Does Pink Nail Polish a Trans Child Make?

Written by Jillian Ashley Blair Ivey. Posted in Featured, Lifestyle

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Published on April 14, 2011 with 6 Comments

J.Crew, maker of clothes you can wear to work, finds itself under water this week for an email advertisement that featured president and creative director Jenna Lyons painting her son’s toenails pink.  The caption on the photo reads: “Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”

It seems that much of the internet is mad at Lyons for what one person cited by Fox News called: “blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children.”

Okay, folks. Two things here:

1. Gender norms are only “norms” because somebody decided they are. If you don’t tell children what they’re supposed to be doing or how they’re supposed to be acting toward traditionally “male” or “female” toys and hobbies, they’ll just play with what they want to play with. When I was a little girl, I played with my Transformers as much as my Barbies. I watched Formula 1 racing with my dad while wearing princess dresses and could tell you every Ferrari model made in the 1960s shortly before busting out with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” I was obsessed with dinosaurs … and kittens. I was every inch the little girl, but nobody ever told me that I couldn’t do something because “that’s for boys.” And guess what? I turned out just fine—and, take note, reactionary idiots out there making this whole thing into a much bigger story than it actually is—I turned out completely heterosexual. It’s entirely possible that Lyons’ son, Beckett, will grow up to be a heterosexual man, too, with no feelings that he was born into the wrong body. It could well be that he’s a child who happens to like pink and happens to like spending quality time with his mom, even if that quality time involves pedicures. Guess what? Grown, heterosexual men get pedicures, too. And women (oh, the horror!) will sometimes wear pants. We’re all cross-dressing to some degree.

2. So what if Beckett does someday want to be called Becky? It will be his choice to become a “her,” not anyone else’s. Back in the day, all little boys wore dresses until they were between four and seven years old, and it’s not like there was a tidal wave of trans-women during the nineteenth century because of it. Parents dressing their sons as girls had, it turns out, absolutely no effect on how their kids would grow up. What makes a person feel he or she was born into the wrong gender is something much deeper, more personal, and (arguably) chemical. It’s nature, not nurture. And whether a person discovers this about him or herself at five or fifty, we owe it to that person, in the name of humanity if not “Christian” morality, to accept him or her as-is. It’s sometimes uncomfortable, and often confusing, but it’s the right thing to do.

The wrong thing to do, however, is to punish a mother—or her child—for who they are.

About Jillian Ashley Blair Ivey

Jillian Ashley Blair Ivey is one person with four names. There's a story behind that, but she won't bore you with it. Just call her Jill. Jill is one of KeyPulp's five founding editors. She works in marketing and communications by day and attends graduate school by night. She fully intends to make this bio more interesting after KeyPulp's beta phase is over. | 

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  • http://twitter.com/krisis Peter Marinari

    It’s silly that boys are expected not to care about their appearance in the way girls are. Having the power to change how you look is an important part of establishing your own identity, and kids don’t have a lot of say in that regard. Nail polish happens to be one of the most accessible – and, ultimately, gender-neutral (compared to makeup or jewelry) – ways to accomplish that.

    Add to that: pink is neon bright, which kids (even boys) love (check out how many superhero comic books in the 80s and 90s had prominent pink coloring on the cover).

    End of story. Unless you are a homophobic, gender-norms-adhering moron and/or work for Fox News.

  • BigSis

    You go Jillian!

  • http://keypulp.com joeross

    Fair and balanced all the way.

  • The Brain, not Pinky

    A mom painting a boy’s nails pink isn’t exactly the same thing as a girl choosing to play with toys with no parental influence into that choice. Even the wording shows that this is all about the mom, and that’s the real problem with parenting these days.

    • http://keypulp.com joeross

      First, thanks for the comment and for reading KeyPulp! I personally think the ad is all about the mom because she is presumably the person in the image that spends money at J. Crew. Also, while I can’t speak for Jill, I think that what toys a little kid has is a function of what their parents approve of and probably buy for them, so I’m not sure it’s wholly lacking in parental influence. As for the problem with parenting these days, I’m completely unqualified to comment on that since I’m not one (yet).

  • Mickrivera

    #1: Transvestite children are not transgendered children.

    #2: As John Stewart pointed out, Chuck Liddell (inarguably one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time) used to wear toenail polish to the ring for good luck.

    #3: Bret “The Hitman” Hart (inarguably one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time) wore a pink outfit to the ring to prove how tough he was.

    #4: I’m pretty sure that, for men, getting a pedicure bars you from the hetero club for life. Even the penalty for gay sex isn’t that severe.