The Challenges of Gender-Neutral Parenting

Video Credit: The New Yorker - Duration: 09:08s - Published
The Challenges of Gender-Neutral Parenting

The Challenges of Gender-Neutral Parenting

After two parents decide to raise their baby as gender neutral, they discover that gender-creative parenting comes with its own set of worries and challenges.

[relaxing music]- [Father] I think on ourfirst date we talked about,"Do you want kids?"- [Mother] A lot of people,their initial reaction is,"Oh this is so different,it must be wrong."- [Father] "What if I'mnot being the right dad?"Or not being the right mom?"Or "What if what I'm doingis really damaging them?"and some people can get reallylike, personally offendedlike, "how dare you do this?".[heart beat][laughing]- I was very excited lookingaround our tiny apartmentlike, where are we gonna put a baby?- [Mother] Keep trying.- [Father] Baby crepe, un-crepe the baby.- Whatcha eatin' Grey?I was so excited to parent,I've wanted to be a parentsince I was 16 years old.It's one of the most challengingand also one of the most rewarding thingsI've ever done in my life.[baby cooing]What do you think, Kiddo?There you go.- [Father] [grunt] gotta get the booty in.The question of, is thisa boy is this a girl,as long as that's still an unknown,people act much more neutrally.So, if we're raisingGrey in a gender neutralslash gender creative way,Grey can be who they want to bewithout the strictures that societyputs on so many kids so early on.- [Mother] See all the birds?Look there's another one!- From the minute someonefinds out a child's sex,the tone of your voice,the way that you speak,the way that you handle a child, changesin little ways that most people go,"oh it's not a big deal",but it can be because it builds up.- These unconscious biasesthat we hold around gender,they absolutely frame the pathsthat our children thinkthat they can go down.- The ones that are born with penisesget much more rougher handledand peoples voices get lower and,"oh you're a tough guy, buddy"and "hi princess", highervoices, softer tone.We really wanted to minimize thatas much as humanly possible,because without those expectationskids are free to bewhoever they want to be.We really wanted everyone to treat Greythee way you would any other child,regardless of gender.I was born and raised in rural Wyoming.I always knew I was different,I couldn't put my finger on what it was.I think my mom wanted a veryfeminine, girly girl daughter.I wore a lot of pink dresses.I knew pretty immediately,something about this isn't right,but I just didn't know whowas safe, what was safe.On the inside I felt alone and isolated,and at times afraid,and when things really became overwhelmingand seemingly unapproachable,I would turn to suicidal thoughts.But luckily, I had family andfriends who were there for me.I remember eating dinner, Iremember looking at them going,"when am I gonna grow my penis?"Both my parents were just kind of frozenand then they had to be like,"oh, you don't grow one."- [Older Man] The amazing Tiffany.- "How do you know that you're queer?",like everybody questions it.- [Older Man] All right just talk to me.- [Mother] It's so silly, 'causeif you flip it, you're like"how did you know you were straight?",why would you ever ask that,it's just like the assumptionthat you're straight,and so I struggled a lot with that.I think about all ofthe people that I knowwho are trans or non-binarywho's experiences growing upwere traumatic, and I think knowing that,I want to be a parent who hopefullyis creating space formy child to trust me,because I'm showing that I trust them.[crowd cheering]You ready?Sorry, excuse us.- [Spectator] How old is she?- They are 15 months old.We actually use they/them pronounsfor Grey- Oh!- until they tell us who they arethat's why you were like "who?

What?"- Oh, wow.All right so...- They.- They, awesome.Well enjoy the pride parade.- Did you say thank you?

Thank you![upbeat music]We are pulling apart this idea of sex,which is related to genitals,and gender which is relatedto how you move in the world.So what you wear,how you share youridentity with other people,all of those things are related to gender,whereas sex is really biology,genitals, that's about it.- I mean we're lucky, we have...We're in the best, we're probablyin one of the best placeswe could be in, being in Brooklyn,to find some really good inclusive schoolsthat are gonna respect what we're doin'.- Like regardless, peopleare gonna gender our kid.I know we're gonna have a conversationas they get a little bit olderabout like, what their genitalsare expected to mean at somepoint and that will be relatedto why people will genderyou in a certain way.'Cause you don't want them to feelall that stigma and shame that you've...You're already feelingand filtering for them,but then the hard part is isthey're engaging in the world.- And this could justbe me but it feels likea lot of people are quick to, they're like"oh yeah you're gonna mess up your kids",and it's like, well...- [Group Member] So are you.[group chuckles]- I mean, every parenthas learned somethingfrom the parents before them.I mean, when we were kidsI don't remember wearing a seatbelt.Like ever.[group chuckles]- Grey's gonna grow upand probably experiencesome shame and stigma aroundthe way that we raised them,and that's okay,and we're gonna have to haveconversations about that.And also talk about why wemade the decisions we made.- [Older Woman] Who's the baby?How old is he?Or her?How old are they?- They're 20 months.- [Older Woman] 20?

You have two of them?- No, so we use the singular they.Like if we-- you know ifyou don't know if someoneuses he or she, you say they.- I don't think, I don't thinkyou have to prepare them,I think they alreadyare prepared at birth.They ju-- this happens naturally.'Cause I think what you're doingis you're changing the pattern of life.Where I just allowed the child--I mean I have so manypeople, little girls thatI thought were so feminine,but they turned out to be very masculine.- That's basically whatwe're doing in a different way- and that's what you're doingyou're doing it in a..- everything is an optionand they'll decide- well you're doing it, Ididn't do it and let it become.- [Mother] They talked a more earlier.- Yeah, I think you're pretty snoozy, kid.[jazz music]- The cameras.Hey.Gender creative parenting is only thislike tiny facet of whatwe're doing as parents.We're making hundreds ofdecisions every single day.- [Father] What booksdo you read your child,or what toys do you let them play with?Did you do bottles, did you do formula,did you breastfeed, did you do both,did you do this, did you do that?- Grey, come pick.- [Father] For me the hardest thingis sometimes other parentsbeing really critical- What do you wanna wear?- We're not sayingeveryone has to do this,we're not saying thatthis is for everyone,but for us, this is one ofthose things of risk mitigationis what we're trying to accomplish.As long as they're happy,that's really all that matters to us.- [Woman] Oh look who's up.- [Mother] You're in your birthday outfit!- Our families are really supportiveand they try really hard,and sometimes they make mistakes.At our daycare, they're trying.It's in our file that weuse they/them pronouns.- Really the goal here is,it's not about me tryingto force anything on Grey,it's actually the exact opposite.And we don't know their gender yet,and when they tell us, they'll tell us.And it might change overtime and that's okay too.♪ Happy birthday too you ♪♪ Happy birthday dear, Gray ♪♪ Happy birthday too you♪[group laughing and cheering]

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