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Gender Creative Parenting 101: Equality Is Important. Let’s Talk About Sex and Gender

Vocabulary: Cis-Gender, Gender Assignment, Transgender, Non binary, Gender non conforming, Gender Identity, Gender Expression

Gender Creative Parenting embraces the notion that equality is important. Equality from the beginning is one of the most important aspects a parent can provide to their children. However, as we see gender equality moving so slowly we must ask ourselves if what we are teaching is useful and accurate. Are we ourselves educated about the nuances that bolster gender inequality? Do we understand the tiny acts that happen on a day to day basis and how to combat them? Do we understand the foundation our children will use to create interpersonal relationships with genders unlike their own?

As gender inequality persists into adulthood it seems the answer is NO. As a mom who has gender studies and women empowerment education under her belt I still feel unprepared for how to deal with gender inequality during childhood. When we learn about gender inequality we discuss how it affects adults. Women are underpaid, men are intolerant of emotional connection, non binary and transgender people do not exist, so on and so forth. There is no talk about children, no discussion on how to change things from the beginning, or a parents’ incredible role here. Future generations need parents who will discuss these parts of gender inequality and really embrace respect and understanding at an early age and on a level that makes real change as children grow into adults. 

To do this we must start at the beginning. Defining Sex and Gender. 

It should be stated this is not an exhaustive article about sex or gender. It is a superficial starting point for parents who are new to GCP. At no point do I endorse any finite understandings of anything stated here. Sex and gender and the intersectionalities associated with them are a cornicopia of biological and societal nuances that are navigated by each individual in their own way.

Biological Sex

A person’s biological sex is labeled Male/Female/Intersex, and each of these options produce external genitalia that are different. This occurs from a variety of combinations of chromosomes. Male chromosomes produce penises, testses and male reproductive hormones. Female chromosomes produce vaginas, vulvas, uterus and female reproductive hormones. Intersex have a variety of chromosomal combinations with a variety of external genitalia or other physical traits we may not be privy to. See additional information on this topic in a great article by Dr. Davis “5 things I wish you knew about intersex people” at another GCP site. 

“Biological sex is universal and static. Gender is a cultural construct that shifts between societies and across time.”

Dr. Kyl Myers
Newborn baby feet
Photo by: Janko Ferlič

Gender

Gender is a set of characteristics ranging from masculinity to femininity, everything in between and outside of these spectrums. Males, females and intersex are often assigned a gender while in utero. It is a usually a binary option of boy/man, girl/woman. However in some cultures they do have third and fourth genders such as the Hijras of South Asia. The definitions of these labels are founded within each separate society and while culture is vast and varied, the roles created by these definitions are similar.

Once parents find out the sex of a baby the baby is automatically gendered, see our personal story here. This is called…

Gender assignment. If the baby has a vagina it’s “she/her” pronouns, cue the pink pastels and glass ceiling installation. If a baby has a penis it’s “he/him” pronouns hunter greens, and high expectations surrounding career and leadership. Intersex is often overlooked, but continues to define gender based on external genitalia. 

Now, as GCP parents we need to explore and understand the relationship sex, gender and their history have in our society. The definitions related to gender assignments immediately push out many options for our child. These definitions touch every piece of material, communication, behavior, movement and future option our children will be exposed to. It forces our beautiful child into a small box that doesn’t leave room for empowerment. It ends up creating wall we will eventually have to break down. We as parents start to buy into gender assignment, advocating to reduce our own children’s options. It is a disheartening reality we all participate in every day. We buy into gender because we don’t want to “mess them up” or make them outcasts, but as parents it is our main job to be our child’s biggest advocate. However, if we are distracted with bolstering our child’s gender assignment we might over look their gender identity.

Gender identity is what gender a child feels  they are. Children start to gender themselves as young as three years old and this identity is very important. When a child’s gender assignment and gender identity match this is called…Cis-gender.

Cis-gender children are those children with labels and pronouns such as vagina/girl/she or penis/boy/he. 

When a child’s gender assignment does not match their identify they may identify as…

Transgender. Transgender kids are TRANSitioning from the gender they are given at birth. Transgender is an umbrella term that encompasses everything is that not cis gender. This is problematic but it is for another article…

Another option kids may feel is more authentic is…

Gender fluid, non-binary, or gender non-conforming. These labels define those who may identify in between a masculine and feminine spectrum or may not identify on this spectrum at all. They may want to use transgender pronouns or neutral pronouns such as “they/them”, “X” or “Z”. It is up to them. 

