I thought I’d go down the list and see how I did.
1. A strong feeling that they are “different” from other boys.
Oh yeah. Starting in kindergarten. It became more noticable as I got older. Believe me, other boys picked up on it too. The thing is, that it took some time before I absorbed the idea that there was anything wrong with being different from ther boys. It took some time for the other boys to absorb that idea, but they managed it sooner than I did. And when they did, boy did I get it. Before I could name my "difference" I was reminded of it, and punished for it on a daily basis.
2. A tendency to cry easily, be less athletic, and dislike the roughhousing that other boys enjoy.
Again, I came up against this rigid idea of what a boy is "supposed to be." I was awful at athletics, and disliked them instensely. Even now, as an adult, I stay away from competitive sports because suddenly finding myself on a softball field can give me flashbacks to the fourth grade. Anyway, I was, for some reason, disinclined to join the rest of the boys in a game of "smear the queer."
I got it at home too. I remember once my Dad being concerned about the way I ate an apple. I sliced it up and cut out the core, instead of just biting into it. If people saw me eating an apple like that, they might think I was queer.
3. A persistent preference to play female roles in make-believe play.
I don’t know about a strong tendency to play female roles, but I did enjoy playing with my sister’s dolls. I remember once sitting in the family room, happily combing and styling the hair of one of those dolls while my parents carried on a conversation like I wasn’t in the room. It went something like this. My dad was concerned that I shouldn’t be playing with dolls. My mom rationalized it by saying that I might have a daughter someday, and I’d have to know how to do her hair. (Turns out, mom was right. I may very well have a daughter, if the next kid turns out to be a girl, just not the way she had in mind.)
4. A strong preference to spend time in the company of girls and participate in their games and other pastimes.
How can I put this? It’s not so much that I prefered the company of girls as it was that it was just easier company for me to be in. Guys tended to steer clear of me, because I was different in a way that made them uncomfortable. And, frankly, it was easier for me not to be around guys, because then I wouldn’t have to worry about my attraction to some guys being obvious. And, anyway, girls found me less threatening to be around.
5. A susceptibility to be bullied by other boys, who may tease them unmercifully and call them “queer,” “fag” and “gay.”
Oh yeah. I got this big time. By the time I got to 8th grade, I was severely depressed. I’d pretend to be sick just to stay home from school. When I went to school, I’d absolutely refuse to participate in phys. ed., because that meant going into the locker room. Once was enough to teach me what I’d have to face in there, with no adults around to inhibit the other guys. I flunked that course one semester, because I wouldn’t go into the locker room and therefore couldn’t "dress out." I cant’ remember what I told the teacher, except that it wasn’t the truth, because I didn’t think anyone would be on my side at that point. I’d invariably come home depressed and angry.
Had things gone differently, I would have "pulled a Columbine" years before that event actually happened. Fortunately, I landed in therapy, where I ran into the first adult to ever even suggest to me that there might not be anything wrong with being "different," being gay, that is.
6. A tendency to walk, talk, dress and even “think” effeminately.
I don’t know about all that. All I know is that I walked, talked, dressed and thought like myself. It took other people to decide how I should walk, talk, dress, and think, and to decide that I was somehow defective. It took years before I was able to hear anything else. That’s a hard place for a kid to be; "defective" and unable to do anything about it.
7. A repeatedly stated desire to be — or insistence that he is — a girl.
This one gets and unqualified "not me." I never had any desire to "be a girl."
What’s interesting about these questions is that then tend to focus more on behavior than orientation, as to most "reparative therapy" programs these days. The focus is more on changing the individual’s behavior, not changing their insides, except to leave them even more confused and torn-up than before. Some such programs, almost comically, focus intensely on gender behavior as the answer, to the point of dragging the gay guys to sporting events (but no touching allowed) and giving the lesbians make-up tips.
Add it all up, and what do you get? These questions seem more oriented towards an extremely stereotyped idea of what a "real boy" should be like. They also seem designed to torture the hell out of any boy who does not, or is constitutionally incapable of conforming to that stereotype — even if that boy is actually heterosexual. You see, the traits listed above are just as likely to be possessed by a straight kid as a gay kid.
Or, as Kevin puts it:
The implication is that gays can choose to not be gay. And the implication of that is that your 5 to 11 year old boy is choosing the wrong gender identity, which will cause them to choose homosexuality when they become adolescents. It’s insane.
It is more than insane — it is cruel. Dobson is telling parents that they must crush any child who doe snot conform to the very narrow notion that Dobson has of what a little boy should be. Any deviation from that template, even in children as young as five, is a dangerous sign of gender confusion, worthy of “professional help”. Dobson is allowing his own twisted readings of scripture and the bigotry those readings engender to warp his duty to protect children. He is so afraid of homosexuals that he is willing to crush little children’s sense of themselves and belief in their own personality to combat it.
That’s the ultimate outcome, of course. To crush a kid’s spirit, and distort his or her identity beyond repair. In that sense, I guess I’m lucky I got through it. A lot of kids, some of whom I knew personally, didn’t.
Quick hint to those who might be parents to such a boy as described above. Be on their side. Accept them for who they are. If they get picked on or called "fag" or "queer," don’t respond by asking them "Well, you’re not, are you?" Just work with the school to make it stop.