Hollywood recently unveiled yet another of many feature films for the holiday season, this one the ambitious World War II era character study, Unbroken. It was directed by Angelina Jolie, and while I haven’t seen it yet, the topic looks fascinating. When it came time for the red carpet activities, though, Jolie’s family had to step in for her and do a quick turn for the cameras. Here’s one photo from the event, featuring husband Brad Pitt and several of their children.
That’s a handsome group of fellows, isn’t it? But if you look a bit closer there’s a bit of a mystery here. The blond haired child in the center isn’t actually a boy at all. It’s Jolie’s eight year old daughter by birth, Shiloh. Susan Goldberg at PJ Media caught this story recently, in which we discover that Shiloh “identifies as a male” and chooses to go by the name John. This tale was oh so politically correctly highlighted by Refinery 29.
Angelina Jolie’s entire family recently stepped out on the red carpet to support their mother’s new movie, Unbroken. The couple’s oldest biological child, who was assigned female at birth, joined brothers Maddox and Pax wearing sharp suits and short haircuts.
Pitt and Jolie have been fairly open over the years about Shiloh’s interest in all things considered masculine. In an interview with Oprah in 2008, Brad Pitt discussed how Shiloh wanted to be called John.
The eight-year-old’s family fully supports their decision to self-identify — from an affinity for suits and ties to shorter hair to the name change.
While you pick your jaws up off the floor, I’ll offer up this example of the great lengths the reporter went to in order to ensure that nobody’s gender sensibilities were offended.
Editor’s Note: We have followed the Advocate’s lead, and referred to John Jolie-Pitt as “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun to respect John’s decision, whatever gender they may end up being.
While I generally try to avoid all things Hollywood in my own writing, this story has to make one wonder precisely how things went so far off track as to come to this turn of events. Goldberg has a theory:
Probably about as dumb as the Advocate grasping at straws via the stale tale of Shiloh Pitt, who apparently has been dressed in boyswear and given boyishly short haircuts by her parents since she was a toddler. Four years later, why wouldn’t an 8-year-old girl think she ought to be called “John”? If anything she’s aiming for a more defined gender identity than her parents have yet to give her, either through her name, her hair, or her clothing, let alone the gender-neutral pronouns being used to identify her in the media.
What is to become of this little girl in the future? And given the massive media attention paid to her parents and all things related to them, how can a new generation of children – most of whom have smart phones and tablets by the age of 8 these days – avoid thinking that there is something normal about this?
Young girls who grow up in a household with brothers can frequently take on tomboy characteristics. I observed that myself while growing up, visiting two male cousins at my Uncle’s farm. Their younger sister would traipse along with us (generally to our annoyance) and was frequently dressed in jeans and tee shirts since we were out playing on the farm. But she kept her birth name, and after puberty struck she was quickly wearing dresses and “girly” clothes, obsessing over boys and doing all the things that teenage girls do. There’s really nothing unusual about that at all.
But when media exposure changes the child’s perspective from wanting to go search for turtles and snakes with her brother to a reevaluation of her gender and switching to a masculine name, the car of that family is heading for the ditch. An eight year old knows nothing of sexuality and “gender identification” and, frankly, doesn’t need to know anything about it. She needs to have time to be a kid and do all the silly, fun things that kids do without worrying about such adult notions.
Shiloh may still turn around in a few years and become “Shiloh” again. But in the meantime, children around the world are looking at her and thinking, “I wonder if that’s who I am too?” This is not a solution. It’s a problem.