Gender Fluidity Makes Perfect Sense to My Six-Year-Old

So why is it so hard for adults to understand?

Kerala Taylor


Photo via Canva.

Here’s my new rule of thumb: If something makes sense to my six-year-old, it probably just makes sense.

Granted, my six-year-old still believes that a bearded man in a red suit flies a reindeer-powered sleigh around the world every Christmas to deliver presents made by elves. But as he approaches first grade, his questions about Santa are becoming increasingly logistical.

How many miles is it around the Earth? How fast does Santa’s sleigh fly? How does it hold so many toys? Don’t the reindeer get tired?

As I cobble together answers, wondering why parents willingly entrap themselves in such intricate webs of lies, he looks at me quizzically, then shrugs his shoulders. Maybe the details are a little murky, but he’s still willing to accept Santa as a symbol of benevolence, because benevolence makes sense.

Greed, hatred, prejudice, on the other hand — these do not make sense. Like all humans, my son has experienced them in passing, but he cannot understand why a human being would choose any or all of the above as guiding principles by which to live one’s life.

Adults can point to societal factors to explain why some people cling so fiercely to greed, hatred, and prejudice — and the people who are busy clinging can use their circular loops of pseudo-logic to explain why their greed, hatred, and prejudice are justified.

But at the end of the day, my six-year-old finds it bewildering. A jolly, benevolent person with flying reindeer makes far more sense to him than a greedy, hateful person with racial prejudices.

Why in the world, he often wonders aloud, would anyone dislike him just because he has brown skin? “I mean, I’m good at basketball and I have lots of friends and I’m the best reader in my class,” he tells me with that singular six-year-old confidence. “I’m pretty awesome, Mom.”

I may be biased, but I’m inclined to agree.

You know what else makes sense to my six-year-old? That one of his best friends feels like a girl and a boy and wants to be referred to as “they.” The question for him isn’t so much, Why? as it is, Why not?



Kerala Taylor

Award-winning writer. Interrupting notions of what it means to be a mother, woman, worker, and wife. Subscribe: