Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pro Linebacker’s Child Used As A Football In Tabloidesque “Gender Confusion” Custody Battle

Typically I must admit a slight bias towards moms in allowing their children to be who they are innately – who they were meant to be. Much of this comes from my upbringing and my own dad’s notice of my natural feminine tendencies and his insistence that I “be the man” from the age of five onward, urging me into football and other masculine pursuits. Men have a harder time dealing with anything resembling emasculation.

But in an unusual twist, Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher may well be doing the right thing, while his son’s mom, Tyna Robertson, is in the wrong. It’s Robertson who is claiming that Urlacher is feminizing his three year old son Kennedy, and seeking to remove Urlacher’s visitation rights.

This is a slow-motion tragedy in the making from what I see in the news reports: “diaper dandy,” “…makes his son wear pink diapers,” “… puts his son in Cinderella diapers,” and “creating gender confusion for his son” are being bandied about in both straight news print, sports and the blogosphere. Only MSNBC sports had a more balanced note that Urlacher is “apparently pretty open-minded guy” in a story that was pulled down shortly after (so there’s no telling if that was tongue-in-cheek sarcasm).

All of this is playing out in what’s becoming a nasty and public custody battle. Robertson, the mother scorned, alleges that gridiron tough-guy Urlacher is deliberately “confusing” her son’s gender.

“My boy's gonna play in the Big League.
My boy's gonna turn some heads.” — Big League, Tom Cochrane

For those in the transgender community – especially those of us who’ve transitioned – read the below statements that Kennedy’s mom, Robertson, reports the interactions with her son:

"He pulls down his pants and says, 'Mommy, look how pretty they are,' " she said.

"He'd say, 'Mommy, I don't want to get my nails wet. I don't want to mess them up,'" she said. "It took two hours to get him in the bath."

Robertson said Kennedy refused to take a bath for two days to keep the blue polish on his nails from washing off, telling her "big boys paint their nails."

Sound familiar? If you’re someone like me who ‘discovered’ there were two genders only when I was four, and even then realized something was wrong … yeah, it’s all-too-familiar. And Kennedy’s mom is all too typical of most parents who are clueless as to what this sentiment truly is.

While Robertson claims Urlacher’s creating this gender-confused situation, it must be said that earlier on, Urlacher allegedly texted Robertson and claimed that she was “raising a little pussy.” That doesn't sound as if Urlacher was all that keen on such a concept early on.

Nowadays, the blue painted toenails and Cinderalla pull-up diapers are no longer a major issue with Urlacher. Robertson said her pleas to Kennedy’s dad to get him to cease the toenail painting and Cinderella diapering have gone unheeded.

Robertson told Urlacher, "You're confusing him, if he's a boy or a girl."

Now I know Brian Urlacher is a big, bad, Bear middle linebacker. What makes any rational person think it would strike someone from that macho a profession as a fun thing to ‘force’ his son into wearing pink diapers and painting his toenails? And how many folks think that a three year old would willingly allow that forced feminization – even proudly showing it off to his mom? To do that, Urlacher would have to be more than just an intimidating athlete. He’d have to be both an accomplished child psychologist and a damned good salesperson!

Somehow that just doesn’t seem plausible to me, especially when you consider Urlacher’s earlier text to Robertson about their son.

What appears to this outsider as being more likely is that Urlacher figured out that this is just what Kennedy wants, and it’s not something that physically harms anyone or steals or cheats anything from anyone else. So, where’s the beef?

"[Urlacher] says he can do whatever he wants," Robertson said. “'It doesn't make him feminine. It doesn't make him gay.'”

If indeed this is nothing but a passing phase, Urlacher’s exactly right. Painting toenails or wearing pink underwear will not make anyone either gay or transsexual unless they're already predisposed to that.

If indeed Kennedy has a penchant for femininity and has an innate gender identity already, then both Urlacher and Robertson can choose one of two options. They can force their child to repress who they really are (in order to save their own face with family, friends and peers) until Kennedy becomes an independent (possibly resentful) adult, hoping the depression or inner turmoil doesn’t result in behavioral problems, early use of alcohol or drugs, or in worst-cases either running away as a throwaway teen or ending it all by suicide. Or they could find out about what gender identity issues are now and learn from other parents who’ve learned to provide a positive and supportive environment, and work to keep Kennedy from becoming a sad statistic.

Barbara Walters' interviews with transgender children and their families might be a good first step if such is the case. (

And regardless of who Kennedy wants to be, if I were Brian Urlacher and anyone had problems with his child, I’d encourage them to keep their opinions to themselves or learn the fascinating discovery of digesting their own teeth.

Meanwhile, as long as the parents are using him as a child-custody football and the public gets to salaciously watch the whole trash-news soap opera unfold in tabloids and blogs, I worry that Kennedy may end up having a very sad life.

1 comment:

havasumoma said...

This is indeed a sad, sad story for all concerned.

Kim Pearson
Executive Director
TransYouth Family Allies