Why Pink Boys?

On our first day with our then ten-month old Gerald, we didn’t know to be alarmed that he couldn’t hold his head up.  We didn’t know we were supposed to worry when at two we still had to surround our seated toddler with pillows in case he tipped over.  It didn’t occur to us to be too very concerned when at five he constantly squeezed his eyes shut.  However, when his interest in all things pink and beautiful didn’t cease when he turned six, per the prediction of a local therapist, we knew our world was about to be rocked.   Why?

I suppose, in retrospect, we expected some developmental delays.  They made sense in the context of his background, and I didn’t persist when the pediatrician chalked the blinking eyes up to allergies–even when the Claritin didn’t help.  Even later when Gerald was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, I remember tremendous heartache, but as we explained the syndrome to family, friends and teachers, it gradually seemed manageable.  In fact, even now I can usually stop the demanding “why don’t you do something about your obnoxious child?” looks from strangers with a quick, “He has TS–he can’t help it.”  However, let him wear his rhinstone-studded shoes to the park, and there is no quick explanation to excuse the behavior.  Why?

Gerald is now almost 12 and is much more cautious about showing his feminine side to peers, which is the reason I don’t use his real name here.  (He was bullied out of one school already and isn’t going to risk that again.)  Despite my attempts at an ‘it is what it is’ approach to life, I can’t help asking why a boy on the feminine side of the gender spectrum draws so much attention–even more than an 12-year old with a barking tic.  And why can’t his little brother play with a Barbie at the park without being questioned?  For some reason that every second grader seems to understand, I can’t figure out why pink, above all, is THE big issue.

In this blog I struggle to understand why gender non-conforming boys are so shocking and share the day-to-day difficulties and joys of parenting both outside socially-imposed gender lines as well as what I see as our bigger parenting challenges–transracial adoption, Tourette Syndrome, and other special needs. My hope is that others will see themselves or their children in these stories and that collectively our stories will connect and serve to bring about more acceptance for kids who are “different.”


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