Frozen Reproductive “Products”: Who Has the Right to Use Them?

A couple of years ago I wrote a post on “Reproductive Options,” in which I discussed the increased options women have today for getting pregnant and having babies. In a science fiction future, we may even be able to “grow” babies in artificial wombs. But for now, the weirdest thing I’ve heard about is the possibility of having posthumous offspring. That’s right: having children after you’re dead.

Israel has been in the news lately because of a case—two cases, actually—where the parents of deceased sons have petitioned the courts to allow them to use their sons’ preserved sperm at some point in the future to create their own grandchildren. In a 2009 case, the deceased was a 15-year-old cancer patient who had had his sperm collected and frozen before he underwent cancer treatment. Against the advice of Israel’s Attorney General, the court ruled that the sperm could be turned over to the boy’s parents as part of his estate and that they could then use the sperm as they wished.

In a more recent case, the parents of a 27-year-old man had his sperm extracted when he was in a coma. Their son subsequently died and his parents are awaiting the verdict of the Attorney General as to whether or not they can use his sperm to impregnate a willing female.

Israel leads the world in reproductive technological innovations.

It has the world’s highest IVF rate: According to a 2006 paper prepared for the Knesset, 1,800 treatment cycles are performed each year per million people, compared to 240 in the United States. Its specialists are among the best on earth, and health insurance there covers unlimited IVF [in-vitro fertilization] attempts up to the birth of two live children. Israel was the first country in the world to legalize surrogate-mother agreements.

I’ve read about cases dating back to the 1990s where courts have had to decide what to do with a couple’s frozen embryos in the event of divorce or death. [See guidelines for addressing this issue in your will.] I can also remember the brouhaha when the first test-tube baby was born in 1978. But even then I’m not sure that all the implications were considered. I certainly don’t remember anyone talking about posthumous grandchildren!

One twist to these stories is the position of pro-lifers about what should be done with “left-over” embryos. Although their concern about disposing of unused fertilized eggs is understandable, what’s their solution? Advertise for surrogate mothers to carry all these embryos to term? How would that even be possible when the embryos “belong” to the couple who created them? (There is one other option: adoption of embryos by third parties. See article about this here.)

Would pro-lifers deny a couple the opportunity to use IVF simply because there might be embryos that will be discarded? Or do they propose that a couple be forced to use all the embryos, even in the case of only one pregnancy? Do we really want more Octomoms?

Then there is the issue of abortion, or in the case of multiples, selective reduction. If a couple decides to have the extra embryos destroyed, are they “committing” abortion? And similarly, if a couple has the right to dispose of extra embryos when they’re undergoing IVF, then why isn’t it all right to have an abortion?

It all comes down to the issue of ownership. If you “own” the products you created, then don’t you have the right to do what you want with them?

If pro-lifers are going to be consistent they also have to be against any procedure that results in embryos that aren’t eventually used. But since it would be impossible to enforce that all embryos be used, their only tenable position is to be against all such technology. And somehow I can’t see them being able to stop people from developing or wanting to take advantage of new ways to solve infertility problems.

If This Isn’t a Threat, What Is?

The following appeared in the Feminist Majority Foundation‘s Feminist News for April 21, 2011. If you’d like to receive these news digests as well as lists of feminist jobs, sign up here.

Wichita Judge fails to issue Preliminary Injunction against Anti-Abortion Activist

U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten refused to grant an order sought by the Department of Justice against an anti-abortion activist for sending a threatening letter to Dr. Mila Means, the Kansas doctor who plans to offer abortion services in Wichita. Dr. Means has been the target of anti-abortion protests and harassment since she began training to provide abortion services in December.

“We are dismayed by the Judge’s decision,” said Katherine Spillar, executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “However, anti-abortion extremists have been put on notice: every threat against abortion providers will be investigated and challenged,” Spillar continued. “Rigorous prosecution of extremists who are advocating and using violence is the only way to stop this domestic terrorism.”

The Justice Department had accused Angel Dillard of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), a law protecting abortion clinics, and asked that Dillard be prohibited from contacting Means or coming within 250 feet of her home and her office. Dr. Means testified in court that she felt threatened by the letter, and had undertaken numerous security measures in response. Although Judge Marten said that Dillard clearly intended to intimidate Dr. Means, he did not believe the letter constituted a “true threat” prohibited under FACE. [Italics mine.]

