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HAGELIN: Straight talk about gender-benders

- - Sunday, February 17, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Cultural challenge of the week: Gender-bending confusion

For Casey Legler, fashion is about "freedom" -- the freedom to get past the "limiting" ways "we identify ourselves as a man or woman" and instead get to that "lovely place" where society does not "judge or jump to conclusions because someone wants to wear a dress or wants to wear pants."

Who is Casey?

"I am a male model at Forbes," she says. But Casey is a woman. As the first woman to model exclusively male clothes, she notes that she also looks "really fierce" in a dress. Her work is "exciting," she says, because it's an opportunity to "celebrate" gender "fluidity."

She's not the first gender-bending model. VJ Ruuska, a Finnish male who models woman's clothing, and Stav Strashko, a Ukranian-born male strutting as a "topless" female in a recent Toyota commercial, also confound gender boundaries.

So what's up with all this gender-bending nonsense?

It's the latest frontier in the culture wars.

On the one hand, who really cares what the fashion industry does? We've seen fashion gurus celebrate the drug culture, kiddie porn, kinky sex and starvation-skinny waifs. But the left is working all fronts in its attack on traditional sexual morality and the nature of men, women and the family. And gender-bending fashion both fuels and reflects our culture's growing disregard for gender truth.

Take, for example, the mom who bought her 5-year-old son a Christmas dress, because that's what he wanted to wear to Christmas dinner. Her "gender creative" son typically wears normal boy clothes when he's out in public "as a disguise" so he won't be teased and so "people will think he is all boy." But for Christmas, he wanted to dress as he -- supposedly -- really is. The troubling fact is that his mother tells him he's so "pretty" wearing the dress, and she muses how "he remind[s] me of when I was a little girl."

The problem here is that this poor, confused boy needs parents who think straight. Most of us intuitively know that it's important to affirm our child's masculinity or femininity. We don't hang dresses in a son's room or give a daughter a buzz haircut, not because we are afraid we'll be "judged" by others, but because our bodily identity means something. Our children know that we love them the way God created them (male and female), and they do not need to become someone different in order to please us. Instead, as parents, we must do a good job encouraging self-confidence and promoting healthy psyches -- including love for the person God created us to be, a reality signaled by our bodies.

How to save your family: Affirm your child's masculine or feminine identity

Every child has the desire to know why boys and girls are different, and why they don't like the same things and don't act the same way. Even hardened feminists find themselves surprised at the innate difference between boys and girls. At the same time, especially at young ages, inquisitiveness about the other sex, and all the trappings of male or female life, is typical. But that does not mean a boy who wants to try on makeup or a girl who wonders whether Daddy's razor tickles is harboring a secret desire to change identities. Answer their questions, avoid viewing simple sensory exploration through a liberal gender lens, and guide them to embrace their biological reality.

Children who persist in their desire for cross-dressing behavior need to be evaluated by a Christian psychologist or counselor for underlying issues -- they are not "transgendered" kids just trying to be themselves. (And watch out for know-nothing "professionals" who think that children should be tracked onto the transgender pathway from an early age.) According to gender-identity specialist Kenneth Zucker, when psychologists intervene to help a confused child embrace his or her biological gender, few persist in their gender-confused behavior. (Roughly 12 percent of children with strong gender confusion persist in those behaviors through adolescence.)

In an interview with NPR, Mr. Zucker noted that the goal of therapy should be to help children "understand themselves better" and figure out "what might be causing them to develop what I call a 'fantasy solution,' that being the other sex will make them happy."

Sometimes the real problem is that parents, subtly or explicitly, demonstrate preference for one gender over another. Make certain that you always affirm your child for being the unique person God created him or her to be. Tape the following Scripture verse in a place where your child can see it, and bless them by reading it aloud with them whenever possible:

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:13-16

 Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at rebecca@howtosaveyourfamily.com.