« Oh, say, can we see: Zack Beauchamp on the national anthem at sporting events | Main | Talk to us, Mr. President: Brian Goedde on community colleges and prestige »

09/29/2016

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Yes

Yes, i think Frankel made the right call. Frankel was showing her child that she accepted him for who he was. Children show their creativity through their clothes. My response would have been the same after reading that line "by protecting them at all cost or by supporting them unconditionally." Frankels essay did influence my response. Kids have every right to be who they want to be. Kids only want to express themselves. Frankel said kids should be comfortable with their selves, and she's right. Frankel always gave her son the same amount of love and affection. She encouraged him to stick up to the bullies.And now her daughter knows who she really is. She got to embrace herself because of Frankel.Frankel loved and helped her. Your child will always be your child. You want them to accept you then you have to accept them. If i was Frankel i would have reacted and did the same exact thing. I want my child to feel comfortable and accepted. i will support his every decision.

Tisha

As a parent of a transgender child, I connected with this story personally. As Frankel was nervous, so was I. My child was a girl who feels like he is a boy and came out in 8th grade. The boy vs. girl clothing was not a surprise as my sister had worn boys clothing when she was younger because it was more comfortable. However, it was a surprise he felt this way for so long and didn't express his feelings before 8th grade. I wish I would have had words of wisdom and role played with my child like Frankel did so he could have been more prepared for the comments and whispers. We should always stand up for our children and protect them even from family who doesn't understand or agree with the decision. As a parent, all you want is for your child to be happy and healthy- mental, physically and emotionally.

Sam

I agree that parents should support their children unconditionally, a point that needs emphasizing since so many people believe that there is a right way and a wrong way for a person to live their lives. I think that Frankel did the absolute best thing that she could for her child. I agree with Trisha above when she says that role playing was a great idea, this prepared her for what people would say at school. There is no right or wrong way to be, whatever makes a person happy, is right. When Frankel said, "Do we love our children best by protecting them at all costs or by supporting them unconditionally," I understood her worry and confusion. Many people are still not accepting and kind but that doesn't mean that her child, or anyone else for that matter, should have to pretend to be something that they are not. Do whatever makes you happy and support whatever makes others happy, great job Frankel.

Mel Toth

I agree with what “Yes” said about how children have a right to express themselves, and parents accept and support their child no matter who they are. I think this is the best philosophy to have and unconditional love is the greatest gift a parent gives to their child. However, I do think that this ideology can be rather hard to put into practice when it comes to transgender children. We all want to be that parent like Frankel in the article who accepts her child for who she/he is, but it isn’t always as simple as Frankel makes it seem to be. Personally, I think I would struggle a bit if my kid wanted to be a different gender. I’m not saying I wouldn’t love them or accept them, but I just think that this acceptance is harder than Yes’s response with a rainbows and butterflies type of attitude.

Thomas

Laurie Frankel's opinions on parenting indicate to me a sense of laziness and overthinking with regard to what should be a simple concept. The concept is that boys and girls are scientifically, biologically and mentally different. This difference should be seen as what makes us special but instead some parents give into childish whims when they should more actively support the child the way they are and not the way they see themselves. Unfortunately, the art of parenting is being lost to the more popular idea of friending. Parents are too consumed with "what if my child disagrees with me and doesn't like me" to actually parent in a more practical, wise manner. Enabling fantasy is just as harmful to me as enabling drug addiction and appears to be a social epidemic on a previously unimagined scale. While it goes without saying that a parent should love their child unconditionally, that does not mean that the child should be raised with no conditions and boundaries. When taken to an extreme level, as it has in some instances, it appears to me as a form of child abuse as it promotes a future in which the child will have difficulty functioning with others. Vive la différence.

Cheyenne McClain

Yes, I agree with article. Kids have a right to be what they want to be no matter what the situation is. As being a mother to a 2-year old girl it's helps me know that my daughter can be anything that she wants to be. If she wants to express herself and wear basketball shorts and t-shirts; instead of dresses and skirts than I'm going to support her and let her. Parents these days don't understand the factors of how their children wants to be. Instead they (Parents) put things in children's minds that make them believe they have to be that person. Kids need to express, grow and experience things. With the supporting help of the parents, that your children be whoever they want to be in this world. Don't judge and always love them.

