Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have hit headlines recently after their 8-year-old daughter, Shiloh, headed down the red carpet with a short hair cut and dressed in a suit.
The Hollywood couple have revealed that their oldest child now wants to be addressed as “John,” sparking a debate on social media and among psychology experts.
In 2008, Pitt spoke with Oprah Winfrey about acting, his relationship with Jolie and what it’s like to be the parents of six children, Bustle reports. During the interview, the actor also told Winfrey a quick story about Shiloh.
“She only wants to be called John,” Pitt said. “John or Peter. So it’s a Peter Pan thing. So, we’ve got to call her John. ‘Shi, do you want —’ ‘John. I’m John.’ And then I’ll say, ‘John, would you like some orange juice?’ And she goes, ‘No!’”
In 2010, Jolie talked to Vanity Fair about John’s gender identity, which the 8-year-old’s family fully supports, according to In Touch Weekly.
“She wants to be a boy,” Jolie said. “So we had to cut her hair. She likes to wear boys’ everything. She thinks she’s one of the brothers.”
Clinical psychologist Linda Blair says it’s important for parents to not jump to conclusion when it comes to their child experimenting with gender identity.
“Usually with a child, especially children with older siblings of the opposite gender, it’s normal to want to copy them and be like them,” Blair told The Telegraph. “That’s quite a normal phase for a lot of kids.”
She adds: “To explore what it means to be both genders is also totally normal. But the problem is we have suppressed it for so many generations, that people are still uncomfortable with it. You can’t become what you are until you know what you’re not.”