Tey Meadow. 2011. “Deep Down Where the Music Plays: How Parents Account for Childhood Gender Variance” Sexualities, 14(6): 725-747.
Parents of gender variant children routinely negotiate their child’s gender with social institutions, from schools to churches to neighborhood associations. These interactions require that parent develop narratives about why their particular child violates gender norms. In this paper, I argue that over the last century, there has been a proliferation within biomedicine, psychiatry and popular culture of the ways in which we can ‘‘know’’ gender; and as a result, ever more emotional work is required to account for the ‘‘self’’ that inhabits the gendered body. This analysis of the work parents of gender variant children do to explain their children to others demonstrates that these identities require a distinctly modern form of accounting. With that call to articulate the self comes an attendant proliferation of the ways in which gender can be regulated; yet, despite much sociological evidence that medicine, psychology and spirituality are often mechanisms for social control, they also provide ready tools for exploring, facilitating and embracing the multiplicity and plasticity of contemporary gender identities.