Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2017-10-18
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

BOOKS Psychologist writes about 'gender creative' children
by Liz Baudler
2016-06-22

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Psychologist Diane Ehrensaft can point to many inspirations for her work with gender creative children. Born in the 1940s, Ehrensaft was a tomboy who chafed at rigid gender roles and remembered feeling "schizophrenic" about aspects of her identity in high school. As a college psychology major, she discovered the woman's movement. Much of her early research was on gender equity: did preschool teachers treat boys and girls the same? Could dads raise children as well as mothers?

Her interest in gender changed and deepened when she became a parent.

"I had a little boy who loved tutus, so it was like trial by fire," said Ehrensaft, now the author of many books on gender, including 2016's The Gender Creative Child. "My experience as parent made me very dedicated to both learning more and being an advocate for kids who go against the gender grain. And I've been doing it ever since."

Ehrensaft sees her field exploding as of late. "I'm turning 70 and it feels like a woman's work is never done," she said. "I'm learning from the little kids, because they're the ones who are going to be the revolutionaries here. They're going to carry that torch. They already are."

From a child Ehrensaft met who wanted to be called "rainbow kid" to the others who describe themselves as "boy-girls" and even "Priuses" and "Teslas," Ehrensaft is astounded at the overall creativity of gender-creative children. "I've never met a group of kids who are just so expansive about life," she said. "When they stop being expansive is when people tell them, 'you can't be who you are', and then they close down. And what I'm very happy to see is when you remove those pressures, then they blossom."

The concept of trans and genderqueer are understandable for even the youngest of kids, even if the language isn't standard yet, but Ehrensaft sees that changing. "Because it's in the culture now, kids are picking up the language at a really early age," she noted.

This movement towards accepts delights Ehrensaft. "I think that all children should be exposed at a very young age to every kind of diversity," she told Windy City Times. "And they're not exposed enough to gender diversity. We are better about having racial diversity, all kinds of people can build families, gay people, straight people, people in between, and I think we have to be thinking about people all come in all kinds of genders."

She said there are lots of different ways to achieve that goal, whether children see books about gender-creative kids or simply see acceptance of gender identities and differences around them. Ehrensaft has recommended that parents, teachers and community members listen to child when they express thoughts about their gender identity.

"It's not for us to tell, but for the children to say who they are around their gender. If we impose our dreams on them rather than listen to theirs, we will collapse gender health," she said.

Ehrensaft also pointed out that mirroring, or how we react to others in social situations, can be both helpful and harmful when it comes to gender. "We need to think about our mirroring in terms of promoting acceptance for all kids, for people of all genders," she said. "If you give back a distorted mirror or a blank, like they can't find themselves at all, that is what I call at least a microaggression. At its worst it can be a trauma. If you flip that, the most positive thing we can do for gender-creative people of all ages is make sure you mirror back who they know themselves to be, rather than who you want them to be."

While there has been a shift around acceptance of gender identity, there has been a notable backlash, with anti-trans laws popping up around the country.

"It's instilled in the culture that you have to be able to locate somebody around their gender, you have to be able to do it early, and anything else makes us anxious. Due to the feminist movement, due to the LGBT movement, due to civil rights before that in the '50s, we've cracked that open," Ehrensaft explained. "Gender is no longer bedrock, it's moving boulders. And when you have moving boulders, people can get really anxious trying to traverse them. So they retreat. And they call on their religion, their belief systems and they get stuck there. But I will say that I have seen so many parents move beyond that, when they discover their own child is one of those people."

Ehrensaft finds the high rate of homeless among LGBTQ youth and attempted suicide among trans individuals often makes parents rethink their lack of acceptance. "Either they're going to let love win out, or they can let their principles smother that and reject the child," she said. "When you try to stop people from being who they are, that's when they become suicidal. And if you teach them pride, and give them acceptance, then they can really avoid many of those risk factors."

Beyond individuals, she sees gender acceptance fomenting good for the world. "Remember, children are taught to hate. It's not innate," Ehrensaft pointed out. "The more you promote gender creativity, you have a whole group of kids and adults who breathe easier, a much healthier, stronger group of people who will eventually feel more confident, empowered and determined to demand rights. And, you'll let other kids and adults go, 'oh, what about me? Let's open it up for me too.'"

"I feel that gender exploration is a positive thing for everyone to do," Ehrensaft concluded. "It makes, I think, for a much more exciting terrain of development. In my own value, flexibility is much better than rigidity, and gender creativity creates flexibility in our thinking, feeling, and our actions, and creates a more socially just world. And I think socially unjust worlds, whatever your politics, come from a collapse of creativity, and a retreat to rigidity."


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

GUEST COLUMN Fighting transphobia 2017-10-18 - A lot of people believe that being completely open with your significant other is an important part of any relationship, but to what ...


Gay News

GLAD and NCLR Call Out Trump Administration For Transgender Military Ban 2017-10-18 - Former Top Military Leaders File Powerful Statements of Support, As 15 State Attorneys General, National Advocacy Groups, and Leading Health Care Organizations Join ...


Gay News

National roundup: Stonewall, intersex case, Caitlyn Jenner, Kamala Harris 2017-10-17 - The Trump administration ( and the National Park Service ) withdrew support for a ceremony at Stonewall National Monument that involved the dedication ...


Gay News

BOOK REVIEW 'You're in the Wrong Bathroom!' And 20 Other Myths... 2017-10-17 - By Laura Erickson-Schroth, MD and Laura A. Jacobs, LCSW-R $16; Beacon Press; 182 pages In 2017, a book about ...


Gay News

BOOKS New collection shows spectrum of LGBTQ talent 2017-10-17 - When Kathleen Archambeau started planning out the collection of profiles that would become Pride and Joy: LGBTQ Artists, Icons, and Everyday Heroes, she ...


Gay News

Attny Gen Madigan files brief opposing ban on transgender military service 2017-10-16 - Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan, along with 14 other attorneys general, filed an amicus brief opposing the federal administration's plans to ban ...


Gay News

Justice Dept. steps in trans murder case 2017-10-16 - In an unusual move that Attorney General Jeff Sessions initiated, the Justice Department has dispatched an experienced federal hate-crimes lawyer to Iowa to ...


Gay News

Calif. Gov. signs non-binary gender ID bill 2017-10-16 - Sacramento—California Governor Jerry Brown on Sunday signed into law a bill making it easier to change gender markers on state-issued identification documents and ...


Gay News

After removing trans protection, Sessions seeks credit for DoJ work on hate crime 2017-10-15 - Lambda Legal Calls out Sessions' Hypocrisy as He Touts DOJ Assistance in Iowa Hate Crimes Case "For Sessions to seek credit for ...


Gay News

Trans Teen Who Died By Suicide Protected By Federal Law, Federal Court Rules 2017-10-13 - ( San Diego, CA, October 13, 2017 )—Yesterday, the National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) and Transgender Law Center ( TLC ...


 



Copyright © 2017 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.