“Today her name is Ahna,” said the woman with the stroller, answering the question posed by the lady in line behind her at the crowded Park Slope post office late yesterday afternoon.
“Anna!” shouted a small, high voice.
“Oh, yes, sorry. It’s Anna,” the mom said, corrected. “She doesn’t like how I pronounce it.”
I smiled. The girl knows what she wants. I was filling out a priority mail envelope at a side counter ahead of them. On my way out, the mom was writing on the box she held in one hand, while her three-year-old with dark red curls pushed a banana chip into her mouth.
“Excuse me,” I whispered to the mom. “I’m wondering, if today your daughter is Anna, who is she on most days?”
The mom looked up with a grin. “Most days she’s Ginger. That’s her real name. But some days she’s Huckle Cat. Other days it can be any number of names. She’s got a lot of characters inside her.”
“That’s so creative,” I said, “to explore who she feels like on the inside.”
“Well, today that’s Anna from Frozen, unfortunately” the mom replied.
I laughed. “Yes, I know how Disney captivates at that age.”
I felt lighter on my way home thinking about how easily a child Ginger’s age can change from feeling like a female princess one day to a male cat another. It so clearly supported the idea that as individuals we each have the ability, and often the inclination, to associate our identities with any of the attributes that society has deemed either “masculine” or “feminine.”
Then I was reminded of two other gender-related news items that had caught my attention earlier in the day. The first was the international news that Thailand’s constitution will include reference to a “third gender” for the first time.
As a Drafting Committee Panel member told Reuters: “We are putting the words ‘third gender’ in the constitution because Thai society has advanced.
“There are not only men and women; we need to protect all sexes. We consider all sexes to be equal.”
Also yesterday, the New York City Council launched its first-ever municipal identification program, IDNYC, designed to remove the significant barriers that many New York LGBTQ youth, among others, face when trying to obtain a valid ID.
The media thankfully has broadened the national dialogue about gender, and transgender specifically. Last year Laverne Cox, of Orange is the New Black fame, appeared on the cover of Time magazine and last Sunday the Amazon series Transparent received the Golden Globe award for best TV series, musical or comedy.
I’m hopeful the discourse will continue to poke holes in many of the outdated ideas society professes about gender, gender identity and gender expression. At least that’s where I’ll be focused! I’m fascinated with our beliefs about gender. So, stay tuned. What topics about gender are you most interested in?
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