Parenting is influenced a lot by our children’s gender, but what if you could bypass that route and raise your child as theyby? A considerable number of revolutionary parents are not assigning gender to their babies, leaving it to them to figure it out when they grow up. Instead of referring to them as boys or girls, these parents are referring to their children as “theybies” and they expect the society to respect and abide by their choice. I am calling these parents revolutionary because what they have started is not just gutsy, but also path-breaking. In a world where the tag of he or she ends up defining all the choices you make, it is very difficult to raise a child without those labels.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • A considerable number of brave parents are not assigning gender to their babies on their birth.
  • They are leaving it to them to figure it out when they grow up instead.
  • The traits of femininity and masculinity don’t come coded in our sex chromosomes.
  • Imagine what your childhood would have been like if you weren’t brought up based on gendered norms.

In a world where the tag of he or she ends up defining all the choices you make, it is very difficult to raise a child without those labels.

According to NBC news, parents raising “theybies” kids do not reveal the sex of their children to anyone. They raise kids with gender-neutral pronouns — so, ‘they,’ ‘them,’ ‘their,’ rather than assigning ‘he,’ ‘she,’ ‘him,’ ‘her’ from birth based on their anatomy. Even the children, who are aware of their own body parts and how they may differ from others, are not taught to associate those body parts with being a boy or girl. the logic here is that if no one knows a child’s sex, they can’t be pigeonholed into gender stereotypes. At first, it may sound overwhelming. How do you not tell people the biological sex of your child? How do you call them they instead of he or she, and encourage them to wear clothes or choose toys on the basis of likability and not gender?

However, for millennial parents, gender stereotyping and its after effects is a hot topic. Parents across the globe are increasingly becoming averse to traditional gender norms, knowing it puts people in gendered boxes. It bothers most of us new age parents to walk into a toy shop or a clothing store and see the segregation of merchandise into girls and boys. But this isn’t just about the alarming division of aisles into girls versus boys, with specific colour coding mind you. Gender specification starts as soon as a child is born, when we tick the boxes of sex on their birth certificate. Ever since then we begin raising them as per their biological sex, conditioning them into behaving and making choices, which our society says are appropriate for their gender.

Gender specification starts as soon as a child is born, when we tick the boxes of sex on their birth certificate.

Girls must wear frocks and play with dolls. Boys must wear shorts and play with trucks. Girls are conditioned to identify with duties like childcare and cooking with games like tea parties and ghar ghar. While boys are encouraged to play pretend pilot, doctor or engineer. The traits of femininity and masculinity don’t come coded in our sex chromosomes. We adopt them as we grow up. When this conditioning starts, we are too young to even question whether this is right or wrong, or whether or not we have a choice. Do girls have a choice to not wear pink frocks? Do boys have a choice to not play with trucks and pick up kitchen sets instead? Of course, they do, but we as parents often don’t tell them that. Not because we don’t want to, but because no one told us.

This is why theyby parenting is so groundbreaking. It gives kids a choice to make their own identity. It frees them of the burden of behaving according to their biological sex. This is essential because gender norms are psychological, they have nothing to do with biological sex. We have brought these norms on ourselves and we spend a lifetime struggling with them. Imagine what your childhood would have been like if you weren’t brought up based on gendered norms. Perhaps you would have made so many choices differently. From clothes, to toys, to studies, to professions, gender plays a big role in all these choices we make.

Dissociating these choices from gender may seem overwhelming at first but it is liberating.

It is like walking into a giant retail shop and buying what you like and not what you are expected to like. It doubles the choices at hand, because before all you had at your disposal was one half of the shop. Now imagine having double the amount of choices at your disposal throughout your life, in every aspect. What all can be achieved? What all choices can be made? Parents raising theyby kids are giving their children a world of options and liberty. It encourages development of unique personalities among kids.

If you are resistant to that thought though, you need to ask yourselves why. Is it because this liberation is too overwhelming to you as a parent? Or because you just love the comfort of having certain choices already made for you? Is that comfort worth keeping your child from becoming what they could actually be?

Source: Jumbodium blog

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 Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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