Dillard has been associated with anti-abortion groups in Kansas. In an interview with the Associated Press in July 2009, Dillard revealed she had corresponded with Scott Roeder, then in a Wichita jail awaiting trial for the murder of Dr. Tiller. Dillard told AP “With one move, (Roeder) was able…to accomplish what we had not been able to do…So he followed his convictions and I admire that.”

In her letter to Dr. Means, Dillard wrote among other things: “You will be checking under your car everyday – because maybe today is the day someone places an explosive under it.” Later in the letter, Dillard added: “We will not let this abomination continue without doing everything we can to stop it.”

Abortion services have not been available to women in Wichita since Dr. George Tiller’s murder in May 2009. The Feminist Majority Foundation, which conducts the oldest and largest national clinic defense project in the nation, had worked with Dr. Tiller and is assisting Dr. Means and other besieged clinics in some 14 states.

Media Resources: Feminist Majority Foundation; Associated Press

The following is the text from the April 21st Rachel Maddow Show about this development:

MADDOW:  On February 23rd on this program, we reported on a death threat—a death threat that had been sent to the doctor in south central Kansas who was trying to become the first abortion provider in that part of the country since Dr. George Tiller was murdered by an anti-abortion extremist in 2009.

This death threat said in part, quote, “If Dr. Tiller could speak from hell, he would tell you what a soulless existence you are purposefully considering all in the name of greed.  Thousands of people are already looking into your background, not just in Wichita but from all over the U.S.  They will know your habits and routines.  They know where you shop, who your friends are, what you drive, where you live.

You will be checking under your car every day because maybe today is the day someone places an explosive under it.  We will not let this abomination continue without doing everything we can to stop it.”

After that death threat became public, the federal Department of Justice announced two weeks ago that they have filed a civil complaint against the woman who wrote the threat and sent it to the doctor.  The first step legally was that Justice Department lawyers asked the federal judge for a preliminary order to keep the woman who sent the threat away from the doctor she threatened—to keep a physical distance between them.

The hearing on that request just happened this week.  I‘ll tell you what was decided at the hearing in just one moment.  But one of the amazing things about the radical and violent—or at least pro-violence anti-abortion movement ending up back in court again because of another threat to another doctor is that them being in court has the effect of shining a light on who they are.  And in this specific case, it has shined a light on the connections between these people, this network of people, who commit politically motivated murder or who attempt to do that, or who promote doing that.

It really is a movement.  These folks know each other.  They are not alone.

And here‘s how that looks this week, with this federal court case.  The anti-abortion activist accused of writing the threatening letter is named Angel Dillard.  Ms. Dillard has not denied writing the letter.  Angel Dillard‘s attorney in this hearing was a man named Donald McKinney.  It‘s him on the left outside the courthouse with Angel Dillard yesterday.

Don McKinney participated in the Summer of Mercy protests against Dr.  Tiller in 1991.  Do you remember Kansas‘s radical anti-abortion attorney general Phill Kline?  Phill Kline is currently in the midst of ethics proceedings that could result in his disbarment over the way he pursued charges against Dr. Tiller.  We went to Kansas to cover that earlier this year, you might remember.

As one of Phill Kline‘s final and most controversial acts as attorney general, he hired the same lawyer, Don McKinney, to be a special prosecutor specifically to go after Tiller.  The same doctor who that lawyer had protested against back in the day.

Mr. McKinney, again that‘s him on the left there, Mr. McKinney was controversial not just for having protested against Dr. Tiller at the Summer of Mercy—he was controversial and it was a controversial thing for Phill Kline to make him a special prosecutor because McKinney has hosted as a house guest on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of those protests a member of the Army of God—this man.  Someone who had signed the defensive action statements put out by the Army of God, the statements that demand the murder of abortion providers and declare them morally justified.

You can still see those “Kill a Doctor for Christ” manifestos online in the dark corners of the abortion Internet where all the people who have murdered doctors have tribute pages to them and are celebrated as heroes.  Here‘s one for Paul Hill.

The first time that somebody shot and tried to kill Dr. Tiller in 1993, the assailant was Shelley Shannon.  Shelley Shannon was almost a member of the Army of God.  The Army of God guy we showed you earlier was linked to the lawyer in this current case, he specifically praised Shelley Shannon and her attempt on Dr. Tiller‘s life.  He called her a hero.

