When Lori Duron’s son began playing with Barbies and girl toys at an early age, the Orange County, Calif. mother of two realized she wouldn’t be raising a normal “boy” in the traditional sense of the word. Duron’s son, C.J., would instead blossom into what she referred to as a “rainbow child,” or a gender-nonconforming boy.
She started a blog, at first writing anonymously, called “Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son” (which is now published as a book of the same name), to chronicle her adventures in raising her son. C.J., now six years old, is described as “the most captivating child you will ever meet with an insane knack for art and color, interior design and dance.” C.J.’s dreams include being a make-up artist or hair stylist.
“He’s fun. He’s a great kid. He’s healthy and happy,” Duron told the AP in an interview.
Duron was aware of the difficulties a transgender or homosexual child faced growing up in an unsupportive environment. She and her gay brother were raised in L.A. in the 1970s and 80s, when ideas of raising a “gender neutral” child were unheard of, especially in a more conservative household.
“We come from a very religious home, where homosexuality was considered a sin,” Duron told the AP. “I watched my brother struggle and I watched my parents and I promised that I wouldn't make those same mistakes with my kids should they be LGBTQ."
Gender variance is an expression of gender that is noncomforming to the dominant gender norms. Some children who identify as gender-noncomforming end up coming out as gay or transgender as they enter adulthood, while other children who showed gender variance in adolescence remained with their original gender in adulthood.
According to the Gender Spectrum, gender variance occurs in 1 in every 500 births. A 2012 editorial piece published in Pediatrics noted that gender-nonconforming behavior is actually quite common among children – up to 13 percent of teenage boys and 26 percent of teenage girls took part in “cross-gender” behavior in their younger years. A smaller amount said that at some point they wished to be the opposite gender.
Duron hopes that her book will help parents who face similar situations in feeling that they're not alone. "[W]e were feeling so alone and we were feeling like we were the only family going through this and we knew that that couldn't be the case," Duron said of the reason why she started blogging about the issue, according to the AP.