Parents Are Raising Their Kids As ‘Theybies’ To Let Them Choose Their Own Gender

Parents Are Raising Their Kids As ‘Theybies’ To Let Them Choose Their Own Gender

Many feel children should be allowed to choose their gender and the pressure to align to a particular identity based on stereotype should not be imposed on them.

New-age parents are raising their children in gender-neutral homes. They feel that the pressure and social conditioning of set gender roles should not be imposed on kids. Rather they should be able to choose the same once they grow up. Take the case of Massachusetts couple, Nate and Julia Sharpe, whose three-year-old twins Zyler and Kadyn are being raised without any gender being designated to them. Instead, gender-neutral pronouns such as they, them, theirs are used to address them. Children who are raised this way are referred to as "theybies." Speaking with NBC, Nate said, "A theyby is, I think, different things to different people. For us, it means raising our kids with gender-neutral pronouns — so, ‘they,’ ‘them,’ ‘their,’ rather than assigning ‘he,’ ‘she,’ ‘him,’ ‘her’ from birth based on their anatomy.” 


That's why in a household like the Sharpe's both boys and girls can play with dolls as well as other things that in regular households are seen as more masculine such as toy trucks and toy guns. They can also dress up in pants as well as skirts. The parents make it a point to not reveal their kids' gender to anyone and while the kids themselves are aware of their body parts but there is no specific gender meaning attached to them. "We definitely got more pushback from co-workers, who were like: ‘Wait, you're not going to tell me what you're having? You're not going to tell me what your kids are?’” Julia said who added, “I’m like, ‘I’m telling you they're children.’ But they got really, really frustrated that we wouldn't tell them what their genitalia was, which is kind of a weird thing when you think about it.” Many experts see gender as social constructs rather than in terms of anatomy.


One of them is Christia Spears Brown, a developmental psychologist and author of “Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue: How to Raise Your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes.” She said large-scale research points to gender being largely influenced by a child’s environment. At birth, the brains of a baby girl and boy can't be differentiated. But this changes as they grow up. Brown said the “the differences get larger as kids get older, which really suggests that it's society and culture that are shaping the differences that we see — not innate differences from birth.” All these differences are influenced by specific "gender-based marketing" by the world at large. Another major influence experts say is from parents who constantly hammer gender stereotypes such as a girl's affinity to the color pink and encouraging emotions in them.


On the other another hand, they tend to explain things to boys in numbers and encourage aggressiveness. For Dr. John Steever, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, New York, "gender-open" homes are safe spaces where children would be accepted irrespective of which identity they may subscribe to. “When a child is told their entire life, ‘You are a boy, you are going to grow up to be a man, you are going to like women, you are going to be a father…,’ when they start to feel, at a young age, or maybe in their adolescence that isn't right, that doesn't fit me that creates that gender dysphoria.” While children might be brought up in such gender neutral homes, what happens when they go outside to the world that functions entirely on gender based roles? 


“Once your child meets the outer world, which may be day care, or preschool, or grandparents — it's pretty much impossible to maintain a gender-free state. And depending on how conventional your community is, you could be setting your child up for bullying or exclusion,” said Lise Eliot, professor of neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School. 

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