The question of a kid's gender is usually not much of a question at all, and as he or she grows up, the sense of identity, behavior, difference, and expectation all take shape. A very small number of kids are born gender-indeterminate, and the old school practices of "correcting" ambiguous genitalia via surgery are, for the most part, falling away.
This New York Times article isn't about those kids, though. It's about gender-atypical or gender-variant behavior and feelings that manifest themselves as early as age three. Rather than forcing gender identities on such kids, some parents, doctors, researchers and educators are trying to support and protect them until they can figure out their gender issues for themselves:
The B.’s thought long and hard about what they had observed in their son. They have carefully choreographed his life, monitoring new playmates, selecting a compatible school, finding sympathetic parents in a babysitting co-op. Nevertheless, Ms. B. said, “there is still the stomach-clenching fear for your kid.”Supporting Boys or Girls When The Line Isn't Clear [nyt via dt reader ponch]
It is indeed heartbreaking to hear a child say, as J. did recently, “It feels like a nightmare I’m a boy.”
The adjustment has been gradual for Mr. B., a 43-year-old public school administrator who is trying to stop calling J. “our little man.” He thinks of his son as a positive, resilient person, and his love and admiration show. “The truth is, is any parent going to choose this for their kid?” he said. “It’s who your kid is.”
Previously, 06/2004: New Approaches for Treating Indeterminate-Gender Children