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How princess culture made my daughter question my gender identity

When we found out we were having a girl, we expected to raise a tomboy as our parents had raised us. Instead, we’re raising a princess. We are a bit out of our league and she has some questions.

We read her stories from infancy about having two moms. We talked about it a lot. We let her name us mommy and mama. We taught her the words gay and lesbian and told her all about her sperm donor. I hand-made her Halloween costume so she could be a rainbow. We fed her tofu, and she liked it. We felt prepared as same-sex parents. That is until princess culture entered our lives.

“Mommy, are you a boy?”

We totally prepared our daughter to have two moms, but she didn’t necessarily feel prepared to have two moms who look like us. We don’t look like Disney princesses. In fact, we look a bit more like the prince. Especially if the prince is wearing Converse high tops, skinny jeans, and a hoodie.

My mom tells me I loved fancy dresses as a kid. I don’t believe her. I remember my brothers wore pants and sneakers to church for Easter and I had to wear a dress and fancy shoes. I hated it. Now my daughter only wears fancy shoes. And tells me they work just fine for climbing. She chooses skirts and dresses by how well they twirl. She loves fancy. She loves princesses.

“No, I’m not a boy. Do you think I am?”

“I don’t know. You have short hair like a boy. And you don’t wear dresses.”

As a baby, we dressed her in a mix of gender-neutral and over-the-top pink (because grandmothers). As soon as she could dress herself, she made her choice clear. Pants were ditched for tights. She chose fancy. She chose to be a princess. How do two butch lesbian moms raise a fancy daughter? We felt a bit out of our league.

“Some girls have short hair. Some boys have long hair, but you already know that.”

She rolled her eyes at my answer, done with the conversation. She knows that kids don’t live by gender rules. Certainly not in our neighborhood, at least. But grown-ups? Grown-ups usually look a certain way. And that certain way is different from what she sees here.

“Yeah, I know. But I’m going to draw you in a dress anyway. Because you wore one when you were little like me.”

“Okay, but make sure you draw me with a sad face because I never liked it!”

We’re still working on it.

Read more on gender identity and princess culture

Building a better princess role model
Tomboy or girly girl?
Child’s gender-bending Halloween costume sparks debate

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