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.
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.
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.