Oh Hey! It’s Alyssa #11: Talking To Kids

“Oh Hey! It’s Alyssa” is a biweekly web comic by Alyssa

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A. Andrews

A. is a totally complete incomplete paraplegic and thirty-something hanky-in-the-pocket cartoonist weirdo!

A. has written 69 articles for us.


  1. This reminds me of my nephew wondering about my wife after bringing her around for a while. My niece caught on that my wife and I were together and it is normal to her. My nephew, on the other hand, had so many questions and it took him a while to understand that gender didn’t matter because all he saw were straight couples on t.v. I’m just offended that he loves my wife more than me lol. What is strange is that I didn’t realize how much my head was programmed to talk about heterosexual coupling only. Any time I would talk to them about focusing on school, I found myself telling them to not focus on the opposite gender and automatically labeling them as straight. Now I correct myself because I don’t want them to think that they should ignore their own identities or hinder their personal development… Anyways, this comic put a smile on my face. Good job :)

  2. Thanks for writing this. I don’t interact with my younger relatives or spend much time around kids, but I do wonder at the ways adults try to shield and protect them. Either by avoiding certain topics of conversation or assuming their kid will be interested in all the things they are and be a mini version of themselves. Although that can be fun to disrupt, like when my extended family was half-seriously debating whether my three-year old second niece would play tennis or field hockey. I tried to open the field of possibilities by suggesting she might want to play bass in a punk band instead. =)

    Also: with the birds and the bees, is using two different animals supposed to reflect the gender binary in the way most people have “the talk?” My family’s version of “the talk” was my (drunk) mom giving a semi-focused rundown of the physical mechanics of human sexual reproduction. Yeah childhood.

    • thanks for reading it! and in regard to symbolism, yeah, definitely. when i think about conversations that are generalized as “the (earliest version of the) talk” it’s always like “when a mommy and a daddy love each other very much…”

      as a cis identifying person, i’ve not been faced with having the question of, or the personal experience of having to explain gender binaries (beyond validating that it’s okay that my nephew plays with a doll or something- you can play with anything!) so it feels inappropriate to speak to that experience that i’ve not personally had.

      but i think the main take away is that what makes these conversations “hard” for adults regardless of gender, ability, race, size, or sexual orientation, is that so much of a child’s upbringing has often been reacting to how we’ve defined a “norm” first.

      “you’re different. but that’s okay!” sounds lovely, but if you think about it, it tells a kid right off the bat that they’re “different” and then works from a reactive perspective rather than just being proactive in saying “hey it’s totally cool that you asked that question.” and then explaining how their curiosity is NBD and the subject they’re asking about isn’t strange or scary or wrong.

      “what’s wrong with your leg?”
      “eh it’s just always been like that.”
      “does it hurt?”
      “no, just makes me step kinda silly sometimes. but it still works so that’s a pretty good thing right?”

      the end. they’re curious. they just want to know things. children aren’t judgmental, they’re uninformed. grown ups on the other hand… could often use some work.

  3. This reminds me of something that happened not long ago.

    My girlfriend’s 9 year old niece came up to me and “Diana, if you and my aunt get married, would you be my aunt too” she said.

    “Yes I would be, is that ok?” I nervously replied.

    “Yep” and off she went.

    It really is that simple.

  4. A lot of times I’ve had younger kids question my gender identity. When my cousin asked if I was a boy (because of my personality), the only responce I could come up with back then was “The differences are more complicated than that and you’ll learn about it when you’re older.” Although I feel awkward when kids ask that question because truth is I’m not even quite sure myself how I identify at this point, if I’m a guy or a Butch woman or something in between. xD

    • I’ve definitely always been on the tomboy spectrum in my gender presentation, but have never personally struggled with my gender identity, or had to explore it in a deep or meaningful way, be it alone or with another. I think it’s totally cool that you had a response at all! I think it can really catch some of us off guard where we feel nervous or worried about what we’ll say and we doubt ourselves.

      I have had friends who’ve needed to explain their transition to young nieces or nephews, or other young family members (nieces and nephews stand out – as aunt and uncle are such gender specific terms), and when doing so, they just try to meet them where they’re at and just tell them they don’t necessarily know – and that sometimes people don’t and that’s okay. (i.e. something along the lines of: “That’s a good question! Sometimes I feel like a boy (/girl), and other times I don’t! I guess we can be both, if it fits right!”)

      Most of my friends in transition have just needed to be a lot more understanding if a kid needs to keep a name or pronoun for a little while, or tends to misgender as it’s pretty automatic for a kid to address you as they always have. So, I guess I’d imagine that patience when reminding of any changes to pronouns or names with kids should you find yourself exploring that does wonders in and of itself.

      Kids think of gender the same way heteronormative soon-to-be-parents think of gender at those awful “gender reveal” parties. It’s not expansive or complex yet – it’s: boys like blue and girls like pink. So meeting them where they’re at in developing an understanding of a more complex gender identity would likely be the most comfortable way to ease into it — for them and you. Don’t forget how important your comfort is.

      Also, just as a quicky side note: you don’t have to know how to identify right now or ever. Your gender identity and comfort with it can be ever-evolving your entire life and you’re still you – and both you and your identity, even if it’s not etched in stone, are still completely valid.

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