Back in June, our 10-year-old attended an event. It was Pride Week, so they were wearing a trans flag as a cape, had their shoes painted in the colours of the pansexual and trans flags, and had tiny pan and trans flags painted on their cheeks.
An adult at the event asked them about the flag on their back and the flags on their cheeks. When they explained pansexuality and transgender, the adult responded with something like, “Aren’t you a bit too young to decide something like that?”
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard someone make a statement like this. This line of questioning perpetuates the ideas that being LGTBQ+ is a choice, that everyone is cisgender and heterosexual as a default, and that every other sexual and gender identity is abnormal and broken.
When a 4-year-old cis girl says, “I’m a girl.”, no one questions it. No one expresses concerns that she’s too young to determine what her gender identity is.
When a 9-year-old straight boy says, “I like girls.”, no one questions it. No one expresses concerns that he’s too young to determine what his sexual orientation is.
But that’s because we see cisness and straightness as normal. From the moment our children are born, we expect that they will be straight and cis. We expect our children who we label as boys will always be boys and will like girls. We expect our children who we label as girls will always be girls and will like boys.
And when they do, we think nothing of it. In fact, we see it as so normal, that when they make statements like “I’m a girl.” or “I like girls.”, we don’t view it as expressing gender and sexuality.
If you think that your 10-year-old girl is old enough to express that she’s a girl and likes boys, then surely my 10-year-old can be old enough to express that they’re not a girl and that they like all genders.