“Is that a little girl?” asks Dulcie as we walk home from the playground, as a girl with pretty bobbed hair and wearing a tunic and leggings rides past on her bike. She is very clearly a girl, aged about eight, and I wish I was confused as to why I’m being asked this. I am bored with my own little homilies which are being completely disregarded, clearly.
“Yes, a girl,” I say firmly.
“She has hair like a boy and is wearing trousers. I thought she was a girl, but I’m just checking.” Dulcie has many, many times made me regret her bell-clear tones, forthright views and fog-horn volume, but on this occasion, the cyclist is well out of earshot, thank goodness.
“Her hair looked very nice – being a boy or a girl has nothing to do with the length of someone’s hair – and anyone can wear anything, it doesn’t matter as long as they’re clean and warm enough. It doesn’t change who you are.” We have this conversation about three times a week at the moment. To Dulcie, unless a girl has long hair (the irony being that her own very fine hair is growing so slowly that she has never needed a haircut and still looks almost bald in the bath when wheezing and blowing like a little seal, she dunks her head under the water) and is attired in a dress, preferably long, preferably pink, then gender is dubious. “I’m wearing trousers, and I’m a girl,” I point out. Continue reading