Policing Gender

Sunnie Kahle, 8, prefers to have short hair and dress comfortably (t-shirts, jeans and sneakers).  Officials at the school she has attended, Timberlake Christian School near Lynchburg, VA, decided that wasn’t appropriate for one of their students.  So they wrote to Sunnie’s grandparents, who are also her guardians, to inform them that Sunnie would have to dress more femininely if she wanted to attend that school.

Despite what you may see in any headlines, Sunnie is not transgender.  She is perfectly satisfied with being a girl.

The school officials, however, expressed their concern about her appearance and cited their policy against condoning sexual immorality, practicing a homosexual lifestyle, or having an alternative gender identity.

You’re probably aware that Timberlake Christian School is a religious, Bible believing institution providing education in a distinctly Christian environment.

We believe that unless Sunnie as well as her family clearly understand that God has made her female and her dress and behavior need to follow suit with her God-ordained identity, that TCS is not the best place for her future education.

–The Letter

The letter included Bible verses which the officials think justify their behavior towards this child.

Sunnie’s grandfather, Carroll Thompson, was astounded.

How do you label a child, eight years old, or discriminate against an eight year old child?

–Carroll Thompson

WSET.com – ABC13

How do you tell a child when she wants to wear pants, a shirt, and go out and play in the mud and so forth, how do you tell her, no you can’t, you’ve got to wear a pink bow in your hair, and you’ve got to let your hair grow out long, how do you do that?  I can’t do that

–Doris Thompson

The Thompson’s have withdrawn Sunnie from the school and enrolled her in a public school.

She cries every morning to get on the bus, she cries when she comes home because she wants to go back to Timberlake Christian with her friends.

Doris Thompson

The letter from the TCS officials says that other students have been confused about whether Sunnie is a boy or a girl.  They admit that Sunnie was a good student, but said that “things disturbed the classroom environment.”

And there you have it.  Sunnie is not confused about her gender.  Other people are confused about it.  So what shall they do?  Clearly, they should punish Sunnie.

Do you want to live in a world like this?  Do you want to be imprisoned by someone else’s gender rules?

What the fuck kind of world is this?!?

In Buncombe County, North Carolina Grayson Bruce, 9, was teased and bullied for carrying a My Little Pony backpack to Candler Elementary School.  Grayson is a fan of Hub Netowrk’s Friendship is Magic television show.  The school’s initial response was to disallow the backpack…essentially blaming Grayson for the bullying.  After a week of uproar, school officials have reversed their decision.

I’m glad that God took some time off from making the universe to specify that women can’t have short hair and wear pants, and that to do so would be absolute confirmation of an “alternative gender identity.” I didn’t realize that I was trans, and so I suppose I’ll start living my life as a man now.

Jesus, of course, was a great champion of isolating, alienating, and bullying young children based on wildly important things such as clothing.  In fact, I believe it’s written in the Bible that “By bullying defenseless children, one honors God.”  It’s right after the verses and verses preaching love, kindness, forgiveness, and that judgement is not for humans.

–Julia Sonenshein, The Gloss


    • Robyn on March 28, 2014 at 23:07

    …from the gender police, perhaps we transgender people would have a shot at being treated equally.

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