A child whose gender identity is overlooked is like a plant with minimal sunlight. It will still grow but it will be stunted and not  live up to its true potential. The last piece to our gender story is gender expression.

Gender expression  is how someone expresses their gender identity. This expression can come in many ways, clothing, hairstyles communication, body behavior etc. Gender expression and gender identity may not match due to societal expectations that have been building since before birth. 

 It is here gender creative parenting comes into play. A GCP parent is a gender advocate who stands up with their child and lets them be their true self. It is a parent who listens and uses the individual’s orientation and their pronouns. A parent who lets go of control  and allows their child to be their true self. Will this be difficult? Yes. Does letting go of control come easily? No. Will it make a huge difference in our children’s lives? YES! By defining sex and gender and severing its relationship we have started our journey to gender equality, creating a bigger world and giving our children more spaces to be themselves. 

Does this feel uncomfortable? Are you worried? Are you ready?

Good. Live here, with me, this is where changes happens. 

For more information  see the sex and gender books we recommend here.

2 thoughts on “Gender Creative Parenting 101: Equality Is Important. Let’s Talk About Sex and Gender”

  1. Disagree with the sentiments of this article. As a pregnant butch lesbian with a butch partner I am sick of hearing that we shouldn’t assign gender because of our own gender presentation and sexuality. Posting this article on an LGBT pregnancy page and commenting that you are “interested” to see discussions around gender on an LGBT page is very small-minded. Some people, queer or not, may choose to assign gender at birth and some may not. Either way, there is nothing wrong with the concept. It doesn’t harm the child. Stop this judgemental preaching against gender reveals and those who choose to use the term gender in reference to sex. So long as these people aren’t having a go at those who chose a different route, they shouldn’t be treated this way. It feels a bit like censorship. Your route is not the only route. Just because a person is queer doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to assign gender. And your comments on the path of those assigned female (glass ceilings) and those assigned male (career paths and leadership) are archaic and patrionising to those who conform to either gender. It sounds like something out of the 1950s. It’s 2021! To tell a person that if they assign a female gender to their child or like the colour pink that they’re setting them up for a lower spot on the totem pole is incredibly harmful. As someone who teaches gender studies, I am shocked to hear that you studied within the field. There is room for everyone. Stop vilifying the life choices of others to make your point. Your message could be so much more powerful if it was inclusive. As it stands, your choice to compare and contrast weakens your argument.

    1. Hello, thank you for taking the time to read this article and comment. To clarify I do not teach gender studies but you can find a small bio on the about section. This article is for educational purposes for parents who CHOOSE to be gender creative parents. And yes once some children are assigned a gender they are buckled with archaic sexist expectations in many parts of the country. The goal of this article is to sever the relationship between genitals and gender, that is all. It’s not an article specifically for LGBTQ+ people in response to us and our own sexuality and gender expression. The site itself is dedicated to all parents who choose to address gender inequality. The goal of this site it to educate parents to STOP teaching that some genders are more important than others, give vocabulary to those who need it and wish to give space to their children to be wherever they want on the gender spectrum. I encourage you to check out the other articles that discuss NOT devaluing femininity and instead bolster it and the importance of including transgender and nonbinary in your kid’s education, so these may be equal as well. At no point does the article discuss gender reveals, only once the sex is known a gender is usually automatically assigned. If you are interested in gendering your child in utero that is up to you but once assigned it does build walls that take time to break down later in life. As a seasoned parent I can tell you this is real, and something you will have to address, and thats fine and somewhere I think most of us are at this point in history, but we cannot pretend sexism doesn’t exist. As a person who is part of the LGBTQ+ community it is likely you will not have any issues if your child lies elsewhere on the spectrum, but we know that transphobia exists in some parts of our community and still needs to be addressed. I do think it is important for LBGTQ+ people to create an expectation for parents to bolster gender as we shouldn’t be perpetuating archaic sexist expectations, but this is only my personal opinion as I also know we have many other things to address. I hope this clarifies some of the points in this article. Good luck with your new baby! Thank you for taking the time to discuss these points.

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