The youtubers the Sacconejolys have almost 2 million subscribers and post daily videos on their channel. The couple has three young children, two girls and a boy. The boy, three year old Eduardo likes to dress up in play dresses, and often pretends to be Anna from the Disney movie Frozen. This dressing up in dresses, created an uproar among subscribers of the channel. Some viewers claimed Eduardo must be transgender and his parents were not being accepting by referring to him as a “he”. Others criticized the parents for confusing Eduardo about what it means to be a boy and what it means to be a girl. Jonathan Sacconejoly, the father of Eduardo, addressed the concerns in one video, and said he did not understand the controversy, saying he often played with “girl” toys as a child.
Like Eduardo, the character Kit, from the book Kit Kittredge, plays with toys that do not stereotypically match her gender. She is a “tomboy” and prefers to play stereotypical boy activities, but no one questions that she is indeed a girl. There appears to only be controversy when boys do stereotypical “girl” activities versus when girls do stereotypical “boy” activities. The Sacconejolys’ older daughter Emilia plays with her brother’s “boy” toys at times, and that does not get a reaction from the subscribers. When a girl plays with toys outside the gender norm her parents are interpreted to be empowering her. However, when a boy plays with toys outside the gender norm his parents are interpreted as being cruel towards him.
Eduardo is a boy who looks up to his older sister Emilia, who was the one who taught and encouraged her younger brother to play dress up with her. Growing up, my sisters and I dressed our younger brother up in dresses as well. My brother never became confused about his gender nor did dressing up in dresses make him want to be a girl. Eduardo will one day grow out of dressing up to play, and will ultimately benefit from having open minded parents who don’t force their children to play with toys that stereotypically match their gender.