In an interview with the U.K. Daily Mail published Thursday, actress Charlize Theron revealed she’s raising her adopted son as a girl, apparently since he started to identify as female when he was three.
The piece confirmed a long-standing rumor, as the South African actress’ son, Jackson, has been photographed “wearing skirts and dresses and with long, braided hair.”
If what Theron told the Mail is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, she’s not exactly trans-parent-of-the-year material.
“Yes, I thought she was a boy, too,” Theron said. “Until she looked at me when she was three years old and said: ‘I am not a boy!’
“So there you go! I have two beautiful daughters who, just like any parent, I want to protect and I want to see thrive.
“They were born who they are and exactly where in the world both of them get to find themselves as they grow up, and who they want to be, is not for me to decide,” she added.
“My job as a parent is to celebrate them and to love them and to make sure that they have everything they need in order to be what they want to be.
“And I will do everything in my power for my kids to have that right and to be protected within that.”
There are so many things that are suspect about this. At some point, your children can’t necessarily decide things on their own, particularly if this was just one instance where Jackson looked at her and declaimed he wasn’t a boy. At a practical level, this is a bit like your kid telling you he’s an astronaut, so you decide to send him into space. Thankfully, most of us don’t have access to a Soyuz capsule, but clothing and toys for both genders are readily available to any parent.
At a psychological level, this isn’t exactly great parenting either. According to KQED, the University of California San Francisco’s Child and Adolescent Gender Center Clinic says they’ve actually “socially transitioned” — which is to say, help treat children as if they’re the opposite gender without pharmacological or surgical interventions — kids as young as three.
However, the director of the UCSF center said that the children they treat are generally “persistent, consistent, and insistent” when it comes to their gender. Again, I’m reading the context of the interview, but Theron doesn’t exactly make it sound like this was any of those three things.
Furthermore, studies have shown that the vast majority of children who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria grow out of it by the time they reach adolescence. That means social transitioning of the type carried out at UCSF could be profoundly counterproductive and damaging, particularly if the child in question has to re-adjust to their biological gender during the labile teenage years.
But then, I’m not the parent here and I don’t know the pertinent details. So what, then, do I know? That parents are supposed to set the rules.
They say when a child goes to bed, when they get up, what they eat — in fact, when their child is three, the parents pretty much control almost every aspect of his or her life. Yes, your children get some amount of choice, but only within certain bounds. They can decide whether they want to watch “Peppa Pig” or “Paw Patrol,” but not “Pulp Fiction.”
Yet, we’re supposed to believe that gender is one of the only areas in which parents aren’t supposed to intervene in any way, that children not only have a firm grasp on whether they’re transgender at the age of three but also a grasp on the psychological concerns regarding social transitioning at that age — something that social scientists don’t have a particularly great grasp on. To believe all of these things is sheer insanity.
Even by the most liberal standards, this isn’t a situation that society ought to be cosigning — no matter what the prevailing theories might be.
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