Walking to collect Chloe at the agreed meeting point, I immediately noticed that she was not smiling.
We were two days on our mother-daughter vacation to Greece – traveling with a friend and her daughter – and so far it went brilliantly.
But now, for the first time since we arrived, Chloe looked down & # 39 ;. I hugged her and asked what was going on.
& # 39; Some kids said I looked like a boy, mommy, they laughed at my clothes, & # 39; she said, eyes down.
I studied my beautiful child – my blond-haired, green-eyed waif – dressed in her chosen beach uniform of blue-and-white shorts, decorated with sharks, a blue & # 39; rash vest & # 39 ;, a multicolored hoodie and a sun hat.
Kitty Dimbleby photographed with her daughter Chloe in their house in Bath
& # 39; What did you say back, & # 39; I asked kindly and fought the urge to beat every child who had been mean to her.
& # 39; I said they were stupid, I look like a surfer, and some of the best surfers in the world are girls. & # 39;
And with that she shook it off. I said a silent prayer that my feisty daughter has more inner self-confidence than I have ever had, and thank goodness for the surfing lessons in Cornwall last summer.
My daughter has short hair, hates dresses and the color pink. She loves football, but refuses to play at school because the other children have told her not to do that as a girl.
So she joined the new single girl team at our local youth football club, proudly dressed in the blue and white kit and I look forward to the training sessions. She also goes to ballet classes and gymnastics.
Chloe loves art and is a big fan of Harry Potter. She plays Ghost Busters in the playground and wants to be a spy when she grows up. She is planning a camping party for her seventh birthday. In short, she is well-rounded.
But many see her to use the somewhat old-fashioned phrase as a tomboy. And it is true that she is happiest when she does activities that people normally like & # 39; for boys & # 39; consider.
It's not that she wants to be a boy – she doesn't give her gender or gender a second thought – she just wants to be herself in all her scrappy, brave, nasty, six-year-old glory.
I was like she was growing up. My best friend was the boy next door and we were inseparable – we spent the summer vacation through the opening in the hedges in each other's gardens to play until we were called for tea.
I could climb and swim better than he could, while he first learned to cycle and he was the faster runner. Born just nine days apart and both equally blond and skinny, we could have been twins and the fact that he was a boy and I was a girl was never a problem.
But the attitudes were different in the 1980s; it was a much freer time for girls and boys. Why? We could just be – without today's obsession with gender.
Now even traditional favorites are being reviewed in the light of our new favorite topic.
This week it's Enid Blyton's Malory Towers series, with its beautiful tomboy character Bill (short for Wilhelmina, but call her at your own risk). Emma Rice, the theater director, is adjusting the books for the stage and has put a non-binary actor in the role, saying that Bill may have been transgender or gay.
& # 39; Bill is portrayed as a tomboy in the books, but thanks to the progress we have made as a society, people like Bill can now express their identity in other ways, & # 39; she said. That would indeed be a big step forward if Bill was transgender or gay, but what if Bill is just a tomboy?
I recently saw a book about Amazon with the title Jack (Not Jackie) – which according to the blatantly a & # 39; heart-warming picture book … A big sister realizes that her little sister, Jackie, doesn't like dresses or fairies – she loves of tires and critters! Will she and her family be able to accept that Jackie identifies more as Jack? & # 39;
Chloe has joined the new girls-only team of her local youth football club, proudly dressed in the blue and white kit
Various groups have labeled this groundbreaking. I think it is the opposite – shamelessly equating that it is female with (women's hatred) stereotypes of gender. It is aimed at children of my daughter's age and promotes the idea that if you did not adhere to the & # 39; girls & # 39; stereotypes, you would have born the wrong gender.
& # 39; But as Jackie grows, she doesn't want to play those games. She wants to play with mud and be a superug! Jackie also doesn't like dresses or her long hair and she would rather be called Jack & # 39 ;, the author says. Far from supporting the transgender community, this trivialization is what individuals with gender dysmorphia go through. What's more, it's telling girls they can't be women if they don't conform. In my opinion this is reactionary – and harmful.
Over the past five years, the number of children referred to the Tavistock Center in London, an NHS clinic that treats transgender adolescents, has risen from 468 to 2,519 a year.
This is an increase of more than 400 percent, with the proportion of girls rising faster than boys. I cannot be alone in finding this concerning.
Here I must emphasize that gender dysmorphia is a real, medically recognized, condition – and I have nothing but sympathy and respect for the young adults who, with proper guidance and support, decide to switch to the gender they know they should be at birth.
But when even a former governor of England & # 39; s only NHS gender clinic for young people says they are too quick to handle the treatment of sex changes by children and young people, we have to wonder why and why so many young people and their parents are interested in it are looking.
Psychoanalyst Dr. Marcus Evans, who resigned in February, told the Today BBC program that he was worried about clinicians looking for & # 39; fast solutions & # 39 ;.
He said: & # 39; Adolescence and youth is a time when people develop socially and biologically – a time when young people identify with different groups and with male and female aspects of themselves. & # 39; Listen.
Recently, Phoebe Waller-Bridge (33), the award-winning writer and actress, revealed that she was such a six-summer break that she was cutting her hair, wearing boy's clothing, and demanding that her parents wear her & # 39; Alex & # 39; called.
When asked if that meant that she would be considered trans today, she said: & I mean, there is kind of a wanderer … I was fervent about it when I was younger.
& # 39; I just wanted to be terribly more a boy than anything else. If it had been taken seriously by my school or if those options had been given to me, I would probably have jumped into it. & # 39;
She explained: & # 39; I wasn't thinking about being a boy or being a girl. But then I discovered (being attracted to) boys in a big way … That was the kind of crossroads. & # 39;
It was a phase for Waller-Bridge – and she had a chance to grow. Now our children are told daily – through advertisements – that certain things are for girls and others for boys. Even Lego has been split into & # 39; pink & # 39; and & # 39; blue & # 39 ;, with the Lego Friends range with its shopping centers and stables aimed at the girls and the more interesting things for the boys.
I want my son to be himself too. Max, who is three, loves dinosaurs and tractors. Three of his four best friends are girls. He loves elegant princess dresses and he loves to copy his big sister – she borrows her distressed leotard and tries ballet actions in our hall.
The campaigns behind the ground, Let toys be toys and make clothes beat, demand that the toy, publishing and clothing industry stop limiting the interests of children by promoting these articles as only suitable for girls and only for boys.
If one of my children turned out to be transsexual, I would support them wholeheartedly.
But now, while they are children, I am desperate that they are themselves in all their beautiful innocence – by & # 39; tomboy & # 39; and & # 39; girly & # 39; phases go the way they want. As a friend said, just let people be people – regardless of whether they are small or mature.
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