A growing number of parents are raising their children as gender-neutral babies, as they want their kids to choose it for themselves when they grow up. The term 'theyby' is being used for such babies.
According to The Cut, a Canadian baby might have been the first baby who had been issued a health card without a gender designation in 2017. The incident acted as an inspiration to another couple, Bobby McCullough and Lesley Fleishman, from Brooklyn, New York.
McCullough came across an article regarding the Canadian baby and thought: "Definitely the concept of not enforcing gender stereotypes was something that was on our radar, but we simply didn't know or have the idea on our own to not assign the baby a gender."
He looked for more information, such as guidelines as to how to go about it and many other things like that. He even joined a Facebook group related to it. He found a small but hard-core group of families who were raising theybies — babies whose parents refuse to reveal the gender of their child and use they/them pronouns for their children.
He told New York Magazine that this kind of parenting style aligned with how he and Lesley view gender constructs.
He said. "[The Facebook page] was my favorite place to go on the internet. It was just like, 'Wow, there's something that we can do parenting-wise that completely goes with our value system.'"
In 2011, another couple Kathy Witterick and David Stocker hit the headlines after becoming one of the first families to go public with their decision of not assigning gender to their third child, Storm.
This time it resulted in people questioning whether a child raised without gender would be able to form an identity, or would suffer permanent psychological damage.
The hype around this case drew the attention of a gender-studies student, Kyl Myers at the University of Utah. According to The Cut, Myers said: "I had read the stories about Storm, I had seen the comments, and I just thought, I have such a different experience with the world and a different idea about gender than these people do. Sure, there are biological differences among the sexes, I get that. But once I was exposed to it, I couldn't unsee or unlearn that gender is a social construction."
Myers added: "I knew I wanted to parent like this before I met the father of my child." She is now the parent of a 2-year-old theyby, Zoomer.
It's reasonable to expect that for children who eventually identify themselves as genderqueer or transgender, a gender-neutral childhood would provide a softer landing. Moreover, some parents believe that the possibility of that outcome may also increase.
"I wouldn't say that we are parenting this way because we thought there was a chance that Zoomer would be gender nonconforming," Myers says. "But now that we are parenting this way, it's actually very possible that Zoomer will be gender nonconforming because we are not raising them to conform to a binary gender."
While some parents want their babies to be theybies, some are of the opinion that it is not a good idea. But what's your take on it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.