Parenting a Gender-Creative Child

Most parents wouldn’t think twice if their little girl was fascinated with dolls, dresses and pink nail polish — but what if these requests were coming from their three-year-old boy? Such was the case for parents Lori and Matt Duron, whose second-born son, six-year-old C.J., is interested in things typically associated with the opposite sex and has been for more than three years. Lori and Matt grappled with how to handle their son’s behavior and ultimately, decided to support him in his gender nonconformity.

“He knows he’s a boy who only likes girls’ things and wants to be treated like a girl,” Lori explains.

Individuals like C.J. are often labeled with the medical term gender dysphoria — a conflict between a person’s physical gender and the gender he or she identifies as — however, this has not been confirmed in C.J.'s case.

“I prefer gender-creative,” Lori says. "I don’t feel like he’s gender-dysphoric. He’s not confused. He’s a boy. He’s fond of his boy body. It’s society’s idea of what a boy is that he’s uncomfortable with.”

Lori explains that C.J. may have up to a 75 percent chance of being gay or transgender when he matures. "To us, it doesn’t matter,” she says. “He’s still our son, or he may be our daughter. We’ll love him. He’s our child, and that’s all that matters.”

Lori and Matt explain their evolution of acceptance regarding their son’s atypical interests.

Gender therapist Darlene Tando explains the difference between transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals.

Matt and Lori reveal the most painful parenting struggles of raising their gender-creative child.

“We’ve been reported to Child Protective Services,” Lori says. “Someone called the police on us. A lot of them make the claim that we’re forcing this, that we really want a daughter, and we’re trying to turn him into a daughter, and that this is some sort of child abuse or some sort of weird sexual fantasy or perversion.”

Lori also addresses some of the hate mail she and Matt have received. “People don’t understand the distinct differences between sex, gender and sexuality,” Lori says. “This is a gender issue. This has nothing to do with his sexuality. He’s not a sexual being.”

“One of the biggest things is he’s not in distress,” Matt explains. “We’ve heard about stories of children who were born male, and they feel like they’re female, and they’re self-mutilating. But, this is a happy child who loves being a boy; he just loves girls’ things.”

Lori adds, “I really don’t want our kids to be hiding a part of themselves." She continues, “I want our home to be the absolute safest place. We’re not going to be his first bullies. He doesn’t have to go somewhere else to feel safe. It’s here — home is that place.”

Read an excerpt from Lori's book Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son.