This sort of thing tends to confuse the public and parents alike, and has been known to elicit a sort of gay panic among parents who assume this behavior is the harbinger of some serious outing to come. But as mentioned in the same article, researchers say, the behavior of very young children may not be a strong predictor of their adult sexual orientation. “Even when the child has extremely gender variant behavior at 4, it doesn’t necessarily mean the child will be gender variant at 10 or 15,” said Dr. Edgardo J. Menvielle, who directs the Gender and Sexuality Psychosocial Programs at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. “It’s possible they will remain who they are and they may also change in a variety of ways.”
So the message to parents is to relax if you can, and display a certain amount of confidence, resolve and fortitude for the benefit of your child and the wider community. This might be best represented by author James Braly’s monologue about his son Oliver’s desire for a pink bicycle (listen here). We have much to learn from our children’s innocence and curiosity, and trying to shield them from ridicule and move them swiftly toward conformity might not be the best path. What has your experience been with this issue of unconventional gender behavior? Do you have a gut reaction to it? How can our society realistically become more accepting of such exploration?