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. AMERICA 1st

    If a male chooses to fix itself into a female, its still a male. The reverse is also true!

    February 21, 2012 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. hamsta

    Whats so confusing?you either have an inny or an outy.you are either heterosexual or homosexual.there is no such thing as bisexual-thats just a homosexual.

    February 21, 2012 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Muse

      Hamsta, this is your opinion. Unless you can show me a citation that proves otherwise, bise xuality is real. There are many people who are. You know..."swing both ways"? They don't care about gender.

      February 21, 2012 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
    • LAO9091

      You are either one or the other. People who choose both are just selfish and want their cake and eat it too. Gay or straight. Pick one.

      February 22, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  3. Deborah Evans

    Also if there is molestation of either parent or both it will effect a childs orintation.

    February 21, 2012 at 5:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Muse

      Can you provide docu mentation to back this up?

      February 21, 2012 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
  4. hamsta

    evidence people choose to be gay-read the first comment by the sodomite at the top.i will also accept that as evidence that head shrinks create more problems than they fix.

    February 21, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      That's a post, not evidence.

      February 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • geekgirl42

      "Shrinks" don't cause the problems, society does. If we were all a little less judgmental about people, and what they look like, what they wear, and whether we perceive them as "different", we'd all be better off.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Superman

    @raven thank you for the support. Im living my life as i should so im happy. Thats what matters most

    February 21, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Superman

    @raven thank you for the support. Im living my life as i should so im happy. Thats what matters most RAVEN thank you once again!!!!

    February 21, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Superman

    What seems off in this world is the FACT that hamsta excepts lesbians but does not except gay males. So what it he scared of? Is it himself or what he might find out is the truth?

    February 21, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Superman

    With out being mean on my part this is called a HYPROCRITE! Face its a two faced snake eye thing that he believes in

    February 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Superman

    @GEEKGIRL42. Your so right it is how society treats others ,do to misunderstanding its to bad isnt it? Ive been through so much my whole life because it was suppressed by my mother! But she did not win it was the root to about 95% of my problems in my life . And she still acts like she did nothing wrong sad ha? Thank you girl your a seeetheart GEEKGIRL42

    February 21, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. fernace

    I can't wait to live in a society where every 1 is accepted for who & what we are! Not who & what some "moral majority" thinks is "correct" or "normal"! If the world would be more accepting & tolerant, it could lead to all sorts of inclusiveness, maybe even world peace! I doubt I'll live to see this "fantasy", but I wish it for my nieces & nephew!!

    February 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. justsayin

    We live in a world that people are inclined to judge me more about what happens in the bedroom between my wife of 9 years and myself than ANY other character trait that I possess. That, in and of itself speaks volumes of who in the world lives in perversion... My wife and I raise three children together, attend church, have BBQ's out by our pool, enjoy taking our boat out on the weekends...Oh...and we are gay!

    February 22, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. Dylin

    If you don't want to be the other gender, then don't. If you do, go for it!(:

    Why is it a big deal if it isn't you living in the wrong body?

    February 22, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Maria

    She is just a lesbian! is all !

    February 23, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Maria

    I am so sick and tired of all this baloney ,when I grow up I never so something like this,a lesbian was a lesbian a gay was a gay ,now is all in the media .This is all about medical resources way to make more money ,everyone get a piece of it! dr's, the pharmacy,the drugs the hospitals everyone get something is all about politics and greed !

    February 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. latinamericangirl

    Why do so many people care who other people are sleeping with?

    February 25, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
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