shiloh jolie-pitt and the gender police

can we talk about shiloh for a moment? yes, i do mean angelina jolie and brad pitt’s four-year-old, not that movie about the dog that made me cry as a kid. for months, celebrity gossip mags have been in an uproar over shiloh’s – gasp – short hair, boys’ clothes, and reported preference for male names and pronouns.

the media has milked this shit for all it’s worth, calling it a “shocking transformation” and insisting that angelina is a bad parent, pushing her own agenda, and harming and manipulating her kid. one life & style cover claims that angelina is “forcing shiloh’s obsession with being a boy.”

seriously?

think for just a minute about all the gender-variant kids being forced into gender norms by their parents. think about the female-assigned children forced against their will into itchy dresses on easter, and the male-assigned kids who are called sissies and punished for wearing their sisters’ lip gloss. think of all the trans, queer, and gender-non-conforming adults with painful childhood stories of being forced into genders that weren’t right for them. those parents, not angelina, are the ones harming their children.

we should all be so lucky as to have a parent like angelina, who says that shiloh cried over having long hair and asked her to cut it. so what did she do? she cut it. she respected her child’s wishes and happiness.

i’m not the only one who thinks the panic over shiloh’s gender is ridiculous. but all the defenses of shiloh i’ve seen just reinforce the fact that in our culture, a little “girl” dressed in “boy’s” clothes is still a lot less threatening than the other way around (can you imagine the shitstorm that would arise over one of angelina’s sons insisting on wearing dresses?). people are happy to offer up stories of “tomboy” relatives or friends of theirs who grew up to be perfectly normal, feminine, heterosexual women.

thomas beatie, the guy who made headlines for being THE FIRST TRANS MAN EVER TO GIVE BIRTH, was even featured in life & style assuring the public that “unless shiloh identifies as male, she is not transgender.” (of course, the quote from thomas was accompanied by his previous name and a pre-transition picture, because trans people are incomprehensible unless we can be pinned to the genders we were assigned.)

well, you know what? transgender is an umbrella term. identifying as male is not the only way for a female-assigned person to be transgender. moreover, shiloh is four years old. who’s to say if shiloh is transgender or not? why does it matter? shiloh could grow up to be a trans guy. or a butch dyke. or a straight woman who likes to wear doc martens and work on cars. or any combination of the above. the only voice missing from this “debate” is shiloh’s – because the poor kid is four. leave shiloh alone.

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About Ira Sass

Ira Sass is a mid-twenties, queer, white, transmasculine, secular-raised jew from new england. He feels pretentious calling himself a writer and activist (as well as writing in third person) but is going to do it anyway. He enjoys eating burritos, single-parenting his crazy cat, and dancing to early ’90s jams.
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3 Responses to shiloh jolie-pitt and the gender police

  1. Otr says:

    When I think about how there are some trans kids who will never go through the wrong puberty, it boggles my mind. I didn’t know about this at all. Thanks for writing about it!

  2. Tucker says:

    It’s a sensible use of her older brother’s hand-me-downs.

  3. Dreki says:

    I love that only binary people are allowed to be transgender. Way to go, Beatie, binarism and catering to the public and (if Shiloh really does prefer male pronouns) and misgendering people is the way to go!

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