Expecting couples are always asked what gender their baby is going to be. We tend to think of gender as a pretty important thing to know ahead of time. If we're expecting a little one, we want to know if we need to decorate the nursery in pinks or blues and what kinds of baby clothes to buy. The same thing is true for our family and friends who want to shower our baby with love and give us some gifts.
By now we have most likely heard of the phrase gender neutral. There are many parents who have decided to raise their children without gender for a variety of reasons. They might not like the stereotypical and traditional boy/girl toys and social and cultural expectations, or maybe they have another more personal reason.
It's definitely best to stay open-minded and understand where parents are coming from. Everyone needs to raise their kid the way that they feel is best. How do family members or the people in these families' lives feel about this? Read on to find out about 20 parents who are raising their children without gender and what their family members think about it.
Kyl Myers is raising her child gender neutral and it's her parents and child's grandparents who had a specific reaction to it.
According to The Independent, "When Myers gave birth to Zoomer, she decided to keep their anatomy a secret from Zoomer’s grandparents so they would realise Myers was serious about her decision and her dedication to raising her child this way - and so they would become comfortable using the correct pronouns." The article continued,
"But, according to Myers, Zoomer’s grandparents initially felt they were missing out on valuable experiences, such as bathing their grandchild."
It's easy to understand how grandparents would feel that way but many of us would agree that it's up to the parents to choose how to best raise their child.
Callie and Caleb Glorioso-Mays are raising their child gender neutral as well. They told The Mirror that their reason is so their kid "will never see their sex as a 'hindrance or excuse'."
This couple also told The Mirror how their relatives reacted: "'In general the 'negative' feedback from friends and family members has more often come from a place of confusion than of true disagreement. It's hard for people to understand why we let our son wear a hair bow, for instance.'"
Hopefully as time goes on we will become more used to different ways of raising children and this won't be so confusing to so many families.
We can see how some families would be confused by a decision to raise a child without gender, but we would hope that there are some positive stories about understanding and compassion, right? For Beck Laxton and her partner, it seems like perhaps the family was okay with it because they were in the know (or at least that's what we would all hope was the case).
The Daily Mail says that this couple didn't talk about their baby's gender "so he would not be influenced by society's prejudices and preconceptions."
The article also said "Only a handful of immediate family members were told of the baby's gender."
Katy Chatel is raising her child without gender as well, and she had the experience of a not so understanding family friend.
She wrote in The Washington Post that she believes in raising her child this way because, "Individuals should be free to express gender as they see fit. I had been told that genderization starts in utero. Witnessing it made it feel all the more ridiculous."
She shared, "I even had a family friend warn me, “You better like yellow because everything you’re gonna get will be yellow unless you fess up.” It's pretty tough that people feel the need to say things like that and that they can't be more compassionate.
For Julia and Nate Sharpe, it seems like it's going well except relatives don't really get the whole pronoun thing. As Nbc News reported, "When Julia found out she was pregnant, she felt conflicted about learning the sex of the twins. As a female engineer in a male-dominated profession, she understood the constraints of gender expectations firsthand."
The article mentions that "Family, friends and day care workers struggle with they/them pronouns, and not everyone understands the Sharpes’ decision to keep the children’s sex private."
It seems like many couples have had the experience of others not understanding the right pronouns to use.
For a woman named Miranda, she is raising her child to be gender neutral and calling them "hen" which is a Swedish word. According to a story on Vice.com, it seems like she has noticed that people who are older than she is have trouble understanding why a parent would make this decision.
She told Vice.com, "When older people want to give a compliment to a child, it's often expressed within a gender stereotype. They say stuff like, 'You're my big strong boy,' or 'Aren't you a cute little princess?'"
She mentioned that her family is understanding and careful about what to call her child, which is definitely awesome.
There are some families who have had really positive experiences raising their children as gender neutral. That was the case for one mom who blogs at Twin Cities and she wrote,
"After our son was born, we quickly learned sex and gender did not matter as much as we initially thought it would."
She continued, "Colors, clothes, and toys do not have genders–gender is neutral in our house. Our daughter has been helping in Daddy’s workshop since before she could walk. Our son likes to get into my lipstick while I am in the shower." That sounds lovely and charming.
For the Glorioso-Mays couple from Maryland, USA, they are raising both of their children to be gender neutral. As The Sun reported, "Callie and Caleb say that they aren’t parenting in this way to be controversial or to show off - they just think that both of their children should be given the same opportunities and encouragement in life."
Callie told the publication that "she does get mixed reactions from the public."
We can see that while we would hope that everyone would be full of compassion, some people are confused or need more time, and that might be the case for many couples.
Some couples who decide to raise their child without gender also make the choice not to tell a lot of people.
That makes sense since you never know if people are going to understand or if they're going to be confused and say something mean.
One couple from Sweden didn't tell anyone except close family which gender their child, named Pop, was. Pop's mother said to The Local Sweden, “We want Pop to grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mold from the outset. It's cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead.”
The story of Storm Stocker-Witterick in Canada is a famous one. It was an early case of parents raising their baby as gender neutral. As reported by The Toronto Star, the parents decided to raise her gender neutral. At five years old, she said she was a girl.
