Gender and playwork, the return

This story and picture were kindly contributed by a friend and colleague who wishes to remain anonymous.

“I’m gonna draw you.” says a kindergartener. We’re both sitting by a patch of sand. I had been drawing abstract lines in the sand with a stick while chatting with children and she took to the sand with a stick as well. “Okay.” I said.


“Here’s your head, and your arms are like this.”, she looked up at me then back to her drawing, a practiced artist wanting to get my likeness.
“Stop moving!” Whoops. I had gotten distracted and looked away but got back into my pose at her urging.
As she drew the details of my head she said, “Your hair is short, like a boy’s… Are you a boy or a girl?”
“I’m a little of both.” I answered, with a shrug – one of the handful of answers I give depending on context.
She took that in stride and moved on to my neck, and my body. No further questions needed for now.
I think a lot about how the children see me. I try to make sure I show through my body language that I’m available for play. I’m sure that even if I presented as more stereotypically female or male they’d still get the impression that I’m different than other adults by the way i move: I run and hang upside down on the monkey bars, I climb into small spaces and lie on the ground. But I do think that being read as “in-between” in gender adds to my representing an “in-between” adult.

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