Well, Shelley Shannon was in prison for shooting and trying to kill Dr. Tiller.  One of her frequent prison visitors was Scott Roeder.  During the time that Scott Roeder was visiting Shelley Shannon in prison, he too came to think of himself as a member of the Army of God, and it was Scott Roeder, who after stacking (ph) Dr. Tiller and gluing the doors of another clinic shut and after protesting against Dr. Tiller and against abortion for years, and after corresponding frequently with the woman who worked at Operation Rescue in Kansas who had once been convicted of conspiring to bomb a clinic, it was Scott Roeder, Army of God, right—Scott Roeder who finally did what the army of god urges people to do and calls justified.  Scott Roeder in 2009 finally killed Dr. Tiller, shot him to death in Dr. Tiller’s church.

And even though I knew all of that before and I still do occasionally sleep, although it doesn‘t always look like it, here‘s the reason I did not sleep last night—since Scott Roeder has been imprisoned for murdering Dr. Tiller, someone who has contacted him enough to have struck up a jailhouse friendship with him is the author of our death threat, Angel Dillard.

After Dr. Tiller‘s murder, Angel Diller said this to the “Associated Press” about Scott Roeder and what he did.  Quote, “Quite honestly, as soon as I heard about it, I realized that he was able to accomplish what those of us in the pro-life movement had not been able to accomplish—we put millions of man hours in, protested, millions of dollars, attempts at legislation, and we were butting our heads up against the wall.  We were not getting anywhere.

With one move—meaning the murder Roeder was able to accomplish what we had not been able to do.  So, he followed his convictions and I admire that.”

So, while Shelley Shannon is in jail for trying to kill Dr. Tiller, Scott Roeder makes friends with her and ultimately decides she was on to something.  Eventually, he goes on to murder Dr. Tiller himself.  Then, when Scott Roeder is in prison for that, for succeeding in killing Dr.  Tiller, Angel Dillard makes friends with him in jail, and she says she admires what Roeder did in murdering a doctor for providing abortions.

And then she sends a letter to the new doctor who would take Dr.  Tiller‘s place, as south central Kansas‘s next abortion provider.  She sends a letter that directly references Dr. Tiller who has already been killed and tells the new doctor, “someone will put a bomb under your car one day,” and then goes on to say, “We will not let this abomination continue without doing everything we can to stop it.”

So, when lawyers for the Justice Department asked a federal judge in Wichita this week to issue a preliminary order to keep this woman who wrote this threat away from this doctor, this woman who befriended Dr. Tiller‘s murderer and said she admired him for doing it, and then she wrote to the doctor who would replace Dr. Tiller saying there would be explosives under his car someday, the judge said no.  The judge said, and I quote, “I don‘t think this letter constitutes a true threat.”

Joining us now is Kathryn Spillar, with the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Ms. Spillar, thank you very much for joining us.  I appreciate your time.


MADDOW:  I know that you know the facts of this case very well.  Is anything that I said about that strike you as confused or wrong, or did I lay it out in the way that you understand it?

SPILLAR:  I think you laid it out perfectly—perfectly—which is why the judge‘s decision yesterday in this case is so baffling to us.  It was such a clear violation of FACE, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, to have made this threat.  And yet, the judge did not see it as a true threat.

MADDOW:  The woman who wrote this death threat, her attorney argued at the hearing that it wasn‘t directly a threat that Angel Dillard would kill the doctor.  He described it as a warning to the doctor that other people might kill her.  “A,” does that make sense to you, and, “B,” how would something like that be handled under the FACE law, the federal law, that applies here?

SPILLAR:  Well, in fact, she used the word “we.”  We will not tolerate this abomination.  We will do everything feasible to stop you.

So, clearly, she put herself in that camp.  And the way that you evaluate a true threat under FACE is very clear.  Congress laid it out very succinctly.  It is how the threat is perceived by the person who receives the threat.

Is the language clear in the threat?  And, Rachel, you have read parts of the letter.  I think anyone would reasonably understand what was meant by those words—about a bomb under a car, about we know where you live.

The second part of that is the context in which the letter was received or the threat was made.  And clearly, in Wichita, the context is very certain.  Dr. Tiller was murdered less than two years ago, by many—by an individual who this person has been in touch with, at the network of extremists has said that we‘re going to keep Wichita abortion free, and they clearly are willing to use a bullet to do that.

