A six-week-old kitten is pushing gender boundaries in conservative Huntsville, Alabama, maintaining the name given her shortly after birth, before her sex had been determined, even after it was revealed that "Johnny” – named for recently deceased legendary folk singer John Prine – is biologically a female.
“She makes no apologies for who she is, which is so refreshing,” said Johnny’s human companion, Terri Barr, explaining that despite Johnny's attachment to her “male” name, she seems to prefer gender pronouns she/her (especially when the “she” is drawn out as “shhheeee"). “I hope that never changes.”
Johnny’s unabashed challenge to traditional gender norms has evoked some pushback in Huntsville. “A girl pussy named Johnny – sorta the opposite of a boy named Sue," said self-described ornery old-timer 78-year-old Calvin Hicks, referring to the 1969 song written by Shel Silverstein and made famous by Johnny Cash. “Nothin’ against the cat, per se. It’s just peculiar.”
According to Terri, however, feline Johnny seeks not understanding, but merely acceptance - an acceptance which she gladly offers in return. “Never once has she tried to pigeonhole me into a sex or gender role. Honestly, there's probably a whole lot I could learn from her," said Terri, cradling the purring kitten in her arms. She chuckled. “In other words, she’s smarter than me, more politically correct than me, and, obviously, way cuter than me. She’s lucky I can even stand to be around her.”
“Meow,” said Johnny.