Olivia

I don't agree or disagree with Frankel, and I don't think she is right or wrong either, as I have no idea what I would do in that situation. Reading this article gave me a perspective on the transgender idea that I really had never thought about. Before this, I thought "protection at all costs or unconditional support" were the same things. After reading this, I now know they are not. If I absolutely had to choose one I can honestly say I don't know what I would choose, because I don't know what it's like to possibly be in he wrong body. I would never want my child to be bullied which means not letting them do things that might cause this to start. But, if that means making them unimaginably unhappy, I couldn't do that to them either. All of these comments make sense and further Frankel's argument. They provide further insight into a whole world I honestly had never even thought about. Would I want my child happy? Yes. Could I send them to school knowing they would be made fun of? I don't know.

Olivia

I also agree with Cheyenne as she says parents make their kids be what they want, not what the kids themselves want to be. Thomas also makes this very clear as he calls Frankel lazy for overthinking "what should be a simple concept." But with all of these responses, we need to take a step back a realize that sometimes not all people are okay with this huge amount of change. It can be very hard for some parents, and honestly was hard for me to understand before this article, too. I thought I wanted to dress my little girl up in ballerina skirts and pretty pink bows her entire life. But now I realize that if that's not what she wants, it might not be what I want either. I agree with Mel she she says children should be what they want. This will help them grow their imagination and help them go really far later in life.

Aaron

While I do agree that you should love your child unconditionally, I would rather keep my child safe. If I had a boy that wanted to wear a dress to school I would tell them no. Not because I don't want them to be happy, but I would rather keep them safe. I would rather them be mad at me for a little while than to be picked on at school. So like Thomas said there is a difference between being a parent and being a friend. Being a parent is doing what is best for your child and if you let them go to school in a skirt or a dress then you are allowing your child to be picked on. Kids can be very cruel and by letting your child do whatever he or she wants then you are making them very vulnerable to kids who will not be as understanding as an adult. As the child ages I would presume that the bullying would intensify. Soon the chuckling and the questions would become name calling, shunning, and shaming. "Yes" is right, your child will always be your child and that you should love and support them. However, you will need to draw the line and do what's best to keep them safe, and if that means not always letting them express themselves then so be it.

Cheyenne McClain

I also agree with Olivia and "Yes". Showing your children the love and affection that they need will help them become what they need/ want in life. Frankel/ Olivia is right I would never want my children to be bullied for expressing themselves but making them unhappy and not comfortable with themselves isn't an option either. Reading this article really helped me put an understanding on things that transgender and people that want to be different go through. The parents that let their children express themselves, in the long run your child would be happy.

Alyssa Stout

Frankels argument in this essay is simply, "Do we love our children best by protecting them at all costs or by supporting them unconditionally?" I completely agree with her decision to allow her daughter to dress however she wanted. Even as kids, a person knows what they feel inside, and who they are. If we start at a young age teaching children that it is okay to be who they are, we are speeding up the process of equality together. Although Frankel did not show much emotion in the essay, I was still very moved by it. Her lack of emotion gave the reader a chance to form their own opinion, she did not give a specific answer, she simply left it up to the reader to decide what the right choice was to them. I think she includes the "they say" very well in her essay, she gives the reader a chance to question what "they" would say, what the other children would say, what society would say, not only to her son but to her as well. Towards the end of the essay is when Frankel presented the change from male to female, she stated "He had already decided. He didn’t think about that anymore. And he — she — never looked back." This sort of transition from he to she in the essay was very moving to me. I think this was great placement for it to be said it was showing cross from one to the other, as she never looked back from wearing skirts, the family never looked back to calling her a boy. A whole new life was formed, and this was particularly moving to me. Thomas, you explained in your response that you feel that Frankel's opinion on parenting, "indicate to me a sense of laziness and overthinking with regard to what should be a simple concept," but I feel it was what a good parent should do. She did not make a life decision for a child on her own, she had to swallow her pride, her judgements, her thoughts of what others would think of her, and set it aside to allow her daughter to be happy. I feel that it would be particularly "lazy" to not listen to what your child wants, to put their needs and happiness aside to fulfill their own needs, or their sense of pride, to stray away from judgement. Which is something that for the rest of the child's life, and the families life they will receive, judgment. So in my opinion, this was a very brave choice, that they will forever have live with. But worth it for their child's happiness.