But it‘s interesting.  Under the FACE law, this context is very important, but the Department of Justice doesn‘t even have to prove that this individual has the ability to carry out the threat.  It is simply that the threat was made with the intent of intimidating Dr. Means.  And Dr.  Means was clearly intimidated by this threat.

MADDOW:  This was a preliminary decision by this judge.  We do not know how this judge is going to rule in this case ultimately.  We don‘t know how this case is going to play out.

But, broadly speaking, as somebody who‘s been involved in this field are a long time and studied a lot of the radical edge of this movement, how important do you think it is for the Department of Justice to have brought this case?

SPILLAR:  Oh, it‘s critically important.  The extremists must know that their every action is being scrutinized, and that when the Department of Justice and the U.S. attorney believe that a threat has been made or an illegal act has been committed, that they will be prosecuted to the extent of the law.  We‘re very hopeful, obviously, that this decision will ultimately be repealed or that in the further hearings for a permanent injunction, that a permanent injunction will indeed be issued.

There‘s just no question.  Even in the judge‘s mind, he said that Dillard clearly meant to intimidate Dr. Means.

So, we applaud the Department of Justice for taking these cases.  We think that ultimately they will prevail and that indeed these kinds of threes won‘t be tolerated.

What worries us, Rachel, is that in the interim, the extremists will look at this decision and be emboldened by it, and will get even more extreme in some of the threats that they‘re making.  And doctors everywhere across this country already are facing intolerable levels of threats and violence.

So, we do hope that on further hearing, that we‘ll reach a different decision.

MADDOW:  Kathy, to that point, I mentioned this in the introduction, what made me not sleep about this is feeling like I am seeing a pattern here.  It feels like there is a scary pattern here.  And I know that Feminist Majority Foundation does a lot of work studying, as I said, the sort of violent edge of the radical anti-abortion movement.

Is this the pattern that you see among people who are moved ultimately beyond extremism to violent extremism?  That they get in touch with people who have committed violent acts, that they lionize that acts, that they start to think of themselves as part of a movement that promotes violence?

SPILLAR:  There has not been a single murder of a doctor in this country by an individual who was a lone wolf.  In every single case, the person who actually committed the murder has been an active participant in a network of extremists who promote the murder of doctors, who advocate the murder of doctors, who many of them themselves have committed violence.

And the interesting thing too, Rachel, is that many of those who go on to murder start with threats.  Or they start with gluing the locks of clinics, or they start with simple acts of vandalism.  And so, the importance of going immediately and challenging a threat, to interrupt this pattern of ultimately leading to violence is what is so critical about the Department of Justice action.

MADDOW:  Kathryn Spillar, executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation—thank you very much for helping us to understand this tonight.  I really appreciate it.

SPILLAR:  Thank you.


National Poetry Month: Poems About Abortion

Sometimes poetry can express complicated emotions better than prose can. And if there’s anything that has complicated emotions attached to it, it’s abortion.


I found plenty of poems on the Internet about grief over having an abortion, often from the aborted baby’s point of view. Most of these were on “Right-to-Life” sites. Now, I’m not saying that such poems have no merit. It’s obvious that they’re heartfelt and something the poets needed to write. But they also smack a bit of propaganda, or at least the decision to use them does. So I searched some more and found three poems by well-known poets:


The Abortion by Anne Sexton
Somebody who should have been born
is gone.

Just as the earth puckered its mouth,
each bud puffing out from its knot,
I changed my shoes, and then drove south.

Up past the Blue Mountains, where
Pennsylvania humps on endlessly,
wearing, like a crayoned cat, its green hair,

its roads sunken in like a gray washboard;
where, in truth, the ground cracks evilly,
a dark socket from which the coal has poured,

Somebody who should have been born
is gone.

the grass as bristly and stout as chives,
and me wondering when the ground would break,
and me wondering how anything fragile survives;

up in Pennsylvania, I met a little man,
not Rumpelstiltskin, at all, at all…
he took the fullness that love began.

Returning north, even the sky grew thin
like a high window looking nowhere.
The road was as flat as a sheet of tin.

Somebody who should have been born
is gone.

Yes, woman, such logic will lead
to loss without death. Or say what you meant,
you coward…this baby that I bleed.

