This time a young girl by the name of Katie Goldman, a first grader and avid Star Wars fan in the Chicago area was being teased at school by the boys in her class because she loves Star Wars and carries a Star Wars backpack and water bottle to school about it. Her mother, heartbroken to see her daughters spirit broken by the need to fit in, encouraged her daughter to stick with what she loves and tried to help her deal with the realities of being different. Then, like nerdyapplebottom, the mother of the boy in the Daphne costume, and all great stay at home blogger/parents...*cough*...Carrie Goldman took it to the net in her blog, Portrait of an Adoption.
At summer's end, Katie and I went to Target to pick out her backpack, lunchbox and water bottle for the new school year. After great deliberation, she chose a Star Wars water bottle to match her Star Wars backpack.Katie's mom describes that her heart sank and pushed a little harder to get at what might be behind her daughters sudden need to ditch her love for Star Wars:
Katie loves Star Wars, and she was very excited about her new items. For the first few months of school, she proudly filled her water bottle herself and helped me pack her lunch each morning.
But a week ago, as we were packing her lunch, Katie said, "My Star Wars water bottle is too small. It doesn't hold enough water. Can I take a different one?" She searched through the cupboard until she found a pink water bottle and said, "I'll bring this."
I was perplexed. "Katie, that water bottle is no bigger than your Star Wars one. I think it is actually smaller."
"It's fine, I'll just take it," she insisted.
I kept pushing the issue, because it didn't make sense to me. Suddenly, Katie burst into tears.
She wailed, "The first grade boys are teasing me at lunch because I have a Star Wars water bottle. They say it's only for boys. Every day they make fun of me for drinking out of it. I want them to stop, so I'll just bring a pink water bottle."
"Katie, it is okay to be different. Not all girls need to drink out of pink water bottles," I told her.Yes, it is how it starts...but I hope she never loses the courage to be what makes her unique. I hope my own children never lose that spark that makes them special.
"I don't want to be too different," Katie lamented. "I'm already different. Nobody else in my class wears glasses or a patch, and nobody else was adopted. Now I'm even more different, because of my Star Wars water bottle."
I hugged her hard and felt my heart sink. Such a tender young age, and already she is embarrassed about the water bottle that brought her so much excitement and joy a few months ago.
Is this how it starts? Do kids find someone who does something differently and start to beat it out of her, first with words and sneers? Must my daughter conform to be accepted?
When a boy innocently wears a female costume he is automatically accused of being gay. A little girl loves Star Wars and she is shunned. These are the first hints these kids receive that if you don't fit the mold ...we will cast you out. Each generation passes it to the next and none of us stop to ask ourselves why until something comes up that gives us a reason to.
I like to think of is like this...I imagine what I define as "myself" being slowly stripped away. At what point do I stop being me? You can take away my love of Star Wars and I will still be me. You can take away my home, my name, and my family and I will still have a "me". You can take away my memories and I will still wake up in the morning with a sense of a self. And finally...if you believe in any kind of afterlife...you can take away my body and with it my sense of gender, sexuality, etc..and I believe I will still have a sense of myself as an individual being. A blank slate...an essence. If all those things can be taken from me and I still find a "me"...than what am I?...I haven't answered that yet.
None of what we fight over...or define ourselves over matters in the greatest scheme of things because none of them is really what we are at our core. We are poured into the circumstances of our lives like water taking the shape of the glass it is poured into and we let that shape define who we are. Then we get so afraid of those who's glass may be a different shape even though we are the same water.
Wearing one costume will not make a little boy into a girl. Loving Star Wars will not make Katie any less of a girl...and furthermore, changing a body from one gender to another will not eradicate the person inside it....maybe its time we got over it and started accepting ourselves and others as we are...to let ourselves be fully human, with all the messiness and grey areas...and all the amazing potential that will never fit in our neat little boxes.
I fully congratulate Katie on having the good taste and sensibility to love Star Wars. She will be in good company. Additionally, due to her mom's blogging, I know that ton's of support has flooded in to Katie from other fans and even a few official Star Wars personalities. All of which has given Katie absolute delight and encouraged her to wear her passion as a badge of honor. Her mom relays Katie's happy ending...
Wow! Katie is overjoyed by the comments coming in!!! My sweet first grade daughter has been sitting with me at the computer, reading aloud all the wonderful, supportive notes from readers, and her face is shining. Each night after dinner, we are going to sit together, and she is going to read several comments to me and her daddy. We are going to print the comments out and make a book for her to read whenever she feels the need. Today she wore a Star Wars shirt to school and said to me, "Tell the people about it!!!!" This is really restoring her self confidence. She did a jaunty little pirouette in her Star Wars shirt before school.