By the time he was two years old, my son Harry loved Barbie dolls, sparkly fabrics and all things pink. That’s also the age he told me, “Inside my head I’m a girl.” It was 1992. Harry’s dad and I had no idea what that meant. The Internet was no help, because there was no Internet. Terms like transgender and gender nonconforming were rare. And the concept of a gender creative child? Well, that just didn’t exist.
Fast forward to April 2016, and the release of an exciting new book titled, The Gender Creative Child: Pathways for Nurturing and Supporting Children Who Live Outside Gender Boxes, by Diane Ehrensaft, PhD. It comes five years after her groundbreaking first book, Gender Born, Gender Made, in which she first coined the term “gender creative” to describe kids whose authentic gender identify or gender expression didn’t match the sex markers of M or F that appeared on their birth certificate.
The Gender Creative Child is an essential guide for any parent whose child goes against the grain of society’s expectations about gender. Dr. Ehrensaft has delved deeply into the hearts and minds of gender-nonconforming and transgender children and adolescents to bust a multitude of myths. In simple language, The Gender Creative Child explores and explains affirming new ways of thinking about gender nonconformity.
As she points out in her very first chapter, a dress no longer equals girl; a buzz cut no longer equals boy. And the boys and girls themselves are most often the ones challenging the old and rigid ideas of gender conformity.
For any parent or family member confused or anxious by their child’s gender creativity and complexity, The Gender Creative Child will be an invaluable handbook that provides sensitive wisdom, helpful messages, and constructive advice. In all honesty, I think it’s a must-read for all parents, teachers and pediatricians and should be in every public library. Riding the crest of the sea change of gender she describes, Diane Ehrensaft is indeed a “gender angel.” I only wish I’d had this book when Harry was growing up. I know I’ll read again and refer to it often, just as I did with the one that preceded it.
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