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