Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

TV Episode on Youth Football Spotlights Gender-Fluid Athlete

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

TV Episode on Youth Football Spotlights Gender-Fluid Athlete

Article excerpt

The following CORRECTION/CLARIFICATION appeared on April 6, 2016.Sara Markusic's last name was misspelled in a story Tuesday about her 8-year-old child being gender-fluid.

When Abby Scott of Monaca was 2, she told her parents she was a boy. As she grew, she disdained playing with Barbie and learned to play football.

For the past two years, the 8-year-old has refused to wear dresses or to let her mother do her long, curly hair, which has now been cut short. When a family member mentioned getting married someday, she said she would be wearing a tuxedo.

"She doesn't want to do anything girly," said her mother, Sara Markusic.

And that's just fine by Ms. Markusic and Abby's father, James Scott, who, like the rest of Abby's family, and mostly all of her classmates, teachers, teammates, friends and neighbors respect that Abby is a gender-fluid child, who identifies most of the time with being a boy. And when Abby is identifying as a boy - such as when she plays football or is wrestling - she prefers to be known as Adam.

Abby's gender-fluid story will be featured tonight at 10 on "Friday Night Tykes: Steel Country," Esquire Network's reality series about football in Beaver County. Adam is a lineman for the Monaca Little Indians, playing in a league with boys who are years older. Besides Monaca, other teams on the series are Aliquippa, Ambridge, Beaver Falls, Blackhawk and Central Valley.

With Monaca's team numbers down because of injuries, head coach Ricky Suman's staff called up players from the younger program. "Adam's probably one of the young kids who has the most potential. ... I just feel with the options we're down to, Adam is our best bet," he says in the episode.

Being featured on the show was happenstance: The film crew overheard Ms. Markusic tell the coach that Abby preferred to be known as Adam on the field. They asked the mother if she would feel comfortable sharing her child's story with the show's viewers.

"If it helps one family to accept their child for who they are, then I feel I'm doing my job," Ms. Markusic said in a telephone interview. "I just accept her. She's a great kid. People try to form their kids into what they want. You can't do that. You have to let children be themselves. We stress that and let her be herself and accept her no matter what."

Mr. Suman said in the show that "I'm not going to judge you because you want to be a boy, or called a different name, whatever. You're still here to play football."

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics' website HealthChildren.org, "Most children's gender identity aligns with their biological sex. However, for some children, the match between biological sex and gender identity is not so clear. For some young children, expressing a wish to be or identifying as another gender may be temporary; for others, it is not. …

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