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HuffPo Live: Gender Bending a ‘Benefit’ for Children

Panel decries gender ‘myths.’

Gender differences are a thing of the past! Boys can wear skirts and play with dolls, and your children need to know it, according to the talking heads at the Huffington Post.

In a recent segment on HuffPo Live entitled, “Gender Myth Busting,” a panel of contributors denounced social assumptions about men and women, and declared that children have trouble understanding “androgynous” gays merely because society trained them to see everything as “male or female.” Predictably, all in the segment agreed: tossing “gender stereotypes” out the window is beneficial for kids. 

The host of the segment, Caitlyn Becker, opened the show by complaining about the lines between genders: “Girls will be girls and boys will be boys,” she said, “But what does that really mean?” Becker asked. “If you don’t fit into those gender roles it can become confusing.”

Confusing indeed. Dr. Lise Eliot, author of a book on how to change the way children establish gender categories, was confused. She admitted that “even very young babies” naturally categorize people as male or female, but at the same time insisted that these categories weren’t “hardwired” in their brains but were mostly due to “learning, and the roles that children are so astute at picking up.” 

So it’s not natural that kids naturally understand men are different from women? That’s right. The panel concurred that “regardless of their biology,” what mattered was whether a person would “identify as male or identify as female.”

When Becker asked whether a “gender neutral” world would confuse children at all, Eliot declared it would only help them: “I would say, our society is so gender-divided right now that I don’t think there’s a risk of our children understanding whether they’re male or female. So I think things we can do to break down gender stereotypes is to children’s benefit.” If your kid thinks men and women are different, the HuffPo contributors seem to think, you’d better nip that “stereotype” in the bud. 

Wondering how to “encourage” children who want to break gender molds, Becker decried “bullying” from classmates that could arise when a little boy wants to “paint his nails or wear a skirt.” But Eliot thinks that times are changing for tots. “I think we’re seeing more flexibility … I would like to hope that certainly in more progressive, more open-minded places, parents are seeing it’s only to children’s benefit to break down gender stereotypes.” 

The panel discussion, which also denounced the “myths” that only men should pick up the check and that girls shouldn’t swear, drew to a close by commenting that “gender is socially constructed.” Becker concluded by pointing out that “It’s not the biology you’re born with, it’s what you identify with that’s creating these myths that we’re trying to bust, right? We’re all in agreement!” 

And so are plenty of other liberal sophisticates, like the J. CREW executive who was pictured in a marketing piece painting her five-year-old son’s toenails hot pink. There is NBC’s Meredith Vieira, who helped a mother hawk a children’s book she wrote about her young “Princess Boy” son, who like to “dress up in, in dresses, and pretty colors and sparkily things.” And there’s ABC’s Juju Chang, who celebrated how two young boys accepted their “other mom that used to be a dad.” 

But, as HuffPo’s “Gay Voices” page has pointed out, there are still backward individuals who would disappoint 11-year-old boy who pretends to be a girl by not addressing transgender rights in their otherwise exquisitely liberal inaugural addresses. 

The struggle goes on …