My Daughter Has Short Hair, and She’s Not Transgender

As I documented on other social media channels, my daughter Flora, she of the flowing brunette locks, recently made the decision to chop them off.

Prior to cutting her hair, Flora didn’t do much with it. For gym and soccer, she would deign to put it back in a ponytail. She didn’t want me to braid it. She brushed it, but her style was to usually wear a hat. She still prefers to wear a hat; her current favorite is a Dustin-style baseball cap from Hot Topic.

She asked to cut her hair for the summer because she was finding it annoying and hot. She referred to it as a “neck sweater”. In short, she didn’t like having long hair anymore. She didn’t have her identity wrapped up in it. (Her father, on the other hand… but this is not about him.)

Her father warned her that if she cut her hair, she may be mistaken for a boy, or teased for looking like a boy. (She doesn’t, in my opinion, look like a boy.) Flora said she understood that, and still wanted to cut her hair. It was a decision purely based on convenience and ease, which seems to be working out for her.

However, her father’s prediction has come true. She did get teased a bit by classmates, but when she asked them to not tease her about looking like a boy, most of them complied. Except for one boy, who continues to ask, “Are you a boy now?” To which she regularly replies, “No. I am not a boy.”

He recently went a little further, asking first, “Are you a boy?” then turning to a friend Flora was with at the time — who is a boy – and saying, “Is she your girlfriend now?” To which Flora then said, “That doesn’t even make sense to ask if you think I’m a boy.” To which the boy then said, “Oh you’re right. So, is she now your boyfriend?”

We advised Flora to go to the teacher, and I informed her that if this boy didn’t knock it off, we may have to go to school administration. She is opposed to going to the administration, and she says she did tell the teacher.

One other incident of note:

Flora has a classmate who informed her that her mother will not allow Flora to come over, nor is the classmate allowed to come to our house. Because of what her short hair signifies to this mother, which is either that Flora is lesbian or transgender, neither of which are true. I am simply appalled that an adult can treat a child in this way and make such assumptions. I have restrained myself from asking this mother’s name, because the temptation to give her a piece of my mind is STRONG.

Let me also add here: There is nothing wrong with being transgender or gay/lesbian. If Flora were either of these things, or anywhere on the spectrum of gender identity and fluidity – which, I don’t think she has strong feeling at this point, except “not a boy” – we will love her no matter what.

But this idea that people look at Flora, and see a transgender boy… is troubling to me. I am glad that transgender issues are being addressed and are out in the open these days. However, that people are making the most extreme assumption about my daughter based on her chosen hairstyle worries me a bit. They are putting her in a bucket that she doesn’t belong in. Is she in physical danger? Are there social repercussions that will be long lasting?

My daughter is (in a limited way at this point) being discriminated against because she has short hair, which makes some people think she is transgender. There are two ways to stop this: 1. Flora could grow her hair long again or 2. People can stop discriminating against transgender people. Which sounds simplistic, but is true.

I think it’s clear where I come down on this, but let me spell it out just in case: Flora could shave her head or grow her hair down to her butt. She shouldn’t be discriminated against because of what other people think of her because of how she looks.

No one should be discriminated against because of who they are or what they look like. People deserve to be treated with basic respect, dignity, and kindness. It’s not difficult, people. Be better.

Note: This post was published with Flora’s permission. My friend Daria also read it over to make sure I wasn’t being an ass. Zie gave me zir thoughts on my first couple of drafts, and pointed out perspectives I may not have considered. I am grateful for zir willingness to review my writing and give me honest feedback.

Copyright for featured image, a rainbow for my rainbow baby: hydromet / 123RF Stock Photo

19 thoughts on “My Daughter Has Short Hair, and She’s Not Transgender

  1. This is where the future of hate crimes are born. By not nipping these behaviors now they will grow and eventually you’ll have somebody spewing racial epithets in Portland or beating somebody up in Seattle because they “look gay”. And the ignorance of that parent is appalling.

    1. Agreed, and this is what I worry about. If we let people judge by appearances, we’re going backward, not forward.

  2. No parent would not allow their kids to be friends because she cut her hair. I don’t believe this happened, but I do believe you’d make something up about your kids for clicks.

