Are They a Boy or a Girl?!
The most common thing that I get asked is how do I answer the question, “are they a boy or a girl?!” As a parent practicing gender creative parenting, this is how that usually goes. But, I want to preface by saying that Wilder is being raised during a pandemic, is unable to get vaccinated or wear a mask yet, so we don’t spend much time out in public where we may be asked this question. Even though it’s typically the first question asked about a person, we haven’t been asked much due to this fact.
When I am asked in public by a stranger if Wilder is a boy or a girl, the most common response from me is that, I don’t answer. And here’s why: boundaries. I want Wilder to lean that even with being a Public Figure, there are parts of your story and life that people have to earn the right to hear. That we don’t have to answer every question, especially if they will lead to deeper conversations that others may not be ready for yet or that we may not have the capacity for.
Yeah, a question such as ‘are you a boy or girl” may seem like a simple question to some of you, but for some of us, it’s not that easy. Some of us don’t actually know. Some of us are both, boy and girl or neither boy or girl. And for some of us, there is grave trauma associated with that very question that most people in this world don’t have to think twice about or be sensitive to. I want Wilder to lean how to be sensitive to what information they are requesting from others and when to ask questions. And as importantly, I want Wilder to know that if they are ever asked things that make them uncomfortable or they don’t want to answer, they don’t have to. I want them to know that they can politely decline and that no itself is a full sentence.
But, my absolute favorite response to this question is, “I actually think they’re a Terrordactyl given the noises they make!” This one always gets a laugh and deflects the actual question, allowing me to redirect the conversation or move on if needed.
This also means that I don’t correct the pronouns that people choose to use for Wilder. Let me be more clear, I don’t correct people we briefly meet in public or on public forums. The reason why, is I don’t actually know myself which is the correct pronoun yet, so how would I know if they are wrong? This also gives Wilder the ability to experience all pronouns and decide what feels best for them. In addition, it helps keep as many gendered stereotypes away from Wilder as possible.
My goal as a parent is to create the most optimal environment for Wilder to thrive in, free from all of the stereotypes and gendered roles this society has made up. I use gender neutral pronouns (they/them) in order to give Wilder the full freedom to express themselves, without having to wade though other peoples perspectives or expectations of how one should show up based on how they were born before hand. When Wilder begins to express their gender identity, then I’ll happily shift the pronouns I use for them if that’s the case, or continue using gender neutral if that’s what they desire. But, am I also a new parent learning as I go? yup. I might change paths or directions as we go because life is fluid, not rigid. Just like gender.
At the end fo the day, why does it matter? Really, it doesn’t.
Danny (and Wilder)
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This is fantastic. I especially like the pterodactyl response! My children have strong identities as boys, but I often feel like I have to do a lot of work to counter the influence others project onto them about gender roles and “gender appropriate” colors, hairstyles, etc. Whenever someone else has tried to pass “gender ideals” onto my children, I will find as many examples as I can to contradict the ideal, and reaffirm that you can know someone’s gender based on what they choose to tell you about it. I tell my kids that the best way to do this is to introduce yourself, tell people your pronouns, and ask them theirs.
I always was asked by random people while I was pregnant: “What are you expecting?” My answer was always: “A baby! Hopefully a nice one!” 😂
Is there no possibility for getting a vaccination for Wilder? In Germany we have some Doctors who do vaccinations off label for younger kids, so my 13 months old got the second shot last week. It is not illegal, just not easy to find.