Today’s visitors to nytimes.com will notice an upcoming NYT Magazine piece called, “What’s So Bad About a Boy Who Wants to Wear a Dress?” Written by Ruth Padawer, my gut feeling is that this one is going to hit the top of NYT’s ‘Most Emailed’ list, dealing as it does with the sensitive subject of young boys who are gender-fluid–that is, not identifying along the gender binary as being either a boy or a girl. (One comment in particular from a user going by the name of gail desautels, and recommended by 9 people, suggests the height of sensitivity we can expect in conversations spurred by this article: “maybe he could become a Muslim…then he can wear a dress and pants at the same time :)”.) I and other bloggers like Emily Breitkopf talk a lot about gender here on The LAMPpost, as cultural normatives and gender stereotypes are so frequently set and reinforced by the media.
Padawer aptly documents the trials and tribulations of gender-fluid boys, as well as their parents and caregivers. Perhaps in the interest of maintaining a tight focus on a huge topic, the piece almost exclusively discusses boys, but when it does discuss girls as tomboys, it’s pretty dismissive, saying “girls gain status by moving into the ‘boy’ space”. And sure, it cites a couple of studies about the number of adult women who say they were tomboys, but that doesn’t mean young girls who like to play with trucks and footballs have an easy time of it. In the interest of offering a tomboy perspective, and in the interest of adding our own LAMP student voices to the current dialogue on gender stereotypes, I want to highlight one of The LAMP’s most viewed, award-winning videos made by fifth-graders in Brooklyn, called “Fading Away from the Stereotypes.”