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Packaging Boyhood

I've mentioned before the book and accompanying blog called Packaging Girlhood, which examines the (often detrimental and dangerous) messages girls in our society are getting from product marketing and media. Now, the authors have begun a new project to look at the situation from the other point of view, called, predictably, Packaging Boyhood.

In the process of raising a daughter, I've definitely realized more than I ever had before about the assumptions and expectations our society unreasonably associates with being female - but it also opened my eyes to the baggage with which we saddle our boys. And, honestly, I don't think the issues of raising boys in gender-biased ways even get discussed with the same depth that issues with girls do. I know parents who would let their daughters play baseball or bulldoze with play trucks ten times over before they would let their sons play with dolls or toy kitchens. A girl who exhibits boy-like traits is a tomboy - a boy who takes on qualities generally associated with girls will be labeled with some derogatory version of "gay." Sometimes I think the box into which we've put boys' identities is more constricting and inflexible than the girls' - and all the more damaging because it's rarely talked about.

The Packaging Boyhood authors are asking for help in a variety of ways: emailed articles or stories about raising boys in our media-saturated culture, survey or responses, or participating in focus groups. Visit their website to find out more.

Gender Reassignment, Disorders & Taxes

Reason magazine's blog recently posted an item about gender reassignment not being accepted by the IRS as legitmate medical expenses, which also led them to link to selections from contributing editor Deirdre McClosky 's 1999's memoir about her life and her own reassignment. It's an interesting account, and points out the double standard to which those seeking reassignment were often subjected:

Donald had complained to Blue Cross: "The DSM-IV [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] you rely on calls transsexuality a 'disorder,' and, unusually among such 'disorders,' this one has a cure--surgical, including facial surgery. But then you won't pay for it. You can't have it both ways. Either it's a personal choice, in which case the psychiatrists should butt out, or it's a disorder, in which case medical insurance should pay for the cure."