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Tomboys and Other Gender Heroes

Confessions from the Classroom


Karleen Pendleton Jiménez

Have you ever been told that you’re too girlish or too boyish? We are all potential targets of the gender police, some more so than others. And how did you respond? Did you hide or change or rebel or hurt or gleefully celebrate your style? Tomboys and Other Gender Heroes is a study that brings together gender stories from approximately 600 children and youth. Set in both urban and rural contexts, these young people show how their schools and communities respond to their bodies, passions, and imaginations. As one 13-year-old student expresses, «My flowered jeans make me feel happy because they represent the sort of feminine side to me and at the same time show my masculine side. They also make me feel like I’m a part of a large force that stands up to bullying and criticism, to express themselves and to show the world that our lives have meaning.» In this book, student writings are framed by teaching strategies and gender theory, featuring themes of sports, film, media, landscape, joyfulness, and gender creativity. The research will be of great interest to university students in the fields of education, gender, sexuality and women’s studies, sociology, social work, psychology, counseling, and child development. This book is ideal for teachers, professors, parents, and community members who hope to create accepting environments for gender diversity.


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Appendix A: The Gender Rubric Level 1 Gender Destroyer Any person or rule that seriously harms some- one because of their gender expression. Examples: 1. A boy or man beaten up on the street because he looks feminine. 2. Some psychologists have written that it is not normal to be a boyish girl or a girlish boy. Level 2 Gender Police Any person or rule that tells someone that they cannot express their gender the way they wish. Examples: 1. Your friend tells you (a girl) not to join the hockey team because boys won’t like you. 2. The rule in a choir that says all boys must wear pants and all girls must wear dresses for performances. Level 3 Gender Bystander Any person or rule that makes no comment either to support or to harm someone because of their gender expression. Examples: 1. An adult tells a boy not to play with dolls, and other people hear this comment and say nothing. 2. School policies that do not include rights for all types of gender expression. Level 4 Gender Bender/Defender Any person or rule that supports people to express gender however they wish. This could also be the people themselves expressing gender how they wish. Examples: 1. A girl wears a suit and tie to the school dance and her friends and teachers support her. 2. The creation of washrooms that accept a person of any gender. 146 tomboys and other gender heroes Appendix B: Gendered Object or Activity...

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