Why is it that young girls are so often encouraged to play sports, be tomboys, or run for president, but young boys are rarely encouraged to play with dolls, embrace femininity, or become stay-at-home dads? It’s an often overlooked double standard in today’s society, and many men say they find it oppressive.
In Orange County, California, 8-year-old CJ Duran plays with dolls, wears skirts, and adores the color pink. While CJ loves playing with girly toys and wearing heeled sandals, it may come as a surprise to many to learn that CJ is a boy. He identifies himself as gender non-conformist, meaning that he still prefers masculine pronouns and is not transgender, but simply prefers the societally-defined “feminine” things in life. With unwavering support from his parents, CJ is redefining what it means to be a young boy in the modern world. Their acceptance, however, is not universal.
Field notes: Shifting gender rolesWhy is it that young girls are so often encouraged to play sports, be tomboys, or run for president, but young boys are never rarely encouraged to play with dolls, embrace femininity, or become stay-at-home dads? It’s an often overlooked double standard in today’s society, and many men say they find it oppressive.
“We’ve had people say that we’re playing God. And we’ve had friends and family who have just unfriended us on Facebook and never talked to us again,” says Lori Duran, CJ’s mother. “We’ve had friends say that they’re no longer comfortable with their kids playing with our kids.”
When CJ first decided that he preferred “girly stuff” over “boy stuff”, Lori went online to do some research. When she realized that there were very few resources for parents who were learning to raise gender-nonconforming children, she was inspired to start her own blog, Raising my Rainbow. While embracing and documenting CJ’s journey has led the Duran’s to experience some alienation in their community, their journey has been inspiring to many.
The Duran’s are not alone in their quest to redefine gender norms. Full Frame contributor Sandra Hughes examined how traditional gender roles are being challenged in the most unconventional ways.
Follow Raising my Rainbow on Twitter: @RaisingRainbow