Overheard on CNN.com: Gender is complicated
Cory, age 15, is biologically female, but says he identifies himself more as a male.
February 20th, 2012
06:32 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Gender is complicated

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

A new study in the journal Pediatrics found that children who don't conform to typical gender roles (i.e. boys who act like girls or girls who act like boys) have a higher risk of suffering abuse than other children.

This wasn't a surprise to many CNN.com readers, including this guest, who said "I don't think it takes multiple Ph.D.'s and M.D.'s to figure this out. 'If you're not like the rest of us, we'll beat you up.' We learned that in elementary school."

Kids who veer from gender norms at higher risk for abuse

The article sparked some interesting discussions on gender, parenting and society's expectations for boys and girls.

JackiMaddie: "I would love and support my child no matter what, and I hope other people feel the same way. Just do the best you can as a parent to instill your values in your child, but if the child follows a different path, you should still be there for him/her. That being said, I am so relieved my daughter obviously doesn't have this problem."

But MindLikeWarp said you can't support everything your child does.

"Pretty soon we are going to say it is OK to be racist, because that is just who you are. I think parents have a responsibility to teach their children how to be able to function decently in society. I think parents should teach boys to be boys and girls to be girls. I know that isn't the PC thing to say, but you shouldn't just let kids do whatever they want. They need boundaries and rules. Society has them."

Readers also debated whether doctors were turning normal childhood behavior into a disorder.

"Seriously? I was a tomboy when I was younger. I'm not boyish anymore. I was normal then and normal now. Why is everyone making such a big deal about this? Kids like to experiment. Some kids like to play outside and get dirty, some kids like to play with dolls, some kids like blue and some kids like pink. Stop trying to paint kids as transgender!! They are just trying to grow up and understand the world. The boys in my neighborhood used to come over and we would play dress up with my dresses. It was FUN. Calm down and let kids be kids!"

Michael J. Creamer Jr.:
"In fairness, it's the children who are painting themselves to be transgender. If you read the article carefully, you will see that they are talking about issues a little more substantial than a girl playing baseball and a boy playing with a Barbie doll."

"I really hope they don't start to think that girls that like sports now have a psychological disorder. When I was a kid I loved to play with Barbies, dress up, but I also loved to go outside and play sports and play video games. I think it is healthy for kids to show typical signs of both genders. Most of my friends went through a "tomboy" phase. And from what I know, all of us are straight women. If a girl wants to play sports or a boy wants to be a dancer, let him, don't just assume he/she is gay. Gender roles are created by society.
In short, let kids be kids and have fun."

Other readers argued that sexuality and gender are separate issues.

"You people are missing the point. This is not about being homosexual. It's about how parents are STILL trying to stereotype their kids by gender – 'girls are supposed to wear pink dresses with bows in their hair, and play with dolls. Boys are supposed to wear jeans and play with trucks.' The parents get upset if the kids don't adhere to these stereotypes. It has nothing to do with sexuality."

blueduck13 said people can't be forced to accept someone who doesn't conform to gender roles.
"Personally, I could care less, but while everyone has freedom of choice, they also have consequences. If you have a Mohawk, some people might stare."

But Aucausin says it's much different from a haircut:
"Unless you have gender dysphoria it can be hard to understand. Imagine tomorrow you wake up as the opposite sex, all your friends and family have forgotten that you were ever different and now believe that you were always the opposite sex. You go to dress for the day and your wardrobe has been replaced with clothes indicative of your new sex. You must wear these clothes with your new body. You go to breakfast then school or work and everyone you know sees you as male or female even though you feel like something different. This doesn't seem like much in text, but it is hell."

What do you think? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. Im divorced and found out through extensive therapy that im actually gay i was all the time and never knew it it was buried so deeply by my mother that i never really knew what was going on but i will never regret having my girls and living life now the i


    February 20, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    Yesterday I was behind this guy driving a big Ford F-150 pick up, when I glanced down under the 4×4 box, I seen these 6" long x 3" wide chrome plated testicles hanging down almost touching the road, suspended by baling wire. Does this perhaps this man has some sort of identity crisis going on?

    February 20, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mary

    Is "gender fluidity" part of God's "intelligent design?"

    February 20, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. um...yes


    February 20, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mary

    Um... You want to give a citation of where it says that in the bible please.

    February 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • um...yes

      um...you want to show me where is doesn't? Plus, please show me passages that were not written a zillion years ago by men of a bygone era. Ty.

      February 20, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mary

    I see you have no evidence by your NOT quoting a scripture.
    Leviticus 18:22 “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable."
    Now either you produce a scripture or this discussion is over.

    February 20, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Pen#s

    Kelly st louis of RORY lane. Hey how you aaaallllll doen cowgirl? Its so nice to talk again. Hope life is good for everybody is doing well and is fine oh by the way hows that gay husband X doing? Its such a shame that when you cheat on a spouse its the children that suffer first dont you think? Im sure doug has been hurt by your childish acts its been nice so we'll speak again? Right? So hope your in good mind in life you will need it but doug will have some things to question with you

    February 20, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mary

    “‘Do not have s e x u a l relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.
    Now, you produce a scripture or this discussion is over.
    I did just post this and it was deleted thanks

    February 20, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mary

    leviticus 18:22
    now you produce a scripture or this discussion is over.

    February 20, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    @ Mary
    I'm not a christian, but doesn't that verse come from the Book of Leviticus, like Chapter 22 or something?

    February 20, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mary

    Btw, the whole Bible was written a zillion years ago silly. What are you saying by that statement?

    February 20, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • um...yes

      I MEAN, show me something that has something to do with today's human condition, as humanity has evoled considerably since then. Show me something that pertains to today's world. Show me something that has been updated to reflect the human condition NOW. Egypt wrote lots of stuff, too. Does that mean that they pertain to today? No. You WOULD beat the crap out of the child, wouldn't you? We're not talking about gay vs straight here. WeKre talking about something a little more complex than the black and white and the stark absolutes of the bible.

      February 20, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mary

    @ Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe", Yes Leviticus 18:22

    February 20, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. um...yes

    Since god has a plan, these children presumably fall within his plan. What would you do if you had a child that had these problems? Beat that child over hisgher head with your bible? This discussion necer began, as your mind slammed shut long ago. Later, hater.

    February 20, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mary

    @ Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe", What happened to the bounderies our parents use to set?
    Wouldn't you say we as a society need some?
    Wouldn't you say as God being our parent, he has set them and we have smashed them to pieces?

    February 20, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mary

    Good Night Donna. Too many clues.

    February 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • um...yes

      Who is Donna? you don't have an answer so you run away from the discussion?

      February 20, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4