Monday, December 6, 2010

Pink Boys with Puppy Dog Tails

What to do with a "pink boy"?

In my e-mail in-box a few weeks ago, I received a polite message from a woman named Sarah Hoffman who was writing to ask why I was being such a gender conservative. Sarah didn't quite put it that way, but that was the gist of her message, and given that I'm usually accused of being a gender radical, I sat up and listened. And as I read the whole of Sarah's message, I realized she was absolutely right.

Sarah identifies herself as a mother of a "pink boy" - a boy whose manner of play and dress has often tended toward what's common in girls. Sarah was writing to me specifically in response to a piece I'd written for the Hastings Center Report called "Gender Identity Disorder in Childhood: Inconclusive Advice to Parents." There I had outlined the two basic clinical approaches taken to children labeled as having "gender identity disorder," and had mentioned my sympathies for and reservations about each.