There is very little gender fluidity in our culture, so we respond strongly when someone-like 4-year-old Jake, the namesake of LCT3's current world-premiere production of A KID LIKE JAKE- doesn't jibe with the binary thinking of pink frilly dolls for girls and plastic trucks for boys. It was only in this past month that the American Psychiatric Association replaced "Gender Identity Disorder" with the less-stigmatized "Gender Identity Dysphoria." But gender nonconformity in boys is becoming more and more visible in the mainstream media. Did you catch "Toemageddon" on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," about a little boy wearing pink nail polish? Or those Gawkerposts about a father wearing a skirt to help his son feel comfortable? How about the story in The Huffington Post about a boy who was a Disney fairy for Halloween? Or the recent article "What's So Bad About a Boy Who Wants to Wear a Dress?" in "The New York Times Magazine?"
In the end, Jake and other little boys like him are very young kids who are at the beginning of figuring out who they are in every respect. Many parents feel they need to choose between protecting their son's self-esteem and protecting him from potential attacks by the outside world. But each of these boys' gender identity could go a multitude of ways, so it's practically impossible to figure out the best way to proceed. In hopes of finding answers, many parents turn to others with gender-nonconforming children to realize they'd rather change the narrow-mindedness of the world than forcibly change their wonderful little kid-so they seek out online list-servs, attend conferences and weekend camps, read books and pamphlets, visit gender clinics, work with schools to bring in diversity training, and provide a loving home environment. When you come to A KID LIKE JAKE, you'll watch Alex and Greg-two well-meaning NYC parents who are also trying to do right by their 4-year-old child.
Check back soon for more of our Backstage Blog from the LCT3 production of Daniel Pearle's A KID LIKE JAKE!
Natasha Sinha is the LCT3 Associate at LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater.