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I was surprised and delighted on Christmas Day to be presented with a lovely and unique gift from President Obama: a photograph of the president wearing a tiara, surrounded by similarly crowned Girl Scouts, who had participated in a White House science fair. POTUS had defied his self-professed rule to "not put stuff on your head if you're president," and I could not be more impressed.

Of course, the haters were hating. I briefly looked over the outraged online rants in response to the photo. They were generally homophobic.

At the storybook theme park where I work, we sell four different types of tiaras, and we sell many of them to boys. We often welcome boys who are wearing tutus, and, being who we are, we encourage all forms of imagination-driven play. Members of our staff recently attended a training session about young children and gender presented by an Alameda County program called First 5. One of the takeaways was that a child's biology, gender expression and gender identity are three separate things, and sexual orientation is a fourth. For example, you may have a child who is biologically female, prefers to dress in traditionally "boy clothes," but identifies as a girl.

We're lucky to live in a community that really does encourage kids to be who they are. We're taking what we've learned about the often complicated issue of gender in young people to make our camp registration forms more inclusive of "gender expansiveness," and to ensure that there will never be a "pink aisle" in our gift shop.

A few years ago, I met Cheryl Kilodavis, an African-American mom from Seattle who had just written a wonderful children's picture book that tells the story of a boy -- the character is based on Cheryl's son Dyson, who was then five -- who wears dresses and tiaras and whose authenticity is celebrated by his family.


What does her son Dyson think of the president of the United States photographed wearing a tiara? "I want our president to know that love is peace, love is hope. And love is best with a tiara on!" he says.

With a Perspective, I'm CJ Hirschfield.

CJ Hirschfield is executive director of Children's Fairyland in Oakland.