The Mother by Gwendolyn Brooks
Abortions will not let you forget.
You remember the children you got that you did not get,
The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair,
The singers and workers that never handled the air.
You will never neglect or beat
Them, or silence or buy with a sweet.
You will never wind up the sucking-thumb
Or scuttle off ghosts that come.
You will never leave them, controlling your luscious sigh,
Return for a snack of them, with gobbling mother-eye. 

I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim killed
I have contracted. I have eased
My dim dears at the breasts they could never suck.
I have said, Sweets, if I sinned, if I seized
Your luck
And your lives from your unfinished reach,
If I stole your births and your names,
Your straight baby tears and your games,
Your stilted or lovely loves, your tumults, your marriages, aches,
and your deaths,
If I poisoned the beginnings of your breaths,
Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate.
Though why should I whine,
Whine that the crime was other than mine?–
Since anyhow you are dead.
Or rather, or instead,
You were never made.
But that too, I am afraid,
Is faulty: oh, what shall I say, how is the truth to be said?
You were born, you had body, you died.
It is just that you never giggled or planned or cried.

Believe me, I loved you all.
Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you

And God Created Abortion by Sharon Esther Lampert

1. In the Beginning of God’s Creating the Heavens and the Earth –
2. When the Womb was Astonishingly Empty, Inside of Every Woman Being
God Made Millions of Eggs That Lived a Fleeting Lifespan. And One by
One, Each Egg Cascaded to its Death. God Made Abortion for Womankind.
And It Was So.
And Inside of Every Man Being, God Made Billions of Sperm That Lived a
Lifespan, And Cascaded to Their Deaths, on the Upstream, Against Gravity.
God Made Abortion for Mankind. And It Was So.
3. God said, “Let there be Abortion,” And there was Abortion.
4. God Saw that Abortion was Good, And God Separated the Eggs from the
5. God Called to the Sperm: “Male,” And to the Eggs God Called: “Female.”
And There Were Men and There Were Women, One Day.
6. God Said, “Let There Be a Conception. And One Plummeting Sperm and
One Plunging Egg Melded into One, And Propagated the Human Species.
And God Let the Lower Species Have a Greater Survival Ratio of Eggs to
7. And God Said: “Let There Be More Ants Per Square Inch Than Human
Beings Per Square Mile.” And It Was So.

The following poem is my own addition:

If I Had Been Forced to Have You by Ellen Keim

Your father would have beaten you

I know this because I married him later

out of a sense of misplaced guilt

over the fact that I had aborted his baby

the only child he would ever

end up having (thank God)


I know he would have beaten you

Because I had other children by then

and he beat them black and blue.

But those children I could rescue

He would never have let you go.

You’re better off in heaven.


They tell me what I did was murder.

I’ve asked forgiveness for my sins.

The difference between God and man

is that God will forgive.



Watching What We Say: Is Name-Calling Ever Excusable?

While Kobe Bryant was defending his use of the phrase “fucking fag” as something that should not be taken literally and that came out of the heat of the moment (the referee had just called a foul on him), volleyball fans in Brazil were dealing with a similar situation. During a semifinal match a couple of weeks ago, some of the fans started shouting, “Bicha! Bicha! Bicha!” at Michael, an allegedly gay player on the other team. (“Bicha” means “faggot.”)

Shocked by the blatant homophobia and in a show of support, Michael’s team and fans came up with a gigantic banner proclaiming that they are against prejudice, the teammates wore pink warm-up shirts and the crowd shook pink thundersticks with Michael’s name on them.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., more than half of those polled thought that Kobe Bryant’s $100,000 fine was unnecessary. His apology (such as it was) should be enough.

In my opinion, people who think that should apologize—for not being sensitive enough about the issue themselves.

There is no excuse for using a derogatory term as a swear word, whether it’s “faggot” or “pussy” or “nigger.” When you do that, what you’re really saying is that it’s a bad thing to be gay, female or black. It doesn’t even have to be directed at an actual homosexual, woman or black person. In fact, the intent is even more insulting when it isn’t, as in “He’s so queer” or “He throws like a girl.”

As far as I know, the referee Bryant got upset with isn’t gay, and yet Bryant apparently felt it a need to insult him by calling him a “fag.” What else could he have meant except that being homosexual is the lowest of the low?

