In trans director Silas Howard's movie A Kid Like Jake (out today), liberal urbanites Alex and Greg (Claire Danes and Jim Parsons) go head-to-head with one of Brooklyn's greatest villains: the education system.
At risk is their 4-year-old son, Jake (Leo James Davis), who's just been zoned into a less desirable public school for kindergarten. At the urging of his preschool director Judy (Octavia Spencer), the pair engage in the hypercompetitive sport of listing his special talents and personality traits for private school applications. Why not emphasize Jake's "gender-expansive play?" Judy suggests. "This is a card you could play." What begins as a strategy -- Jake does, in fact, role-play as a princess -- takes a dark turn for this otherwise enlightened couple.
Are they defining Jake's gender identity too soon, and will he be bullied as a result? And how much of their concern is really just their own discomfort? In a moment when progressive families are considering how to raise children without gender (a recent New York article dubbed them "theybies"), the hysteria of the film captures the messy, misguided thinking that even the most well-meaning parents sometimes turn to when raising a kid like Jake.