Lina

I believe that Frankel made the right decision to let her child feel most comfortable as a girl, instead of forcing the gender she was born with, on her. Everyone's surroundings influence them somehow, and for people like Frankel's daughter, she was not phased by those influences to become a boy but she became who she really is. Confusion and asking questions in these cases are understandable. Having your child convert from one gender to another can be hard, but it's worth letting them feel comfortable in their own skin. Towards the end, when Frankel describes the moment her daughter transitioned from "he" to "she", it was very moving to me. To have your own child talk to you in a perspective where you cannot relate can shatter a parent because of the lack of understanding they have. For a parent helping their child through this, they will worry about what others have to say, because it shows a reflection of how they raise their children. And for them to care so much about what others think, shows how insecure a parent can really be. There a parents today that toss their child out on the streets or even abuse them because they aren't following the social rules of their gender. But parents like Frankel are a blessing to this world. She treats her child with the same love and respect as if she were still a boy.

Lauren

I agree with Mel Toth's statement that sometimes parents of transgender children want to provide unconditional love and support for their son or daughter but can have a hard time practicing that and making that transition. When making a lifestyle change it won't be easy, and everyone involved will need an adjustment period. However, I disagree with what Toth said about Frankel making the whole process seem very simple in the article. Frankel and her husband were able to accept and unconditionally love their child for who she really was, but they did have fears and some reservations that Frankel expressed throughout the article. Such as, contemplating whether or not they should let their child wear dresses to school, repeatedly asking her child if this is what she really wanted, or trying to hide her fear of what other kids might say on the first day of school. Tisha said that parents want their children to be "happy and healthy" in all aspects. I agree with this statement and I think that is what causes parents, including Frankel, to have their fears and struggles. They want to tell their children to be who they are and be comfortable in their own skin, but fear what other people's comments could do to their child, or even fearing some might become physically aggressive.

Hubert Adams

Frankel did the right choice by accepting who her child was.She didn't try to force her to wear shorts and T-shirts like a boy. Frankel and her husband did accept their child with unconditionally love for who she truly was, but they did have some fears like bullying from the other kids.The line that the teacher said to "support our child “no matter what.” really gets to me because that all the child needs is support from the family and teachers. I 100% disagree that Thomas calling "Laurie Frankel's opinions on parenting indicate to me a sense of laziness and overthinking with regard to what should be a simple concept". how is that laziness to care and let who her child wants to be.Its not about the child disagreeing with Frankel. Its about letting the child be who they want to be AND LOVE THEM NO MATTER THEY DECIDE.

Madison

While many people still subscribe to the tradition that only girls wear skirts and boys wear shorts and t shirts, Laurie Frankel allowed her son to wear skirts to his first day of first grade, despite what she feared other children would say to him. There is a resounding sense that Frankel did the right thing by supporting her son no matter what, and I agree. I really appreciate that she felt comfortable enough to tell her story so that more people going through similar situations can feel more comfortable making a more informed decision about how to handle it. I think that Tisha’s comment is a testimony to how powerful this article is and how people in this situation really find solace and comfort in knowing that someone else struggled and eventually found the best thing for their child. I think that Frankel really did the best thing for her child by allowing him to express himself in the way he feels comfortable and loving and supporting him unconditionally. I like that she included that she doubted that her son would continue to wear skirts because of the ridicule but that her son was strong enough to stick up for what he believed in and continue to live the life he chooses- I think that’s the mark of good parenting.

Julia Mark

In this article, Laurie Frankel shares her story about her son’s transition from a boy to a girl and what it was like as a parent during that time. I think through her article, Frankel sheds light on what that experience is like for the parent as well as what her son was going through at the time. I believe her article is effective in helping others with similar stories, like Tisha said, and I think that shows how many people can relate to Frankel’s story. I think Tisha also has a valid point when she brings up how role playing would have helped her child to help prepare her for the way others may react. I think it was a good idea for Frankel to role play with her son before he went to school so that he would have an easier time dealing with the comments and reactions of other students. I also agree with Sam when she says that parents should support their kids unconditionally. I think it is important that kids get to choose the life they want to live and, even though it may be difficult, parents should support them and love them no matter what. I disagree with Thomas’s comment that Frankel’s parenting style is lazy and that she overthought the situation. He is mistaken because he overlooks the fact that for any parent or person, this situation is probably very stressful and confusing. Frankel did what she thought was best for her son by making sure that was what he really wanted and that he would be ready to face whatever came his way in the future. I think the fact that she talks about how now her daughter is happy with who she is and as a family, they are open and honest about their situation shows that her parenting style was successful in helping her daughter feel comfortable in her transition from a boy to a girl.

