How I’m Talking to My Kids about Gender
You don’t have to be an expert to raise gender positive children.
The most important thing is making sure they know we love them no matter what.
I’m a heterosexual cisgender woman married to a cisgender man. For the newbies, that means that I was assigned female at birth and I identify as a woman as an adult. My husband was assigned male at birth and identifies as a man. Together we are raising a six-year-old son we’ll call Sweetie Bird and a nine-month-old daughter, alias Baby Bird. My son, so far, seems comfortable being identified as a boy, but we do our best not to make assumptions about his gender or eventual sexuality.
I am by no means a gender expert — just an aspiring intersectional feminist doing my best to practice what I preach. My husband and I do not know everything, not even close. But, we feel strongly that kids need to learn about the almost infinite ways of being in this world and that none is wrong. What is “right” can only be determined by each person for themselves.
This story will give you a quick and dirty primer of everything you need to know to begin talking to your kids about gender lovingly and constructively. Notice I said primer. If you’re a beginner too, you’ll eventually need to read more and find resources as necessary. I google my own questions about gender all the time!
Sweetie Bird hasn’t asked a lot of direct gender-related questions on his own up to now, but there are opportunities every day to talk about gender with him in an age appropriate manner. In our house, not much is off limits if he asks. We don’t offer up every single detail out of the blue, but we won’t feign ignorance or lie about a subject if he asks specifically.
This is how I got entangled in a mess of questions about drag queens just the other day. We had just read a beautifully written and illustrated book Julián is a Mermaid, by Jessica Love, where a little boy becomes entranced by the mermaids he sees riding on the subway. He fashions himself a mermaid costume from household items while his abuela is in the shower…