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The limits of our power

October 26, 2012

Last night, I attended a wonderful lecture on gender creative children, given by Dr. Diane Ehrensaft as part of a conference at Concordia University.  These are children who, in various ways, do not fit inside the binary model of boy/girl.  Some of them are transgender (where, after all, did we think transgender adults came from?); some of them are “gender fluid”; some of them are “gender hybrid”.  None of them, or their parents, have easy paths ahead of them, considering the world in which they (and all of us) must live.

But as I sat there, I realized that much of the guidance being given for parents and caregivers of these children was applicable to other children’s caregivers as well.  (Which is, of course, another of way of saying that gender creative children do not have special needs – when their needs aren’t meant it is because of our neglect or hostility or discomfort and not because of our inability.)

The line that is still with me, nearly 24 hours later, is this:

Parents have little control over their children’s gender identity but extensive influence over their children’s gender health.

The statement holds true when you take out the word “gender”, too.

Parents have little control over their children’s gender identity but extensive influence over their children’s gender  health.

We are co-creators, not creators.  And we co-create not only with God, the Creator, but with our children and their friends and our communities and the media and on and on and on.   I admit that this is scary.  Control feels safer than influence, at least to me.  But that is a false security, a false independence.  Accepting our limitations is a liberating act, freeing us to love  the people who have been given into our care no matter the identities they reveal.

 

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