Jordan Ramos

Frankel was trying to make an argument as well because I am sure that there are parents out there that would not allow this type of behavior. I am sure that there are parents that would not want their child to go through that because they are worried about what others would say. I feel like there are some parents that would force their child to wear the clothes they are supposed to, girls wear dresses and skirts, and boys wear jeans and a shirt. Not every parent would agree with what Frankel decided to do, by letting her son transition already into their daughter. I feel like some parents would completely disagree. Most parents would just think of it as a stage that the child is going through and that it will all blow over eventually. But that is not necessarily always the case, it could be the start of a transition and from that point on their son transitions to their daughter instead. The argument is that you support you children no matter what their decision is and no matter what the age is.
I am kind of at an agreement with the fact that with children should be able to express themselves however they want and that you should support them no matter what. But at the same time I almost disagree. I feel like going through a transition that early is a bit much to me. I feel like in first grade, the child is not really sure what they want at that point, it honestly might just be a phase that they are going through. I understand that the mother just wanted to support what was going on, but at the same time she could have put an end to it at some point. The child was only carrying on with it because the mother was carrying on with it. And I understand that it could be a hard position to be in, but I feel like the mother should have handled it a little differently by taking more control of the situation by changing things around and making more decisions for the child rather than the child making them all by itself. It is hard to pick which side I agree with, as if it was the right thing for her to do, or if it was the wrong thing to do. But overall, I am not a parent so it is hard to relate to a situation like this. It is her child and she is the mother she can raise her child however she feel is right, and if she feels like she did the right thing, then she did the right thing. That is just how she handled the situation, everyone, I am sure, would have handled the situation a little differently. Some would agree and some would disagree it is all based off of everyone’s opinion.

Daisy Daly

Frankel's decision to support her child's fashion sense is the way all parents should respond to such a situation. Love is about giving someone the freedom to grow and express themselves without fear of judgement. Her choice to allow her son to choose to wear clothing traditionally meant to be worn by girls,and then eventually allowing him to transition into a girl altogether, ways a act of true love for her child. My response would have been the same regardless of whether I read the article or not. To me, love is trying to mold someone to fit the roles society has assigned them, but by encouraging them to be who they are despite the opposition they may face.

Justin White

God bless these parents! This situation would push a lot of people to their limits, but this mother seemed to handle the situation well. That being said, I do disagree with the parent’s decision allowing their child to wear a dress to school. I agree that a person should be free to be them self without fear of persecution, but you have to protect your first grader. At some point the parent in you has to come out and influence your child to follow the cultural norm. Allowing a first grader to make this decision that carries lifelong implications on their own is not appropriate. A first grader simply doesn’t have the life experience to make this decision on their own. If the child still feels that he is more comfortable in a dress in middle school or high school, then I would support the child in how he wishes to live. I agree with Thomas that this child’s parenting should be called into question considering this child was ready to make this decision at such a young age. Thomas says parents become overly worried about their child disagreeing with them. I believe that parents should be willing to put their foot down every once in a while for the benefit of their child’s future.

KJ

While Aaron is probably wrong when he claims that stifling a child’s self-expression is helpful, he is right that it should be a parent’s first priority to protect her child, in Frankel’s case. This is a hard topic to argue, as I’m not a parent, but I do have a few friends who have been through this situation. I agree that it is difficult to let a child make his or her own choices, especially when the parents know it could be detrimental, or even dangerous. Aaron’s response to Frankel’s article sparks a huge debate on whether or not children should be allowed to express themselves by fashion, regardless of the consequences. We live in an advancing society, so I believe that children should wear what they want. I disagree with Aaron on the idea that parents try to be friends with their kids, which is why they let them wear what they want; I believe that being a good parent means supporting your child, and that leads to letting your child wear what he or she wants, and knowing that he or she has your support either way.

