The Child Therapy List asked Tim Bidon (they/them), Sex Positive Coordinator at Brooklyn Minds, four questions about their journey as a young person exploring gender identity.
How old were you when you became gender aware/awake?
“This can actually be sort of a difficult question to answer because ideas of gender and the gender binary are so heavily reinforced at all levels of society early on. I can remember as far back as kindergarten being drawn to “girl” things that my teachers and parents would steer me away from because they were not “meant for little boys.” It became evident pretty quickly that these were things meant to be kept to myself, but that didn’t mean they went away. For a variety of reasons, I felt as a child I had to “grow up” pretty quickly and can pretty much always remember having some vague idea that I wasn’t “like the other boys.” My next door neighbor, Lia, had a child-sized Belle dress that I would slip into any time the opportunity presented itself and was digging through my mother’s makeup (and getting in trouble) for many years, but as a child I didn’t have the language. Somewhere in middle school I came out as gay, which allowed me a little more freedom to express the so-called “effeminate” qualities of myself in a way that those around me could understand. From there, into college, I began to identify more as “queer” rather than just gay, which I understood to take on a more political quality as an identifier.
I actually didn’t come out as non-binary until last year, shortly after starting at Brooklyn Minds. It was the first company I worked for where pronoun usage was ubiqitous and I worked alongside many fantastic non-binary/ trans/ queer professionals who whether they knew it or not, made me finally feel safe enough to acknowledge this elephant in the room.”
What advice can you give to parents whose child is saying, through words or actions, they are questioning their gender identify?
“Acceptance, validation and support.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I know it would have been helpful for me to know that “there is only one me and I am unique.” Children should be shown examples of other people who have questioned/ reimagined their gender identity. We’re lucky to be living in a time where there are countless authors, celebrities and now even politicians that children can aspire towards. As a parent, I’d want to validate that my child is free to express themselves as however feels best to them and that I’d be there every step of the way to support them in however they see fit. This might lead to some difficult conversations about how certain gender expressions may be perceived by others but generally I think kids are more perceptive than we give credit. If you give them all the information, support and facts you can, they will choose what is right for themselves.”
Have your perspectives on your gender identity and expression changed over the years?
“They have, definitely! For a long time I thought being gender non-conforming exclusively meant you used to be a “man” and wanted to be a “woman” and vice versa and it took a lot of time for me to realize just how restrictive that binary can be. Does deciding to paint my nails change the entire essence of who I am? Does it change my entire gender? While some people may perceive it as such, it’s still the same me. Some days I feel like rocking my 5 o clock shadow and a fashionable lumberjack, whereas other days a smokey eyeshadow is calling to me. For me, fashion and aesthetic has always just been another palete for self-expression and I think that exploration does, and continues to, look like me expanding those boundaries and drawing on fashion/ makeup inspirations that society might have said weren’t “for me.”
Are there gender expression resources you found helpful?
“Sissy a wonderful autobiography by Jacob Tobia (another non-binary person) singlehandedly changed my life. They explore their relationship with themselves and their parents and I think it’s a must-read for any parents or young people having these questions.
Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us by Kate Bornstein is another impactful fave!”