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Question
Posted by: Anon | 2017/07/25

How do you identify gender issues in tweens?

My 9/10 year old daughter prefers sports and is not your typical girly girl and has more boys as friends because of the sports activities. Most of the girls she is friends with are also on the sporty side and very much tomboys. My husband is concerned that she may gender identification issues. I am not that concerned about it as she does like doing girly things like spa visits and manis and pedis and baking. She is not one for frills and ruffles or playing dress up and prefers comfortable clothes like jeans t-shirts and takkies. How do I know if there anything to worry about.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink
- 2017/07/26

Hello Anon,
I have some concerns that, though there is value in the recent and growing acceptance of gender variations, it may also be having some undesirable effects and can cause wholly unnecessary worries.  There are really wide variations in how entirely ordinary girls, and boys, behave and in what they enjoy.  The sort of behaviours you refer to are not biologically determined, or firmly tied to primary gender identity.  What we broadly consider to be "girly" or "boyish" are entirely social constructs, and even mere fashions, and increasingly are led by commercial propaganda.
For instance, you refer to "spa visits and manis and pedis" as typical "girly" interests.  Even a few years ago that would have been considered a weird idea.  Children of either sex / gender would never have the faintest interest in going to a spa or manicurist, until those worthless industries grew large and influential and wanted to grow their client base.
Never underestimate the millions of rands and dollars spent by commercial interests in creating such fashions ; in teaching children and adults that they should be besotted with sport, not in playing it, but in paying to watch it, drink beer while doing so, and buying shorts and other branded merchandise.
Many robustly heterosexual cisgender ( I hope I'm getting the terminology right as it shifts so often ) girls are "tom boys", don't revel in frills or dressing up and enjoy sporty and physical activities, and they probably lead healthier lives for doing so.  Similarly, it's not highly unusual or unwholesome for some boys to be uninterested in sport and to be interested in clothes or music. 
You are describing a healthy and normal child, and should encourage her to enjoy her interests and friends. I don't believe she has "gender identification issues"
I think there is a real danger here, that where parents and even children are encouraged to worry about such issues, and to move towards the idea that children ought to be bothered about such matters, and even, as some most unwisely seem to suggest, to start making decisions about their deep and lasting identity at such an early age, real damage can be done.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Liza | 2017/07/26

Gender identity is not something to worry about. If she can talk to you about her problems without feeling judged and isn't made to feel bad about the things she enjoys doing, there shouldn't be any problems because she'll be able to establish her gender identity in due course. Worrying about it would probably cause more harm in the long run than not worrying about it because it might inhibit her. Just lover her and let her be herself.

Reply to Liza
Posted by: Anonymous | 2017/07/26

Why worry at all? Let her be who she is. Putting a whole lot of pressure on her to be a certain way just because that is expected is asking for trouble in the long run. Support her in her sports and love her without condition.

Reply to Anonymous
Posted by: Anonymous | 2017/07/26

No... Stop letting the stupid pc brigade into your lives to possibly screw up your child. I was a tomboy all the way through high school and have never questioned my identity as a woman. I would still rather sit and watch a rugby match over a soapie any day - does that mean that I should have gender identity issues? No. Your child simply does not like doing girly things and finds more fun in hanging out with the boys - it does not mean that she thinks she is or wants to be a boy. She is 10 for crying out loud and hasn't even reached puberty yet - let her be a child without putting stupid and frankly in my view harmful ideas into her head. And maybe you should have a talk with your husband about his very sexist perceived gender roles. Unless and until she expresses that SHE feels that there is something wrong leave her to enjoy her life without making her feel like there SHOULD be something wrong.

Reply to Anonymous
Posted by: Anonymous | 2017/07/25

My 10 year old daughter is exactly the same

Reply to Anonymous

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