A woman has explained why she lets her child create their own gender identity.
Writing for Time, Kyl Myers explained why she is allowing her child to explore their own gender identity.
When Myers fell pregnant, she and her partner Brent "found out our child's sex chromosomes in the early stages of my pregnancy, and we had seen their genitals during the anatomy scan."
But for them, the chromosomes and genitals didn't tell them "anything about our kid's gender."
"The only things we really knew about our baby is that they were human, breech, and going to be named Zoomer."
"We weren't going to assign a gender or disclose their reproductive anatomy to people who didn't need to know, and we were going to use the gender-neutral personal pronouns they, them, and their," she explained.
"We imagined it could be years before our child would tell us, in their own way, if they were a boy, a girl, nonbinary or if another gender identity fits them best. Until then, we were committed to raising our child without the expectations or restrictions of the gender binary."
Before Zoomer was born, it was Myers' job to "study and educate others about gender."
During that time Myers, who has a gender-studies degree and a Ph.D. in sociology, found a "number of students asking me to call them by different names and use different pronouns than they were given at birth grew."
"Being raised as a girl in the Mormon church, it took a long time for me to untangle myself from the conditioning that the only things I should want (and could be good at) were marriage and motherhood."
"Kids fare better in environments where they are accepted for who they are. The negative outcomes that are often experienced by queer and trans youth are mitigated by supportive families and friends," Myers explained.
"The goal of gender-creative parenting is not to eliminate gender—the goal is to eliminate gender-based oppression, disparities and violence. The aim isn't to create a genderless world; it's to contribute to a genderfull one. We as a society have an opportunity to shake up childhood gender socialization in a way that creates more healthy and equitable adulthoods for everyone."
When Myers was pregnant with Zoomer, she would "dream up hypothetical situations with cruel pediatricians refusing to use they/them pronouns and flight attendants treating Zoomer like a stereotype and anxiously think through how I would react to these circumstances."
"I was afraid that my family members might be so nervous about accidentally using a gendered pronoun for Zoomer, so nervous about offending me, that they would distance themselves from us."
But, thankfully, "for the most part, the past 4 years have not been filled with tears and strife (at least no more tears than you'd find in any home of a young child and tired parents)."
Instead, their life "looks remarkably like a lot of other families' lives, filled with joy and affirmation. And color. Lots of color."
"A common critique of gender-creative parenting is that 'the kid will be confused,' but Zoomer doesn't seem confused at all."
Myers describes Zoomer as having a "more nuanced understanding of sex and gender than a lot of adults."
"Zoomer understands that some girls have p**ises and some boys have v*lvas, and some intersex kids have v*lvas and t*stes. Zoomer knows some daddies get pregnant and some nonbinary parents are called Zazas."
Myers and her partner have supportive families who "take it upon themselves to educate their extended family and their co-workers, neighbors and friends."
"We sprang gender-creative parenting on our families, and they decided to get on board," she wrote, "They are champions at using gender-neutral pronouns."
Around Zoomer's 4th birthday, they began "declaring a gender identity and claiming some gendered pronouns."
"Brent and I are honoring Zoomer's identity and expression and answering all their questions in an age-appropriate and inclusive way. (I'm using they here because Zoomer is still exploring gender and I want them to have some autonomy over how they share their identity with the world.)
"I'm witnessing my child create their own gender—and who Zoomer has become is greater than anything I could have imagined or assigned. Instead of us telling the children who they should be, maybe it's the children who will teach us how to be. We just have to get out of their way."
What do you think about raising children as gender-neutral?