Sara Beth Sears

I agree with Frankel’s decision to allow her son to wear dresses and skirts because she is providing her son the ability to do something that makes him happy. She is permitting her son to express himself in his own way. I agree with Sam’s statement that no one should have to pretend they are something that they are not. Since Frankel’s son felt comfortable and enjoyed wearing dresses she decided that her child’s happiness was more important than what everyone else’s thoughts were. I believe that parents should support their children in the decisions that they make. I understand the hard decision Frankel had to make regarding what her child should wear to school. Since society believes boys should not wear dresses it would have been much easier for her to forbid her son to wear dresses so he would fit in with the other children at school. I believe Frankel made the right decision by allowing her son to be himself and express himself in a way that makes him happy.

Thomas B

I agree with KJ’s opinion on this matter. Letting a child wear clothing that they want to wear that defies gender norms does not mean a parent is trying to be a friend to their child, it means they are trying to be a good parent. It was interesting to read Laurie Frankel’s perspective on the issue as a parent facing this specific situation. She had to make a very hard decision as a parent and I won’t even begin to assume I know what it is like to have to make a decision like that. I do know that when making a decision like this you have to balance your child’s mental wellbeing and their emotional wellbeing. You may fulfill one while risking damaging the other. I can’t say whether a decision is right or wrong, but I can respect Frankel’s ability to make one.

Bradley Fayonsky

Frankel's decision was a good example of people trying not to offend others at the cost of the truth. Basic biology, genetics, and psychology all point to the fact that Frankel's child being a male. It is the parent's job to love and help the child, but not be his friend. Seeking mental help and teaching the kid that they are a male and need to act accordingly may be difficult, but is raising them correctly. A child may believe that they can fly or that they don't have to go to sleep until midnight may make them happy, but the parent must make the mature decision for the child. Children should not be the decision makers in the family, and Frankel showed a lack of hard parenting. The child may have been more comfortable in a dress, but he will now grow up believing he is a woman that happened to have male genitalia and XY chromosomes. Science would suggest otherwise, society has very little to do with this phenomena. Once the child became an adult, he can decide his own actions, but until then I believe the parents should teach reality instead of fantasy.

Dsobers

One controversial issue in America today is transgender children and how to appropriately educate and teach kids how to deal with said issues. Laurie Frankel talks about her own experiences with such an issue in her article "From He to She in First Grade", narrating her own story about her son's gender switch in the first grade. She explains his desire to dress as a female, not concerned with the opinion of his classmates, eventually making every effort to be a full girl. Frankel analyzes how her thinking on the subject has impacted her perception of transgender kids, and the reaction that many children had was mostly indifferent and accepting.
Frankel's article is useful in analyzing the transgender debate because it shows the desire parents have to protect their children but also let them express themselves, and it demonstrates that small children can be accepting and understanding of others as long as the adults in the situation handle it with care and explanation. I believe we as a society are not as accepting and understanding of transgender people as we should be, especially within children. I have stated many times before that I believe that children are not born hateful, it is the environment they are put in and the role models in their lives that create this ideology. I believe Frankel's experience and story can be used as a lesson for other transgender kids, and the accepting nature and virtue we should show when dealing with such issues.

jfonse

In her piece, “From He to She in First Grade” writer Laurel Frankel explains her own experience grappling with what to do when her little boy decided he wanted to start dressing as a girl. When it comes to the topic of sexual identity and transgender children, one controversial issue has been how to parent a child who may be transgender and where is the line between a child playing dress-up and a child expressing who they truly are. Whereas some are convinced it is a parent’s duty to end fantasy and force a child to dress in accordance to their sex assigned at birth, others embrace the possibility of having a transgender child and maintain that good parenting is allowing a child to dress in whatever they feel most comfortable in. I disagree with commenter Bradely Fayonsky’s view that a child’s wish to dress as another gender is fantasy and a cry for mental health because, as recent research reported by the LA Times this past June shows, being transgender is not a mental illness. Though I concede that yes biology does show Frankel’s son is male, I still insist that does not always mean that gender is what a child feel most comfortable in. Furthermore, I agree that a parent should be a parent first and a friend second however Fayonsky is in the wrong by implying that being a parent means forcing a child to be something no matter what makes the child feel most comfortable as. In short, by focusing on the outdated and close minded belief that being transgender is a mental issue or fantasy, Fayonsky overlooks the deeper problem of children being uncomfortable with who they are and children being bullied in school for expressing their true self.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

About They Say / I Blog

  • New readings posted monthly, on the same issues that are covered in “They Say / I Say” with Readings—and with a space where readers can comment, and join the conversation.

Become a Fan