Kyl Myers, from the US, and her husband Brent, believe gender identity and gender expression are up to each individual to decide, not their parents. So the couple currently use gender-neutral pronouns, such as they, them and their, when referring to Zoomer.
“I chose not to assign a gender to Zoomer,” the mum tells HuffPost UK. “Instead, I’ll wait for them to self-identify, which will likely happen when they are three of four years old, just like when most children begin to identify themselves with a gender and pronouns.
“In the meantime, I do not think I need to disclose their sex. Strangers and most people Zoomer knows don’t need to know about Z’s genitals.”
Myers views gender creative parenting as a way of preventing Zoomer from being limited by gender stereotypes during the first few years of their life.
Here are the five things Myers wants you to know about what it means to bring up a child in a gender creative environment.
There is no concrete definition for gender creative parenting.
Myers says there are several terms that represent the same idea: gender open parenting, gender affirming parenting, and gender fluid parenting. She and her husband Brent use the term “gender creative” because “being creative is our primary motivation and goal in raising Zoomer,” she says. “Gender creative parenting promotes gender equality and the freedom to express oneself without stereotypical gender restrictions or expectations.”
Gender creativity is not about banning pink and blue toys - it’s about giving a child options.
This type of parenting embraces femininity and masculinity equally and nothing is off limits. Myers said it encourages children to dabble in anything that strikes their fancy, rather than allowing them to only experience half of the world. She never tells Zoomer ‘that’s not for girls’ or ‘that’s not for boys’.
“Everything is for everybody,” she says. “We buy clothes that are marketed towards girls and boys and we encourage Zoomer to pick out the clothes and shoes they want to wear. For example, when we buy pull-ups, we buy one box marketed towards girls (Minnie Mouse & Doc McStuffins) and one box marketed towards boys (Lion King & Cars) so that Zoomer gets the range of options and isn’t limited.”
Myers said she has heard people say that being gender creative means people avoid pink and blue, but “that couldn’t be farther from the truth, we don’t avoid any colours. Our kid’s favourite colour is pink, and they wear blue and pink all the time.”
It applies to the parents’ roles too.
When bringing up a child in a gender creative environment, household and parenting duties are shared equally between parents. “Female parents are not expected to be primary caregivers and male parents are not expected to be primary income providers,” says Myers. “Gender creative parents determine what will work best for their families without relying on gender stereotypes and model this behaviour to their children.”
Gender creative families honour other people’s pronouns.
Despite referring to their child using the pronoun ‘they’, the couple aren’t against referring to others as he or she. Myers will use the pronoun ‘she’ when referring to Zoomer’s teacher, because Z’s teacher identifies as a woman.
She adds: “However, if we’re at the park and a child who I don’t know wants to go down the slide, I’ll say to Zoomer, ‘Let’s let our friend go down the slide,’ instead of saying ‘let her go down the slide,’ or ‘let the little boy go down the slide,’ because I want to teach Zoomer not to assume other people’s gender identity or pronouns and I don’t want to be making someone’s gender a focal point if it doesn’t have to be.”
They understand it’s not for everybody.
“My husband and I are very respectful of everyone’s parenting practices,” says Myers. “Being gender creative parents felt right for my husband and me, but we understand it’s not for everybody. I think one of the reasons we have gotten such positive responses from so many parents is because they can see that we are very similar to them, we are just doing our best, and making decisions with the information we have, and we all just want happy and healthy children.”