In recent years, however, we’ve seen a trend come about: parents are now choosing to raise their kids in “gender neutral” ways, eliminating any preconceptions about what a child should like or not like based on the sex they’re assigned at birth, in varying degrees.
We decided to completely frustrate our friends and families: we decided to wait until our baby is born to find out if we are having a boy or a girl. Several people have had a hard time with this, but as a not very “girly girl” and a boy whose favorite color was pink growing up, we just weren’t that pressed to find out. Not to mention, we were really looking forward to the surprise. To have a fun baby shower with our friends we decided what could be more fun and gender neutral than tie-dye!
I don’t want to raise my daughter thinking that this is what it means to be a lady — that the prevailing pink culture is what defines femininity. I want her to know it’s okay to get muddy, that it’s alright to wear Mutant Ninja Turtle shoes if she wants because these things won’t make her any less a girl.
My fiance and I aren’t having a baby yet, but we’re trying to conceive and have already decided that we don’t want to find out the sex of the child until delivery. I have a lot of family and friends who will likely want host a baby shower for me, but I’m not sure how to convey the idea of gender-neutrality to them.
Well, a lot has been said and written about queer parenting in recent years, but most of this commentary ignores the opportunity to actually engage queer theory and instead simply equates queer parenting with LGBT people raising children. But what happens when we attempt to apply the insights of queer theory to our relationships with children?
My son is newly two-years-old, and has long, blonde, curly hair. Aside from the fact that it’s usually a bit wild, it pretty much looks like the kind you’d find on toddler beauty queens — and we have no intentions of cutting it any time soon. Sure, we’re nearly constantly bombarded with mis-assumptions about his sex due to his hair, and family members are always quick to ask us when we’re going to finally cut it.
I was recently interviewed for an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about gender-neutral parenting. The response to the article included a lot of people fretting about how gender-neutral parenting supposedly “denies” a child from having a gender. Well, here’s why that’s a load of hooey.
We want Avie to feel as unrestrained by gender as possible. We began by giving him a gender-neutral name and attempting to dress him in neutral colors and patterns. As he gets older, we validate and encourage his emotions, and intend to support him in whatever interests he develops.