This viral letter about being gender non-conforming is the heartwarming read we all deserve

Jasmine Andersson April 2, 2018
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Kids can be a bit of a liability.

Although they mean well, the level of their curiosity knows no bounds and can result in awkward public moments that nobody knows how to account for.

That’s why Jacob Tobia, who is gender non-conforming, decided to write an open letter to address how kids stare at the way he is dressed in public.

“Dear Parents of America or Anywhere Else: As a gender-nonconforming person, I get a lot of attention — both wanted and unwanted — anytime I walk around in public,” wrote the writer.

Although the cries from the children can be somewhat unsettling, it is in fact, Tobia writes, the manner in which the parents handle their children’s remarks that can make it so hurtful.

“Parents of the world, I’d like to suggest a better paradigm for handling this situation when it inevitably arises again. The next time your child turns to you and says, “Look! That boy is wearing lipstick!” or “That girl is wearing a bowtie!” don’t shut down the conversation by telling them not to talk about strangers,” he wrote.

“Instead, try answering the question that they’re really asking; try talking to them about the beautiful diversity of gender expression in our world.”

“I promise it’s not that hard. You could say “Yes, Johnny, sometimes boys do wear lipstick and that is perfectly okay. You can wear lipstick too if you want!” Or you could say, “Why yes, Sarah, she is wearing a bowtie. Girls and boys can both wear bowties. Would you like one?”

It’s clear in the letter that Jacob is proud and comfortable with being gender non-confirming – and hopes that in recognition of his confidence and peace with himself, parents can teach their children that gender is most certainly not a binary.

“So, parents, while it may be rude to talk about strangers, I’m gonna go ahead and give your kids a pass. I am fine with your children talking about me in public, as long as you’re willing to talk about me in public too.

The next time you see me standing on the subway in a pair of heels or strutting poolside in a purple lip and your child says something about it, I give you full permission to use me as a teaching opportunity.”

Related topics: gender fluid, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, Jacob Tobia

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