    1. I do write fiction, but it usually stars werewolves and telepathic supes, not ignorant parents. You don’t have to believe me, but I have to believe Flora. And I don’t really have this blog “for clicks.” Thanks for visiting, though.

  3. Wow. Who knew that cutting her hair would be such a significant act that someone else’s mother decided she was too “something” to hang out with her daughter. Unreal. There are SO many other REALLY important things to worry about.

    1. I don’t need my daughter hanging out with shallow or judgmental people, so it probably works out that the girl said something to her. Oh well!

  4. I have had short hair for nearly all of my 50+ years. Brief, and really stupid, stints in high school and early 30s notwithstanding. If Flora wants a squad, I’m in. I agree that Flora doesn’t need to hang out with people so shallow as to base friendship on hair style.

    1. I have had short hair on and off for most of my life as well. As someone pointed out on FB, a combination of out-of-control gender expectations and the emergence of trans and gay rights seems to have triggered people into instantly judging what they don’t like. It’s ridiculous, really.

  5. Love this post. Quick question: Is there any reason you wrote “zie” and “zir” for “they” and “their”?

  6. People seem so concerned about fitting others into categories to make themselves what? More comfortable? More organized? Less cluttered?

    If we could just worry about being good humans and treating each other well, things like haircuts wouldn’t be a blip on the radar.

    *and to the person who commented that no parent would ever tell their kid they can’t be friends with someone based on their haircut, I know this happens because I’ve seen it firsthand. Because it’s not about the haircut itself but what it represents to some people.

    1. I do think it is about comfort. “Ohh, that makes me have feels I don’t like, so I’m going to reject it.” People prioritize their own comfort over treating others with dignity and respect. All I can do is rise above, and teach my children to also rise above. <3

  7. I stand in solidarity with Flora. I wore short hair until my junior year of high school, and it was also out of practicality as I was very active in sports and loved playing in the woods behind my house (ticks anyone?). I did not make a connection between my hair length and my understanding of what it meant to be a woman and grow into my womanhood. But boy oh boy that did not apply to people around me. Maybe it’s because other issues were in the news in my day, but no one made comments about my gender identity so much as they did about my sexual identity. Long after my hair grew long, high school jerks told me I was a lesbian or called me a dyke and made jokes about my best friend and I. It got around to our parents and her mother, to this day, is still confused as to the exact nature of our relationship. We’re 35.

    I’d like to tell Flora that it gets better, but rude people are going to give voice to their weird assumptions about her for the rest of her life. It happens to us all. She’s just got to go with what she likes, be the person she wants to be, and find friends and family who’ll stand with her along the way. And she can do the world a solid and turn that negativity from people into empathy for others in similar situations.

    1. I find that second paragraph to be… discouraging and infuriating in turns. No worries in terms of support from family — we’ve got Flora’s back, from her dad and me, straight down the line. But, rude people, man. They are just the worst.

  8. “She didn’t have her identity wrapped up in it.” <–This.

    I love her new short haircut and I love her spirit even more. (Also: She's lucky to have you on her side.)

    1. Thank you, Melissa! I think at this point, Flora’s identity is more about her family and her drawing than anything else. We’ve never emphasized appearance in our household (other than neat), so I don’t think my children fuss over it.

  9. Once upon a time I lived in a tiny town where the world was very circumscribed. You could cut your hair, but it had to be a clearly “girlie” haircut. Within the first semester of my freshman year in college, I got engaged, found out that my friend was screwing my fiance, that I had a degenerative genetic disease, and my fiance felt that this disease made me inappropriate for his genetically perfect Greek family and broke up with me (all within a month’s time). The curls and Gunnie Sax dresses that went to college with me didn’t fit my emotional state at all. I chopped my hair off so that I looked a bit like Billy Idol’s little sister and wore only the colors of black, grey and cobalt blue. Everyone at home including my parents assumed that I was now a lesbian. People judge on subtleties that are none of their business but don’t bother to ask.

    1. The fact that people leap to “transgender” instead of “oh, that looks so much cooler and totally appropriate for this warm weather” is stunning to me.

Leave a Reply