Parenting Transgender Children
Jean Malpas draws for me what a mother once drew for him: something she called a “gender cookie cutter.” It’s a blobby gingerbread person on which various currently understood components of gender are mapped. There’s biological gender, a matter of chromosomes and genitals, indicated with a circle around the gingerbread crotch. There’s gender style, sometimes called gender expression: a person’s preferred self-presentation in matters such as play and dress and gait and speech pattern. This has been indicated by a circle encompassing the whole body. Next there’s sexual orientation, or romantic attraction to others, assigned to the heart. And finally there’s gender identity, the innate sense of being male or female regardless of biology or style or sexual interest. For this, Malpas surprisingly circles the brain. Some theories now suggest that the prenatal environment renders the brain a “gendered” organ. In most people, brain gender matches biological gender.