In the times of increasing awareness about gender-neutral parenting, a 13-year-old member of the LGBTQ community from Orange County is urging parents and children to let the kids be their “authentic self”.
CJ Duron was identified as male at birth but he likes things considered “feminine” even though he is comfortable in his male body and prefers male pronouns. In a post he wrote on his mother Lori Duron’s blog Raising My Rainbow, Duron called himself “gender nonconforming or gender creative”.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve liked all the stuff in the ‘pink aisles’. I’ve always known I’m different. I’ve always known that I’m not a ‘typical boy’. And, I’ve never really cared that I’m different…The thought of having to play baseball or wear boys’ clothes makes me cringe with sadness. It makes me feel like I’d be forced to do something I don’t want to do,” he wrote.
Experts have time and again advised against labelling children. From early childhood, children are conditioned to conform to specific gender behaviour, something that could restrict their overall personality development. In his blog, Duron asserted, “Kids shouldn’t be forced to be something or someone who they aren’t. Kids should be able to be themselves.”
For Duron, gender is dated. “To me, gender is over. Gender is so last year. But when someone tells you their preferred pronouns, you should use those pronouns. Just like when they tell you their name and you use it,” he expressed.
Duron, however, does not identify as transgender. As a five or six year old child, he wanted to be a girl. “I never felt like I was a girl or like I was supposed to be a girl. That means that I’m not transgender. I don’t feel like I’m in the wrong body. I feel like I’m in the right body. I’m just me,” he added.
Duron also talked about how his parents supported him in being who he was. Telling other parents to do the same, he further wrote, “My advice to parents who have a kid like me is they should let their kid be who they were born to be. It’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with your child. You need to learn to accept it, because you aren’t going to be able to change it. And, if you try to change it, you’re just making your child upset. You’re probably making yourself upset, too. And, your child might grow up to not love themselves. Everyone should love themselves.”
Studies have shown that children who are allowed to freely live in their gender identity have better mental health outcomes. Society may not always be kind to gender nonconforming kids, as it happened in the case of Duron too but he never felt “ashamed” of who he was. “Gender creative kids need to see other kids like themselves. The more people see people like me, the less “different” we are and the more they accept people like me. Besides, I’m not ashamed of who I am,” he wrote.
In the blog post, Duron shared how he helped his elementary school in the district to adopt a gender non-specific dress code. He also got his “school district to stop sex/gender segregation in elementary school PE classes and to stop having special event dress codes that were illegal because they discriminated against gender creative students.”
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