Things need to change. NOW.
A new study shows that children who do not conform to gender roles are more likely to be abused, increasing the likelihood they will have post-traumatic stress disorder by the time they're in their 20s.
Many adults are uncomfortable when a child rejects the typical gender norms, which leads to mistreatment and/or neglect. It also puts pressure on the child to be someone he or she doesn't identify with. What's worse is that statistically, it shows that children who don't conform are more likely to experience abuse such as teasing and/or being scorned from adults who know better than bullies they meet at school.
For example, like Bobby Montoya, the adorable 7-year-old transgendered child (above), who wanted to join the Girl Scouts, was pressured by other parents to conform to a typical male gender role.
Mich, a biological female who doesn't identify as a girl says:
"The messages from adults, especially my parents, were this was not how it was supposed to be. I don't think it was subtle. I would cut my hair really short and my mom would say, 'Why do you look like a boy? You can't be a boy.' An adult would say, 'Why aren't you in a dress?' They're pushing this message on you."
S. Bryn Austin, one of the study's authors, says:
"We are concerned about the health and risk of abuse and harassment targeting children who behave in a way, or express their gender in a way that's not typical. We know there's a lot of bias about how girls and boys are supposed to behave."
This leads to depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental disorder that carries on into adulthood.
The important thing is there needs to be awareness. The more parents and other adults understand about gender identity vs. gender stereotypes, the less children will suffer for being who they truly are.
Our hearts go out to all the kids and teens out there who are struggling with their identity and do not have a support system. It does get better, it will get better, just never forget who you truly are.