Gender Studies Parent: A ‘Gift’ to Let Child Create Own Gender Identity

In this Dec.13, 2018 photo, Laura, a transgender girl, looks from behind a glass door during recess at the Amaranta Gomez school in Santiago, Chile.
Esteban Felix/AP Photo

A parent with a gender studies degree wrote in Time her decision to allow her child to create a gender identity is a “gift” for both of them.

“If you want to get technical, my partner Brent and I had found out our child’s sex chromosomes in the early stages of my pregnancy, and we had seen their genitals during the anatomy scan,” wrote Kyl Myers in a piece published in Time last week. “But we didn’t think that information told us anything about our kid’s gender.”

Myers, who teaches a course titled Sociology of Gender and Sexuality, continued:

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. 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 fit them best. Until then, we were committed to raising our child without the expectations or restrictions of the gender binary.

Myers said she was motivated, in part, to allow Zoomer to create a gender identity by what she said she witnessed in the decade prior to having a baby. She explained she saw increasing numbers of her students asking her to call them different names and to use different pronouns when referring to them.

“Women confided that they were experiencing sexism from their chemistry professors,” she said. “Men vented about the pressures of masculinity. These 18- to 20-something-year-olds were feeling crushed by gender stereotypes.”

Myers, the author of a book titled Raising Them: Our Adventure in Gender Creative Parenting, wrote that, having grown up in the Mormon church, she had to “untangle” herself from the “conditioning” she associates with biological sex.

“People have asked me to prove that gender-creative parenting will have positive outcomes,” she wrote. “I double-dog dare someone to prove that hypergendered childhood is a roaring success.”

Myers’ primary concerns center on “queer and trans youth”:

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. What have we got to lose? The patriarchy? Good riddance.

Myers described an incident in which she refused to have Zoomer participate in a preschool track event in which girls were to run in separate heats from boys.

“It is these moments that plant the seeds that boys and girls are dramatically different, and in the case of track and field, that boys are better,” she wrote.

Myers said she and her partner simply give Zoomer options, and “They thoughtfully pick what they like the most.”

“A common critique of gender-creative parenting is that ‘the kid will be confused,’ but Zoomer doesn’t seem confused at all,” she wrote.

She explained Zoomer “understands that some girls have penises and some boys have vulvas, and some intersex kids have vulvas and testes. Zoomer knows some daddies get pregnant and some nonbinary parents are called Zazas.”

“Because Zoomer has been raised with a focus on inclusivity, they have an instinct to make everyone feel welcome,” Myers touted. “When a character on a kids’ show says, ‘Hello, boys and girls!’ Zoomer adds, ‘And nonbinary pals!’”

Myers wrote she believes she has given her child “a gift,” one of “seeing people as more than just a gender.”

She said that Zoomer began declaring a gender identity at around “their fourth birthday,” and began using “gendered pronouns.”

However, Myers said she and her partner are still using plural pronouns “because Zoomer is still exploring gender and I want them to have some autonomy over how they share their identity with the world.”

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