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. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    I followed this guy part way to work yesterday. He had a Ford 150 with a pair of 8 inch chrome plated testicles dangling by baling wire off his Reese hitch. Does that show gender confusion?

    February 20, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • um...yes

      Maybe the Ford wanted to be a Chevy.

      February 20, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    In 2000 years, I think G_d and his only Son have been ignored countless times, and peopls most generally choose thier own confessions.

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

    I love Donna, and not run away!!! 🙂

    February 20, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • um...yes

      Who the hell is Donna??

      February 20, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    Chevy chauvanist?

    February 20, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • um...yes

      No, not really. Saying maybe the Ford wanted to be a Hummer sounded wayyyyyyyy too obvious. I drive a Ford myself.

      February 20, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Lol @ um.
      Yep, it would have been a tad bit obvious!

      February 20, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"


    February 20, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jojo (R-Ohio) "The Freak"


    Hoo is Jeff? Don't even tell me you have no clue. You don't want to answer that either.

    February 20, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • um...yes

      I know you're a troll.

      February 20, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. banasy©

    Jazzzzzzz, I'm not this um...yes, although I am flattered that you think every person who can write a decent sentence *is* me.

    February 20, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. leeintulsa

    i could see how gender beyond the equipment is subject to chemical reactions, chemicals we all have to some degree. just because we have a _____, doesn't mean our chemicals are in perfect unison with everyone else who has a ______. some people got a little more of this, a little less of that.

    when we truly know what happens when people feel a way or have one inclination or another, you'll know what i'm talking about... 😉 it's just part of who we are.

    i can't wait til gender is irrelevent.

    mary, what business is it of yours what people do behind closed doors?

    February 20, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I agree with you whole post in it's entirety.

      Does that make be baaad?
      I hope so.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Portland tony

    If people are gay by choice, then they must choose to be discriminated against, choose be be violently beaten, and choose to be ostracized from friends, family and co-workers. Seems to me a no brainer?

    February 20, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. raven

    As the mother of a gay male, I can attest to the fact that these people have no' choice' in their orientation.My son was born and raised in a very small, judgmental community.The men in my family are very macho and masculine. Some are quite bigoted. He was terrified to' come out'.But, y' know, people can surprise you...the same people who he was most afraid of turned out to be his most staunch supporters. And defenders.Never ceases to amaze me how the same people who can quote scripture can be the biggest bigots.And Leein tulsa, I'm with you, my friend.Couldna said it better.And hello, m.s.!!!

    February 20, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      How are you, dearest?
      Did you get the house?
      Oh, please say you did!

      Very good post.
      Regardless of their orientation, they are beloved...except by the ones who somehow think they are "less than" whatever...
      The ones touched by the 'spirit' are often the biggest haters around.
      I don't get it.
      I really don't.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Not left vs.right-It's right vs. wrong"

    President Obama –
    Happy Presidents Day....

    February 20, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Who decides what is wrong?
      Until we get *that* right, stalemate, as usual...lol...

      February 20, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Superman

    Superman,,,, knows that godf loves his children no matter what. So if we live the life that we are happy being than would god not forgive you of your sins if you were never taught his teachings? Im a gay male just as coyote is . And i could never go through life lying to all those around me. Id rather be out and happy than be subdoed and locked up what would you prefere oh that was unfare to the straight civilians.or should i say breeders. Others do not need someone to tell them how to live there lives especially those hyprocritical religious people

    February 21, 2012 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
  13. Superman

    @raven i just came out in mid 2008, talk about scarey!! And im 50 now. Totally freaked out on it i had support onboth sides to pull me through it that night. My daughters still dont believe me that im gay . You cantnbe dad youve jad two children! So i just wont push it on them.

    February 21, 2012 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
  14. raven

    @SUPERman (and super MAN) , good thoughts your way, my brother. Hope you find that special someone to share your life with. @m.s., we didn't get the house...WAH! Back to searching and I'm none too pleased about it.text you later, k?

    February 21, 2012 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
  15. AMERICA 1st

    Gay men like to lure young men into that kind of lifestyle by telling them how glamorous it could become. They dont tell them how they could get aids and die!

    February 21, 2012 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
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