(Originally Published on The Huffington Post on 2/28/2012)
A recent study led by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health has found that one in 10 children faces an elevated risk of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse due to gender nonconformity (meaning kids whose interests, pretend play, and activity choices before the age of 11 fall outside the bounds of those typically expressed by their assigned sex). As a result of the abuse, many will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by young adulthood, which can lead to a smörgåsbord of risky behaviors such as drug abuse, promiscuity, and self-harm, as well as producing physical symptoms such as chronic pain and cardiovascular problems.
Having been born one of these gender-nonconforming kids many years ago, I know firsthand the experience described in the study. These new findings suggest that even if I had not been birthed into a fundamentalist Christian cult, my parents would still have had their work cut out for them with regard to keeping me safe. (I plan to add this new info to my ever-growing parental forgiveness file as soon as I finish writing this.) Sad as it may be, from the moment I took my first breath, I was something of a moving target in this world.
Though I have identified as a cisgender male my whole life, as a kid I always enjoyed playing with dolls, making jewelry, singing, acting, and dancing — all things considered “girly” by society and, at the very least, by the mean kids I grew up around in rural Nebraska. I gravitated toward girls my own age back then, not because I wanted to be one of them but because they were nice to me, and we had the most in common. The other boys took note of these similarities, and they teased me relentlessly.
I was a sweet, sensitive kid who didn’t like sports, which made me the target of much bullying and harassment from kids my own age all the way until college… but this isn’t breaking news. Everybody already knows that we faggy kids get our asses kicked as we grow up, and most of us don’t need a Harvard study to tell us what the long-term effects of that abuse are, because we are still living them out to this day. But hey, it gets better, right?
I can’t tell you how many times in my life I have heard the argument that people turn gay as a result of Read the rest of this entry »