In a heartbreaking story out of Brazil, a young mom chose to raise her little girl as a boy for two years, even lying to the girl's father, so that she could avoid the abuse that she suffered as a young girl happening to her daughter as well. I am not sure which part is sadder -- that she was able to get away with it (no one changed a SINGLE diaper besides her??) or that she felt she had to.
This is the kind of thing that horror movie writers go crazy for. There was a campy 1980s horror movie called Sleepaway Camp where the psycho killer was murdered because he was forced to live as a girl. It was creepy and disturbing. But this isn't a horror movie. This is real life, and while I can't imagine living as the other gender would really cause such distress, I am guessing that being raised by a mom who felt that victimized might.
As parents, we have a responsibility to deal with our own issues and not let them project onto our kids. Let this story be a lesson in that.
As a mom of both a boy and a girl, I am often privy to the many gender stereotypes that make up our lives and the ways that we project our own worries and fears onto our little ones just because of their gender.
Men worry their sons won't be good at sports. Moms worry their daughters won't like shopping. And vice versa. Oh yes, it goes round and round. But guess what? Our children are not us. And they are not defined by their gender. They are who they are.
A boy can get abused just as easily as a girl and a boy can be vulnerable and cry and be into art just as a girl can be into science and want to build skyscrapers and wear overalls. It's all OK. Changing a child's gender or confusing them about what is expected of them doesn't help anyone.
My heart goes out to this poor mom who thought she had to do this. She didn't. There are other ways to protect our kids and to be vigilant. My guess is she felt her options were very limited. She did what she could to protect her daughter. And the only thing she could do? Was to make her a boy.
It's so sad.
Do you ever worry about your daughter because she is a girl?
Image via handmaidenbymaria/Flickr