Amy Sedlis is raising a “pink boy”, and hopes that one day people will not judge them based on his color and toy choices.
For the first time, when recently at a local toy store purchasing Disney’ Frozen, sadly and wrongly been lambasted as pushing a pro-gay agenda, I wasn’t anxious, in fact, I felt relief. I used to go to toy stores apprehensive knowing my son would dart to Aisle 5 stocked with Disney princesses and Barbie. A bit paranoid, I would look around afraid to see others reactions. Last week, I was selfishly comforted by the cashier who nonchalantly told me how regularly boys opt for “typical” girl toys. Fortunately, he also told me how increasingly, more parents are supportive.
I was sickened over the recent headliner about an Oregon mother found guilty of murdering her 4-year-old son because she “thought he was acting gay”. A Facebook post confirmed that she was “punishing” him for acting gay-whatever that means. This mother deliberately killed her son over something unknown. When I heard this story, I was personally overwhelmed. Change often comes about when famous figures speak out. I, too, have been known to advocate on “controversial” issues. I am proud of this. Today, I lend my voice as a mother. In 2005, I gave birth to a son that loves pink –not the singer P!nk.
No one can deny the power of societal norms and how they greatly influence human behavior. It wasn’t until a friends’ keen insight about my sons interests that she suggested Cherly Kilodavis’ children’s book My Princess Boy. A controversial book on gender identity led me to my own introspective journey, understanding what psychologists refer to as gender nonconforming or gender creative. Simply put, gender non-conforming children do not conform to expected gender-related patterns, and/or identify with the opposite gender. Sadly, girls are labeled tomboys and boys-sissys and fags. Initially, I had mixed feeling about the author sharing images of her son dancing in a dress but in retrospect I understand.
Many think I have “outed” my son. I used to wonder myself. Some accuse me of promoting and contribution to raising a gay or transgender child. Yet, clearly, this is not the case. Gender identify and sexual orientation is not a choice and can not be shaped by a parent’s wishes. Multiple studies have correlated childhood gender non-conformity with eventual gay/bisexual and transgender outcomes. However, the accuracy of these studies has been questioned from within the academic community-and who cares?
I find it somewhat amusing as easy as it is to stereotype, there is an fascination with Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black “ series featuring graphic lesbian sex and a transgender character [played by Mobile native Laverne Cox]. People are intrigued by sex, but something about gay/lesbian seeks seems to pique even more interest. Why is sexuality intrinsically linked to gender- even when it comes to small children? Maybe one day they will be uncoupled.
We have made progress. Think Pink, is a new exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston exploring the history and social impact of the changing meaning of the color pink just opened. The outrage over the 2011 J. Crew ad featuring President and creative director Jenna Lyons painting her sons toenails hot pink is behind us and we have “coped” with a mothers decision to allow her 5-year-old son to attend school as Daphne from Scooby Doo (mind you, it was Halloween).
I often wonder what others think of me and I cannot tell you the number of times I have doubted myself. But what I know is the obvious- parents, first and foremost, must support and unconditionally love their kids. While I raise my two sons, I will also commit myself to follow the lead of other strong activist like mothers Lori Duron (raisingmyrainbow.com) and actress Gena Davis, who was recently in Birmingham, who challenge society’s limiting representation of gender. I will continue to increase and educate others throughout our community, schools and libraries about differences and acceptance in relation to gender. I will advocate for changing abhorrent Alabama polices that do not include gender identify and expression in their nondiscrimination and harassment polices and I will support Representative Patricia Todd’s efforts on same sex marriage. I will convene and lead meaningful conversations with public officials like US Mike Foster, whose recent homophobic remarks have no place.
I hope to eradicate and strike fear and shame even if it means sailing uncharted waters.
I have evolved as a mother and a person. I have conquered my own fears, found coping strategies, but most of all have loved my son since he was born.
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