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Soc. Sci. 2016, 5(4), 73;

“My Mom Says Some Girls Have Penises”: How Mothers of Gender-Diverse Youth Are Pushing Gender Ideology Forward (and How They’re Not)

Department of Sociology, University of California, Davis, 1 Shields Ave, Davis, CA 95616, USA
Academic Editors: Maralee Mayberry and Lane Hanson
Received: 28 September 2016 / Revised: 4 November 2016 / Accepted: 8 November 2016 / Published: 14 November 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transgender Youth: Focusing on the “T” in LGBT Studies)
Full-Text   |   PDF [244 KB, uploaded 14 November 2016]


Despite a rapid rise in the public visibility of parents who are choosing to support their transgender and gender-diverse children in recent years, little is yet known about how these parents challenge the regulatory forces of hegemonic gender through their parenting. Based on semi-structured in-depth interviews, this article offers a comparative analysis of the ways that two groups of mothers—gender-expansive and gender-subversive—with differing ideological understandings of gender diversity resist the transmission of hegemonic schemas as they work to affirm their child’s sense of self. Drawing on Ridgway’s concept of gender as a primary frame, I identify a range of strategies used by each group and assess the potential for and limitations to advancing progressive gender ideology through trans-affirming mothering. While both groups contribute in powerful ways to trans-positive, gender-inclusive change, they do so through distinct parenting approaches that vary in their potential to undermine dominant gender ideology. While both groups of mothers resist the transmission of hegemonic gender beliefs in their parenting, the tactics and rhetoric used by gender-subversive mothers pose a more direct threat to the gender order than do those of gender-expansive mothers. View Full-Text
Keywords: gender; transgender youth; LGBTQ; childhood gender diversity; parenting gender; transgender youth; LGBTQ; childhood gender diversity; parenting
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Ryan, K.N. “My Mom Says Some Girls Have Penises”: How Mothers of Gender-Diverse Youth Are Pushing Gender Ideology Forward (and How They’re Not). Soc. Sci. 2016, 5, 73.

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