My partner would tell me I was being rude whenever, during pregnancy, people would ask me what we were having and instead of saying, “We don’t know yet,” or “We’re waiting til they come to find out,” I would reply, “A human.” I’d offer nothing else, almost like I was trying to circumvent the discussion of my kid’s genitals altogether. . . because I was, and for me there was no more polite way of having that discussion. “A human” is what I would muster instead of saying, “Does it matter to you?”. That would have been rude.
Besides the fact that my job is to consider and separate how capitalism has constructed color palettes to correspond with genitalia, yesterday I got the birth certificates for both of my kids and that meant filling out paperwork. Filling out paperwork means scrutinizing and editing to make it more inclusive. First, I crossed out “Father” and wrote “2nd Parent” (on the actual birth certificate, Father is listed as 1st Parent, like the one who incubated and birthed the kid is an afterthought. . . but I won’t get into that now. Let’s just say I’m not surprised). Then, I crossed out “Gender” and wrote “Sex.” Sex is biological, gender is cultural. Get with it, 21st century paperwork.
When I refer to Felix as he/him, I am talking literally about his biology. What is in his underpants. Had we had an intersex child, we would probably raise them as they/them until they decide. One could argue that we are making mistakes all over the place, like if we would, hypothetically, raise a biologically intersex kid as gender neutral, why don’t we raise all of our children as nonbinary, they/them kiddos with non-gendered names? This is where I loop back around to the part that when I refer to our kids as “he” and “her,” it’s literally about their sex. Their gendered names are things they can change if they identify differently as they get older. Chastise me, praise me, none of this affects people outside of our own family, so please respect our parenting decision and take comfort in knowing if we fucked something up, we will listen to our kids when they tell us we fucked up. My point here is that for this first part of my kid's life, we are calling them him/he because Felix was born with a tiny penis. As for Felix’ gender and his own chosen pronouns, he can figure that out later. Iris did.
We work at a farmers’ market every weekend, and I encourage use of they/them pronouns when I talk about my own kids as well as others’ kids. Or at least I did with Iris until last year. Two of our closest friends are nonbinary. My own pronouns are she/her they/them. Iris decided, one day when a stranger asked me if she was a girl or a boy and I responded, “A person,” that she prefers she/her pronouns. She identifies as a girl. She was four years old. Half of her head is shaved, she loves glitter and reading about space, and now when I refer to her as she/her, I’m talking about her gender. How she personally identifies.
So, we’ve got two kids: a boy and a girl. We’re raising them the same way. They get to share toys. Iris asked to keep her old dresses in case he wants to wear them. We’re growing out his hair until he chooses a haircut (though we do maintenance on the initial toddler mullet phase). He’s wearing all of the colors. We avoided ruffles with Iris and we’re avoiding ruffles with him. We avoided “pretty girl” clothes for her and we are avoiding “strong boy” clothes for him. We’ve lobbed off the end of the gender spectrum for this initial part of our babies’ lives. As they enter toddlerhood and begin picking what appeals to them, we go with it. As Iris entered childhood, she decided she’d like me to call her Iris, not them Iris. My partner has slightly different views on this (I’ve never heard her refer to Iris as they, but she does refer to kids we don’t know as “they/them” and encourages Iris to ask if they are a boy/girl if she is curious), and that’s totally fine.
Why are we raising our kids without pink and blue and trucks and dolls? We’re not. They each get all of it and everything in between. We just hope those we love support our decision to raise our kids without gender roles, and if not support it, at least respect it. Cue my favorite cliche Dr. Suess quote, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because in the end those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter.”