Why We Need To Stop Assuming Babies' Gender

Society got it wrong. My parents got it wrong. My mother’s midwife got it wrong. I wasn’t a little girl
Tatyana Tomsickova Photography via Getty Images

“I’ve got some news. I’m pregnant!”

“Congratulations! Is it a boy or a girl?”

Why is it that when we find out someone’s going to have a baby we immediately fixate on its gender?

Assuming a baby’s gender would be the same as assuming their sexual orientation, what taste in music they’ll grow up to have, whether or not they’ll go to university and who they’ll prefer, Ant or Dec.

It’s impossible to know these things before the child has experienced the world for themselves and is able to verbalise an answer based on their own feelings.

So why when it comes to gender do, not the only parents, but society think it has any right to proclaim a child’s gender without their permission and before they even understand what gender is?

I popped out as a whopping 10lbs 4oz baby and with a visible vagina. From that point onwards I was declared a “girl”. The only thing that should have been declared at that point was that I was a big ass baby. My gender should have been left untouched. That was not the business of my parents and it certainly wasn’t the business of my mother’s midwife.

As I entered childhood I was raised according to this conclusion and society’s idea of what it means to be female. I was put in a pink dress, I was given a Barbie and I was exposed to the Spice Girls - I’m not complaining about that last one though; they were epic.

However society got it wrong. My parents got it wrong. My mother’s midwife got it wrong. Because despite what they believed, I wasn’t a little girl. I was a little person.

I soon developed my own sense of style and identity by switching dresses for camo pants and Polly Pocket for Action Man. I gravitated heavily towards the boys at school and dreamed of having a mullet when I grew up and scoring in the World Cup final.

Luckily my gender expression was accepted for the most part. I was allowed to wear boys’ clothes and my folks had no issue with my friends being male. However there were some occasions my gender expression was ridiculed.

I remember being around 12 and noticing that a lot of “geezers” (those of you born in the early 00s might have to Urban Dictionary that one) walked a certain way; their shoulders swaying from side to side. Wanting to be like them I decided to adopt this walk, but had it immediately shut down by someone who told me “stop walking like a bloke”.

Throughout my time at school I was regularly called a “man”, “he-she” and the worst one to date - “man beast”. Society clearly couldn’t cope with the masculinity I was presenting from my female exterior. My whole life I had these subtle and not-so-subtle digs made towards me about my assumed gender, but that was the problem - the assumption.

Until society stops assuming people’s gender based on their sex, life will continue to be hard for the hundreds of others just like me. I will still have to pay a weekly fee to talk to a therapist about this and my mood will continue to plummet every time I walk into a restaurant and get referred to as “madame”.

I know I’m in the minority, I know I’m not a parent and I know this is a controversial topic. But I’ve been subjected to having my sex forced on me and being told it’s my gender my entire life. And nobody, until my counsellor four months ago, ever bothered to take a step back and actually ask me how I felt in all of this.

I cannot thank my counsellor enough for asking me “what gender do you identify as?” as for the first time in my life, there was no assuming. I was given permission to fully explore my gender (without judgement) and it allowed me the opportunity to reevaluate things and say how I really felt.

That question unlocked a door for me that I didn’t know existed and as I stepped through into a new, unknown world, I found one that was more free and more suited to who I really am. Every child should have that opportunity.