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The Washington Post has an amazing story this week about Zephyrus Todd, who -- under the name of Sylvia -- amazed America as a natural science child prodigy.
It started with a web show on making robots. It got very popular and soon Todd was invited to the White House to meet the president. There were science fairs, interviews and TV appearances.
But “Super Awesome Sylvia” wasn’t really a Sylvia.
He finally came out to his family in the end, and was accepted as who he was.
Now, you may be tempted to see this as an affirmation of gender stereotypes. To be a natural science geek you have to be a boy.“Do you want to just shut it down?” [his father] James asked Zeph one day. He meant the show, and Super Awesome Sylvia. To erase and move past that whole chunk of a life.
But Zeph didn't want that.
“I was this girl role model at one point,” he said. “I didn't want it to just end.”
So he decided to keep Sylvia alive, as art — a drawing, a brainy girl character who both is him and is not.
Zeph drew her into a comic strip, explaining his transition. He sends it to people who still write to him, asking Sylvia to make an appearance.
What I found especially interesting about this article was therefore that Zephyrus isn’t really so much into natural science.
His love of robots also points in a more artistic direction. He created the WaterColorBot, a collaborative project from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories and him — a friendly art robot that moves a paint brush to paint your digital artwork onto paper, using a set of watercolor paints.
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When Zephyrus painted his pink girl’s room blue that was a strong symbolic act, but boys and girls are not wired for art and science respectively.
Girls and boys, trans or cis, may be wired for feeling and living as a girl or a boy or something in between, but not for specific interests or abilities.