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Category: Lessons for my kids

On dealing with criticism and pattern arguments

Someone on tumblr suggested that it was not ideal to answer criticism with “I’m a terrible person.” Someone else said, “But I say that because I feel that badly about myself.” Someone else suggested that was still manipulative and not a good thing to do. 

Okay, life lesson time (or, “How to accept criticism like a rational adult and avoid pattern arguments when other people pull this nonsense.”)

When I was in my late teens and early 20s, I kept getting involved with people who would say, “Oh, I’m a bad person” any time I brought up ANYTHING that was the least bit of a disagreement.

Like, “Please don’t leave my X on the floor” would get, “Oh, I’m a horrible person!”

HERE’S WHY THIS IS A HUGELY PROBLEMATIC BEHAVIOR, and if you think I’m calling you out and you think you’re about to shut down, take a breath, remember that this is about learning, and keep reading.

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Understanding Gender: A Guide for Kids

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When a baby is born, the first thing everyone wants to know is, “Is it a boy or a girl?” Even during pregnancy, parents often have an ultrasound scan, to look at a baby’s body and find out whether their baby has “boy parts” or “girl parts” before the child is born.

But what defines “boy” or “girl” doesn’t have a lot to do with the parts people have. Different groups of people define what it means to be male or female in many different ways. And people get messages from a lot of places about what it means to be male or female. The very idea that there are only male and female to choose from is not the same everywhere. Some cultures expect there to be three, five, or even more genders.

So what happens when someone tells you “boys are like this” or “girls are like that?” and “this and that” don’t seem to match up well to who you are? There are a lot of different ways that people respond to this feeling.

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Creating a Safe and Welcoming School Environment

For All Students, Including Trans and Nonbinary Kids

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Gender is something that traditionally has been taught in very simple ways. Penis means boy. Vulva means girl. Men are taller and stronger. Women are curvier and can get pregnant. People can be either male or female.

When someone who does not fit these rules joins or reveals themself to a group that has been taught these rules from early childhood, it creates a fundamental friction for some people, which essentially boils down to a feeling that, “This isn’t right, this person isn’t following the rules.”

But the rules are wrong. Gender is not simple. Gender is a social construct. So is binary sex. Physical sexual characteristics can run such a huge gamut that there is often as much variation within a “sex” as there is between sexes. There are many individuals who simply do not have bodies that line up well with our basic assumption that XY means male with penis and scrotum and XX means female with vagina and uterus and breasts. Chromosome variations exist, ranging from Turner’s Syndrome (single X) to almost any variation of XXY, XYY and other duplications. Androgen resistance can make someone with XY chromosomes appear female by normative standards. Some babies are born with truly ambiguous genitalia, which in the past has been “treated” with surgical gender reassignment at birth, though the thinking on that is changing and many parents are deciding to let children decide later.

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Rule Number One

We need to talk. I know we’ve probably not met and we’ve never said word one to each other online because I filter the hell out of my Facebook and you probably don’t go to Tumblr because it’s incomprehensible and I usually don’t get into…

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Writing advice

So I’ve been delving into the strange world of Tumblr. I said for years I didn’t understand it. Then I got into the Merlin fandom, started poking around, realized that no one understood Tumblr, and started using it a lot. So this floated across my…

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Teaching consent

Someone recently posted for discussion an idea they’d heard (not agreed with) that “Guys are the gas and girls are the brakes”. This was an infuriating concept on pretty much every level, but got me to thinking about the messages we send kids and what…

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My leather jacket

When I was 19, I lived in a mediocre part of southeast Portland. I was attending classes downtown and taking the bus home at night. I was young, pretty, and had a number of scary moments when strange men would follow me off the bus.…

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