This is an interesting case since we might assume that if the parents have decided to raise their child gender neutral, then the child would essentially go along with that since they are so young. But sometimes, a child will say what gender they are, and parents will, of course, agree since they want only the best things for their child.
Some families feel that raising their children as gender neutral is the best thing because gender stereotypes are so upsetting.
It's definitely true that we expect children to play with toys based on whether they're a boy or a girl.
That's just something that we tend to accept and we might not even realize that we're doing it.
Royce and Jessica James are raising their child to be gender neutral. They told NPR that for them, it's about getting rid of stereotypes and that includes playing with Barbie dolls. The mom said, "We're not going to be getting her baby dolls and Barbies. We want her to have open-ended free play toys."
This is a unique story: a mom named Susan Knoppow raised her kid, Miriam, as a daughter and then her daughter said that she is gender non-binary. The mom is super supportive and has decided to go along with it, and that is just so beautiful to hear. After all, at the end of the day, a parent wants to help their child be happy and do what feels right.
Susan wrote in the Detroit Free Press, "As a parent, I am doing everything I can to expand the universe in which my child and other non-binary people can feel comfortable. That’s what an ally does. I’ve had conversations about gender identity with my parents and with cab drivers, with my closest friends and with checkout clerks."
Kori Doty, a parent in British Columbia, is raising their child without gender. They are a non-binary transgender person and they were in the news a lot because they didn't want their baby's gender on the birth certificate. The baby was given a health card that said "U" where the gender is and that was the first time that ever happened.
Thankfully, the people in their lives have been great about it: as Kori told Today.com, "We live in an incredible community where my non-binary identity is understood and celebrated and my choice to not assign Sea a gender has landed very easily for folks who know our family."
Leah Jacobs is raising her child to be "gender creative." Her sister is supportive but another relative is not.
While it's great that her sibling can understand where she's coming from, it would definitely be great if everyone was more compassionate.
As Sbs.com.au reported, her sister is fine with it but another relative was really upset. As Leah told the publication, “I think it was very disturbing for her on a really deep level, and she told me all of the ways that she found it disturbing. How we’re forcing our beliefs on other people. We’re forcing other people to adhere to our belief system. We could be damaging our child. She likened it to if I had joined an extreme religious sect and was trying to proselytise my religious beliefs.”
Lisa and Martin are bringing up Max as gender neutral. Lisa told The Huffington Post UK, "Once we explain how we are bringing our son up, and why, people tend to understand. I hope that Max won't get teased when he's older. But part of what we are trying to do with Max is to instil such a sense of confidence, and a sense of who he is, that he won't care what anyone else thinks."
It's nice to hear that when people hear the reason why they're raising their child this way, they get it and are on board. After all, sometimes we just need a bit more information; we want to know what someone is thinking and feeling. It's beautiful that parents are raising their children in a way that feels right to them.
Sometimes, a couple will choose to raise their child without gender, and see if their child decides that they want to be one gender over the other once they're a bit older. It's an interesting idea and would be a great way to ensure that you're doing what is right and best for your child.
And if you ever heard some not-so-nice comments from relatives, you could always say, "This is what he or she wants."
As Sbs.com.au reported, an anonymous parent living in the Pacific Northwest said, "Around 3, our kid was just like, ‘I’m a girl.'" The parents said, "‘Oh, yay, we’ve always wanted a girl. You’re amazing. Welcome.’"
Every parent wants to feel like they're part of a community. You want to talk to others who are on this parenting journey and you want to connect, and that's something that everyone deserves.
A parent shared on Reddit that finding a parenting group was the tough part. They wrote, "The problem I had trying to find a “gender neutral parenting group” when I was looking for a ‘mommy group’ online was that they were anything but gender neutral. The feel I got was that girls were punished for wanting to play with traditionally girly things and boys were praised. “Look how cute my boy looks in this dress!” “My girl wants to play with baby dolls; how do I stop her?”
It seems that Storm's parents didn't tell other family members about raising their child without gender. As Baby Gaga says, "Kathy and David chose to raise their third child as gender neutral, revealing the sex of the baby only to their two older sons who were then aged 2 and 5, and one close family friend."
It makes sense to only tell people who you are sure will get it and be kind about it, and who are part of your inner circle.
You trust them and know that they'll be supportive.
It seems like many parents who are raising their children without gender would be able to relate to this.
Other times, a couple doesn't want to tell anyone what the gender of their child is, not even close family or a few select people.
A mom named Julia was quoted in a story on Baby Gaga and she said about her decision to raise her child gender neutral, “We read about how from when they're 20-week fetuses, they're already starting to be gendered, and people are calling the little girls ‘princesses,’ and buying certain things for different children. We wanted to prevent that, so that's how it started. And then about a couple weeks before they were born, (my husband suggested), ‘What if we didn't tell people ever?’”
Baby Gaga also quoted Beck Laxton, the mom of Sasha, who she is raising to be gender neutral: "Miss Laxton said,
'I wanted to avoid all that stereotyping. Stereotypes seem fundamentally stupid. Why would you want to slot people into boxes?'
The couple finally revealed Sasha’s gender when they began primary school when it became a challenge to conceal."
It's true that when your child begins school, you'll have to make some parenting choices around that time, like making sure that they're potty trained.
It's definitely up to the parents to decide how to best raise their children, and it's inspiring to hear the stories of those who are doing just that.