At least the grown-ups in our neighborhood love kids unconditionally and clearly share our conviction that the best thing we can do for them is clear the runway ahead and help them take flight.
Re: clearing the runway and helping kids take flight (into a world they’re in the process of making) – below, I’ve collected a smattering of nifty resources by and for parents of gender nonconforming kids. Halloween’s pretty much the primo occasion for this, since it’s the one day of the year kids have a wide(r) berth to explore performing different identities.
Here’s one of my favorite blogs on one family’s journey, genderwise: Labels are for Jars. After you check out her extremely thoughtful posts, you can go on to check out the blogs on her blogroll. Sarah Hoffman writes about her “pink boy.” Like so many (mostly mothers, but some fathers, Accepting Dad a stellar voice among them) writing about nonconforming boy kids, also has amassed a great list of valuable resources and done a lot of work at her kid’s school, which she’s written about. She’s got a book in the works, and if blog is prologue, we can expect it to be very good. Transparenthood, also very thoughtful, explores parenting a boy child born in a girl body; Sam’s now 15.
Like Sarah Hoffman, Cheryl Kilodavis, author of My Princess Boy, has done an enormous amount of consciousness- and awareness-raising, after she did some on herself as her son began to follow his own path. I met and interviewed her last February when she was on book tour locally, but had just become job-smacked and had to put the interview in the can, where several other notable ones are moldering. (Ordinary people have backlogged scrapbook and family photo album projects; bloggers have backlogged blog posts.) The succinct thing I can share from that chat with her is that she is enormously sincere, very very smart and open, learning all the time, and evangelical about spreading understanding among parents like her who were previously totally unprepared for nonconformity like this in her child. Check out her Acceptance Groups page.
No post on kids in gender nonconforming Halloween outfits would be complete without reference to Nerdy Apple Bottom, who blew the top off this topic last year when she posted about her son’s Daphne outfit and its reception at his (then) school. And yes: comment count on that post is accurately reflected at over 47,000. So not kidding about the “blew the top off”; the Today Show had her on as a result. Sarah (the blog’s author) is a phenomenal person, as I can attest now after having had the pleasure of meeting her last August in San Diego. This year she’s done a photo project, Just B, in which she’s taken portraits of her kids and their friends having a nondenominational blast with a box of costumes. (Whole series here.)
As to organizations, Gender Spectrum is the best one I know of, founded by (who else) a loving mother of a gender nonconforming child. Said mother, Stephanie Brill, just happened to be a midwife / educator / author of two books about conception, childbirth, and queer parenting, so she hit the ground running, as a perusal of Gender Spectrum’s resources will make clear. Their page Understanding Gender is a great first stop for folks, and her book The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals, cowritten with author/educator Rachel Pepper, is top-notch and one-of-a-kind.
Collecting this list of online resources has made it evident to me: parents (mostly mothers) are becoming transformed and expanded by their kids, and are turning around and working to transform and expand the world so it can fit them. Which I consider a pretty neat trick.