For the last twenty-five years, parents who prefer neutral or androgynous styles for their children have had very few options in the retail market. How do these gender rules effect children who do not conform to dominant gender expectations, including not only the 1 child in 100 who is born intersex, or the 2-10% (depending on your sources) who will be sexually attracted to partners of their own sex, but all the girls who dislike pink and the boys who want to play princess? My own research strongly argues that clothing does not “make the man” when it comes to babies and toddlers; there is no evidence whatsoever that homosexuality is any more or less prevalent now than it was when boys wore dresses until they were five, or that lesbianism spiked among the first generation of girls to wear pants. But that does not mean that children between one and six may not use clothing to help explore and express what their biological sex in the cultural landscape into which they were born. In this presentation I will offer an overview of this emerging trend and discuss its connection to the current system of gender binaries in children’s clothing, in the context of contemporary psychological thought. I will place special emphasis on the appearance of blogs and organizations that provide support to parents with “gender non-conforming” or “gender variant” boys.
I have collected some resources in my Zotero library, and will be working through the presentation here. Stay tuned!