Friday, August 18, 2006

JonBenet and Mikey

I'm guessing you have no idea who this child is. His name is Mikey Vallejo-Seiber, and he was three years old when he was murdered by his mother's boyfriend. His mother and the boyfriend began trial this week.

As pictures of JonBenet Ramsey once again fill newspapers and TV shows, one has to wonder what makes one murdered child a national news story and another murdered child a footnote.

My heart broke when I read this story on Gender Pac.

The wrote, "Mendoza, who was openly critical of Mikey's upbringing, attempted to "toughen up" the toddler by calling him a "sissy" who needed to be toughened up, slapping him, and urging him to beat up his Elmo doll, according to the toddler's mother. The three-year-old died in the hospital after suffering massive internal injuries from being kicked, punched, and dropped on the head while in Mendoza's care."

According to Gender Pac, he's not the only boy child who has been killed because of gender variant behavior. How many children will die -- or live agonized lives -- because they don't fit into our cultural stereotypes of how boys and girls, and men and women, should behave? Children's Medical Center in Washington, D.C. has an excellent program for parents with gender variant children; Genderpac is starting a new program called "Children As They Are." The 2004 update of my book "From Diapers to Dating: A Parent's Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Children" has a section for parents on gender variant children.

Isaiah 56:5, talking about the known sexual minority of the time, wrote, "To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name, better than sons and daughters. I will give them an everlasting name." May Mickey Vallejo-Seiber become such a name.

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Anonymous said...

Interesting...this JonBenet thing is just too bizarre...

Anonymous said...

This is very touching. I found myself thinking, when the JonBenet story led every other story on the morning TV news shows, of all the little children who have died in the past weeks from the wars and terrorism in Lebanon, Israel and Iraq, in the genocide in Darfur and from HIV/AIDS in Africa. These children are and always will be anonymous to us. I take comfort in Jesus’s words, “suffer the little children to come unto me.”

Anonymous said...

Thank you Debra for this post--it fills me with sadness to read. I commend you for bearing witness to this tragedy.

I also think about how gender roles played out in the media attention to JonBenet's murder. Her hyperfeminine presentation (plus the fact that there were so many images of her from her modeling/pageant career) made the case get more attention than it would have otherwise.

Anonymous said...

You asked why the national media did not report on Mikey but they did on JonBenet. The answer is simple, "White Female".

BAC said...

This is the section of your post I find most disturbing: According to Gender Pac, he's not the only boy child who has been killed because of gender variant behavior.

Many little kids at 3 years old don't fit neatly into a specific gender identity -- they are all over the place, depending mostly on their mood on any given day.

A few years ago, while visiting a friend, her little four year old boy wanted us to play "Sleeping Beauty" -- and you guessed it, HE wanted to be Sleeping Beauty. It was great fun.

Just a few weeks after that visit, a little girl came to my door on Halloween dressed in a Superman costume. When I commented on what a great Supergirl she was, she emphatically corrected me saying she was "SuperMAN."

This precious little boy was only three years old. At three you shouldn't have to fit neatly into a gender-specific category. Heck, you shouldn't have to fit into one at 33 or 103!

We need to challenge the media to tell these stories.