Haircut: Thoughts on Gender, Intersex, Revolution and Trains

My two little guys got their hair cut today, Charlie for the first time. They hated it. No amount of toys or singing would keep them from batting at the lady with her scissors and her comb. Charlie confiscated the comb. The lady gave us an envelop with his little scraps of hair in it. The Intersex Society of North America (which apparently has disbanded) recommends avoiding infant surgery and picking a gender in which to raise your child, later letting your more grown child make his or her own choices. This rough paraphrase is from memory based on information I’ve learned at the shows of my friend Thea Hillman, whose book Intersex: For Lack of a Better Word was released this month from Manic D Press. When I first heard these ideas expressed, I fancied myself a gender-radical, formed by the brilliant work of Kate Bornstein and Judith Butler and others who challenged the very notion of a dual-gender system. I was disappointed in the idea of conforming to the dual-gender system, of raising your children in it, especially those whose bodies already seemed to lean away from it. These days, I spot Judith Butler, her equally brilliant partner Wendy Brown, and their tall son at my local farmer’s market, where I am wheeling a double stroller while Angie feels up the pluots. But I guess what’s changed most is that while I’d still like the world to be a radically different place, I do not want to put my kids on the front line of the revolution. I actually think that imposing my own resistences to gender...