TODAY   |  September 03, 2013

Parents raise boy as gender creative

Matt and Lori Duron say they are raising their son to be gender creative, allowing him to play with dolls and wear dresses. NBC’s Mike Taibbi reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back at 8:43. we all want our kids to be happy but how would you react if your young son showed a preference for playing with dolls and wearing girls clothes. she wrote the book raising my rainbow. raising a fabulous gender creative son. we'll talk to her and her husband in a moment.

>> as i cook dinner he sketches what looks like a girl with long red hair , a blue dress , red shoes , a purple tiara, green eyes , full pink lips. i don't have to ask who the girl in the picture is. i'd recognize him anywhere.

>> the california mom is talking about her son we'll call c.j. a six-year-old who enjoys all the usual kid stuff and also this.

>> which one do you want to wear first?

>> the sassy.

>> he is gender nonconforming, choosing girls clothes, colors and toys ever since the day he discovered his first doll.

>> there was a barbie in mom's closet and i found it and started to like it.

>> reporter: then it was life after barbie . a whole family's dynamic changed.

>> it's a whole different thing when you realize that your son is really into all things girls.

>> reporter: but what about the on going debate about nature versus nurture .

>> our boys, we're raising them with the same parents and same environment and we're getting really different results.

>> reporter: as parents, matt and lori say they follow c.j.'s lead and he self-edits knowing when showing his girl side is a risk and how to answer anyone that questions him.

>> he will say i'm gender nonconforming, that's why. or he'll say this is my style. not everyone in the world has the same style.

>> reporter: she started a blog about raising c.j. and was shocked at the response. 1 million visitors from 170 countries.

>> it was weird for me to realize that this is a global parenting issue.

>> reporter: an issue for all parents looking for a way to love their children no matter what.

>> this is not a choice for us. we are just letting our child be who he was born to be.

>> reporter: a child like c.j. who embraced his nature before his parents did.

>> some people can be different. some people don't have to.

>> reporter: different but safe and supported as so many similar children are not. for today, nbc news, california.

>> lori and her husband matt join us now. good morning to you both of you.

>> good morning.

>> let's start with a basic question. c.j. likes to play with girl things and likes to be treated as a girl. use terms like gender creative and gender non-conforming. what does that mean for you.

>> it all means he's a boy that doesn't go along with what society thinks a boy should be. he is a boy. he knows he's a boy. he likes his boy body but isn't comfortable with what society thinks a boy should be.

>> take me back to the moment when you first realized that he was a little bit different than other boys his age. you talk about going to the barbie aisle. the pink aisle and he lit up.

>> yeah he found a barbie in my closet. he came alive and his entire life we mark by before barbie and after barbie . i took him to the pink aisle which i had been hiding from him because we have boys so we went to the blue aisle and he just lit up.

>> how have you been handling this as a dad. be real honest. has there ever been a moment when you said i wish c.j. would pick up a baseball with me?

>> to be honest, there's a lot of moments like that. there is an evolution process. we have grown leaps and bounds as parents, but there's days of frustration. but the biggest thing in all of this is love your child no matter what. we built a house, love and trust and safe environment and that's the most important thing that i can give to my kids.

>> you can build a safe environment in a home but what you can't control is what happens when you go outside the house. i'm a father of a 6-year-old. going to first grade, one of my great fears is when she goes out and people start making fun of who she is or what she's wearing. how much do you think about that with c.j.

>> i think about it every day. people can be rude and have negative reactions to him. he chooses to self-edit so he has a public personality and private personality but still he'll wear the girl shoes out and the girl socks and necklaces. so we're trying to raise him to be a strong confident person. and hope for the best and then watch out for bullying and teasing.

>> any concerns for you, lori , opening up like this publicly. you have identified him as perhaps gay. you said you don't know if he's fwa, maybe he's transgender. do you think he'll look out and say i wish my mom hadn't put all of that online where it lives forever?

>> i was careful with everything i did and all the choices i made and there's going to be no denying it. he's going to see every picture of him. you can tell that he is gender non-conforming and there's no shame. we're just hoping we can educate people about kids like c.j.

>> he has a great big brother who looks after c.j. again, the book is raising my rainbow. it's a great story. thank you so much.

>> thank you.