Parents who refuse to call their newborns “girls” or “boys” claim that they are leading a new gender revolution.
Parents around the world are deciding to raise their children “gender-neutral.” What exactly does this mean? To parent advocates of “gender-neutral” child raising, it means allowing their children to shape their own gender expression. This is accomplished by providing them with the freedom to explore varied interests from a young age.
“I try to make sure I’m treating them as similarly as I can,” one parent told a reporter for Quartz. “When a truck goes by, I’d always point them out to my son. I made sure to do the same for my daughter, because she might also be interested in the truck.”
Christine Fawcett, a psychology researcher at Uppsala University in Sweden argues that it’s unclear whether the benefits of a gender-neutral childhood will carry over into adulthood. Nevertheless, Fawcett is committed to raising her daughter in a “gender-neutral” fashion.
It’s a bit harder to tell for my daughter since she’s still so young, but she does show an interest in climbing and getting dirty and I try to encourage that, rather than telling her to be careful about messing up her clothes, for example. In the future, I hope that these small differences will add up to a future where they feel confident that any options are open to them—from stay-at-home parent to molecular biologist to construction worker—and they can follow what they most want to do.
Even Fawcett admits that “gender is a real thing” and that its intentional absence from cultural may prove “unsettling.”
“Gender is a real thing in the world,” she told a reporter. “If gender really is a core of humanity in some way, then having that not represented at all around us could somehow be unsettling. Or something wouldn’t be fulfilled in our development. But it’s really hard to say.”
This isn’t the first time the concept of “gender-neutral” upbringings has been in the news. In July 2017, Breitbart News covered a VICE documentary that offered an inside look at the lives of children who are being forced to eschew traditional gender expression.