Punk rock, which used to be about rebellion, is apparently now about teaching young toddlers at a public library that they need to respect all different kinds of genders and gender identities.
In October, the Brooklyn Public Library hosted a “Genderful!” event, dedicated to “Exploring Gender Through Art.” The event, which was meant for children between the ages of 6-12, featured a performance by Against Me’s lead singer and transgender woman, Laura Jane Grace.
Video footage of Grace’s performance by If You Want It, Ltd., which collaborated with the Brooklyn Public Library on the event, shows children creating their own “zines” and reading curated LGBTQ+ books for children to a backdrop of clothing and other paraphernalia that reads “GENDER IS OVER! If you want it.”
Grace told NowThis Her, “If you think back to when you were in middle school and what sex ed was, and what a joke that class was, well, there was no gender class.”
“For kids, I feel like gender is a lot more fluid. It’s just something that’s not as a part of your daily existence or your interactions with your friends. And if you withdraw them from certain gender coding situations, kids are just kids when it comes down to it,” Grace explained.
One of the parents of the attendees, Emily Grote, said the event is important to her as the mother of a transgender 6-year-old.
“To be in an inclusive space like this is very powerful and important,” Grote said. “It’s my 6-year-old, who’s transgender. He transitioned about a year ago. I just noticed over the course of time between two and a half years old and 5-years-old, he became very—I’m going to get emotional—very withdrawn, and anxious, and depressed.”
Jillian Miller, a Chicago schoolteacher, told NowThis that she hopes to bring the event to her city.
Despite the fact that Grace transitioned from a man to a woman, the If You Want It website sells clothing items, and uses the URL, claiming “gender is over.” The organization attempts to reconcile these differences by saying that while gender roles are “often violent,” they respect gender identities:
We think that society’s emphasis on assigned binary gender roles is harmful, damaging, and often violent, and this is a statement against that. However, by ‘gender’ we don’t mean ‘gender identities’ — we believe that people’s gender identities & expressions are valid and should be respected! We also don’t intend for this to imply that we currently live in a post-gender world: gendered violence & gender inequality are real and pressing issues that require lots of work to dismantle.
The particular nuance might be difficult for the toddlers who attended the event to handle.
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