[Or is it? The worst word I can think of, and I think most people would agree with me, is the “C” word. I won’t even write it, let alone say it. I think it’s significant that the worst epithet a person can sling at another person is a derogatory word for part of the female anatomy.]

There’s too much acceptance of name calling in this country. People make excuses for it by saying that they didn’t mean it to be derogatory, that it’s just a “figure of speech.” I don’t buy it. It’s not a figure of speech; on the contrary, words like “faggot” and “pussy” are loaded with meaning. It’s just that what they mean is hurtful. Words can hurt. They can even cause people to have breakdowns and commit suicide.

Not only that, but do we really want to teach our children that it’s okay to use such language? These were grown-ups who were calling out “Faggot! Faggot!” Because he’s an athlete, kids look up to Kobe Bryant as a role model.  Do we really think that there’s no correlation bullying among schoolchildren and the damaging words they hear adults using freely and in public?

[In a side note, actress Ashley Judd was criticized this past week for her opinion (which was stated in her recent memoir) that hip-hop music contributes to a “rape culture.”

“As far as I’m concerned, most rap and hip-hop music — with it’s rape culture and insanely abusive lyrics and depictions of girls and women as ‘ho’s’ — is the contemporary soundtrack of misogyny.”

Most of the criticism was about her singling out one kind of music for being misogynist when there are plenty of examples of “trash-talking” in other musical genres. But because of the controversy over her remarks, her basic message was lost, which is that the words we use do matter and they can have negative consequences.]

Personally, I think Kobe Bryant got off easy. And I’m disappointed that more Americans don’t agree with me. But then what do I expect in this country? Pink warm-up shirts and thundersticks?





Does Pink Nail Polish on a Boy Create Gender Confusion?

You may be aware of the controversy over a mother painting her five-year-old son’s toenails neon pink in a recent J. Crew ad. One pundit called it “blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children.” Psychologist and author Keith Ablow advises the mother to put money aside for her son’s future psychotherapy. Here, Jon Stewart weighs in on The Daily Show:

I wrote a post a couple of years ago about this topic (“Pink is for Girls“) but even then I didn’t seriously consider that people would cry “Transgender!” if a boy painted his toenails. (Or is it that they’re pink that’s the problem?) And what’s with all the blame being heaped on the mother for seeming to encourage this behavior?

One of my readers directed me to an article in Mother Jones about the “pink problem.” In it, the author points out that until the 1920s, the gender-assigned colors were reversed: pink was for boys and blue for girls. And boys used to be dressed like girls (long hair and all) until they graduated into short pants.

The fact is, there are many strands in the process of gender socialization and color is probably the least significant. How we talk to, handle and play with our children has more to do with how they perceive their gender. That’s why many parents with children who prefer to “cross-dress” don’t seem to be unduly concerned. Do a Google search on boys loving pink and you’ll be surprised at how many parents report that their perfectly normal boys are enamored with the color. There’s even a Facebook page titled “My Son Likes Pink.” Sarah Hoffman writes about her son looking great in a dress in a article.

Why are we so concerned about little boys dressing like girls and not the reverse? (Although there has been some media speculation about Shiloh Jolie-Pitt and her tomboy ways.) A woman has to go really butch to get people second-guessing her sexual identity, but all a man has to do is wear hot pink.

And these assumptions are buried deep. It’s the rare person who doesn’t feel discomfort at a man in a skirt, for instance. I once attended a blues concert where the performer wore a long pleated skirt throughout the entire show and I honestly didn’t know what to think of it. I’m still puzzled. (The performer never mentioned his attire.) But why should I be? Women wear pants, don’t they?

An alternate question might be, what harm does gender socialization do anyway? Isn’t it important for a child to be clear about his or her sexual identity? For one thing, small children might “know” their gender, but don’t view it as set in stone. Many children wish they were the opposite sex at some point in their development. Some even think they will change at a later date or that they’re free to choose. It’s not until a child hits preadolescence (ages 8-12) that his or her gender identification— and adjustment to it — becomes critically important.

Caring which way your child goes has more to do with discomfort about transgender and homosexuality than anything. Because the bottom line is, so what if your child identifies as the opposite sex, or is only attracted to the same sex? We do our children a great disservice when we force them into boxes they may not feel comfortable in.  (See tomorrow’s video, “The Man Box.”)