Q. When three of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's kids -- sons Pax and Maddox and daughter Shiloh -- walked the red carpet at the premiere of mom's film "Unbroken" recently, 8-year-old Shiloh wore a suit and tie and short haircut. Brad and Angelina say they are respecting their child's request to be called "John" and dress in boys' clothes. How do advocates for LGBTQ think the famous family's openness will affect other kids questioning their gender identity?
A. "I think it's fabulous that a renowned celebrity couple is not hiding it and is saying, 'Look, we need to respect what our child is experiencing,'" says Fran Karliner, director of development for Pride for Youth, a Bellmore-based not-for-profit service and advocacy agency for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning youth. "I think the more we can destigmatize the whole issue of gender orientation, the healthier this society is going to be. These are two people who are saying, 'It's our child, and we want you to know it's OK.'"
John's story also shows how kids may question gender from very young ages -- the
Jolie-Pitts have said that John started to ask to be called by the male name before the age of 3. "We tend to think children don't think about those things or analyze themselves until they're older," Karliner says. "We're starting to understand that how a child identifies him or herself comes at an earlier age."
Parents with kids who are questioning their gender can call Pride for Youth at 516-679-9000 for information.