It’s a popular idea that nobody can make you feel anything. On first take, this feels strengthening because it restores your power of choice. No longer do you have to succumb to other people’s moods and manipulations. But like many catchy sayings, this one is only partly true.
An increasing number of children are asserting their gender in unexpected ways. To understand and support these little humans, it is imperative that we have the language and information that reflects their experiences.
First, let’s make sure we understand the basic and distinctly separate tenets of gender. Assigned sex is the label of male or female given upon birth, determined almost exclusively by genitalia.
“Get it off! Get it off!” The five-year-old girl screams at the top of her lungs. I look in her direction, expecting something horrid on her—like a snake or spider of hideous proportions. On the contrary, she has glue on her fingers. Just a tiny bit of glue coats her middle and ring finger on one hand, something most people wouldn’t even react to. “Okay,” I begin to speak after the initial shock of her sudden outburst subsides. “Let me help you.” I work quickly to help her clean her fingers with a wet rag. The girl smiles and her breathing starts to slow. I take a deep breath myself.
Parents who bring their children to therapy are often desperate, anxious, and scared. They wonder if they are responsible for the difficulties their child is experiencing and may worry that they will be judged as inadequate parents. They may feel guilty or act defensive.