This is an issue that has been bothering me recently because the guys at the kid's school -- and I'm talking young guys, like 9 and 10 year old guys, sometimes 8 year old guys -- have been giving her shit about her refusal to perform her gender sufficiently to assuage their burgeoning masculine egos.
About a year ago, sick of hair that got in her face and eyes and had to be combed and styled every morning, she requested a "boy cut." If that's what you want, I said, and we cut her hair as short as a boy's, a style that looks very cute on her. With the way she dresses, in jeans and thermal shirts, or plain teeshirts, she does, however, look very much like a very cute (long-eyelashed) boy, and waitresses, checkers, and clerks frequently mistake her for one.
HOWEVER: she's been at this same school since she was five, as have most of the other 81 students. It's not like they don't know she's a girl. Their claims that they "can't tell" she's a girl, that she's confusing them, cut no ice with me.
"They keep saying they think I'm a boy," she tells me. "They keep asking why I look like a boy."
"They keep saying," I interpret for her, "that they want you to wear a skirt and long hair and shoes you can't run in. Why do you think that is?"
"I tell them I'm a girl and I look like this," she says, "so this is how girls look."
"They want you in the girl box," I explain, "so that they can feel that they're clearly in the boy box. Why do you suppose they need that so much? What's up?"
"I'm not growing my hair long," she says. "I'm not wearing a dress. Or those shoes. They're stupid."
"Sing, sister," I say, and we bump fists.