Understanding Gender with Dr. Alex Iantaffi

A generation ago, few people thought much about understanding gender.

Then, gender seemed simple and straightforward: boy or girl, male or female.

Things are different today. Merriam-Webster declared they the 2019 word of the year, and there’s increasing recognition of the fact that gender is not strictly binary.

What does this have to do with boys? Well, our boys are living in a time when it’s okay to openly discuss and think about gender. Many of our boys have peers who self-identify as gender-fluid or genderqueer — and even if they don’t have personal friends or acquaintances who are navigating the gender continuum, our sons are growing up in the world in which they (and we) can’t assume a person’s gender based on physical appearance or anything else. Also: some of us are learning that children we pegged as our daughters might actually be our sons.

For many parents (and teachers) — who grew up in times and places where gender wasn’t discussed or pondered but assumed — this “new” reality can be a bit confusing. But as Alex Iantaffi tells us, gender fluidity has been a part of human experience for millennia.

“Gender creativity has always existed across time and space,” says Dr. Iantaffi, a licensed marriage and family therapist, parent and author of numerous books about gender. “But at some point in modern science, we have developed this idea of a gender binary and now we think that’s ‘normal’ and ‘natural.'”

This is a must-listen episode for modern parents who are interested in understanding gender.

In this episode, Jen, Janet & Alex discuss:
  • Real-life pandemic parenting
  • All the terms: LGBTQ+, LGBTQIA, LGBTQ2S, cisgender, trans, non-binary, pansexual, gender fluid, intersex, heteronormative
  • The difference between gender & sexuality
  • Is the internet responsible for gender curiosity?
  • Gender creativity throughout history
  • How to support a child who is questioning gender
  • What to do if your boy tells you he’s a girl
  • Inclusive language
  • Protecting a gender-nonconforming child in the larger world
  • Harassment of trans, nonbinary and LGBTQ childre
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

alexiantaffi.com — Alex’s online home

Gender Stories — Alex’s podcast

Gender Reveal –– another podcast, recommended by Alex

Life Isn’t Binary: On Being Both, Beyond and In-Between, by Alex Iantaffi and Meg-John Barker

How to Understand Your Gender: A Practical Guide to Exploring Who You Are, by Alex Iantaffi and Meg-John Barker

Why Inclusive Sex Ed is So Important — article by Jen

Additional Resources Recommended by Alex:

Sorted: A Memoir of Growing Up, Coming Out, and Finding My Place (A Transgender Memoir), by Jackson Bird

Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of An American Family, by Amy Ellis Nutt

Transforming Families Minnesota – a a community for transgender, gender non-conforming and questioning youth and their families

PFLAG – America’s first and largest organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people, their parents and families

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