One couple is taking gender equality to a whole new extreme – saying they’re raising their “theyby” (nope, not a BAby, a “THEYby”) to be so gender-neutral, even his/her/its own grandparents weren’t allowed to know the kid’s biological gender.
Seriously. They’ve even made a whole website about it.
Brent and Kyl (who are a man and a woman, in case anyone’s already tripped up), say they wanted to raise their child, named Zoomer, to be totally free of gender stereotypes, even to the point of not allowing the outside world to know what cash ‘n prizes their kid had been born with. And they came up with this newfangled idea, unsurprisingly, when Kyl was a gender studies student at school.
A gender-studies student at the University of Utah at the time, Myers understood gender to be not a biological imperative but rather a social construct.
“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.”
To pull this off, the couple shops for clothes and toys in both the girls’ and boys’ sections of the store, calls other people “they” instead of girls and boys, and makes sure to never, ever use a gendered pronoun in reference to their child.
Even the kid’s own grandparents reportedly didn’t know what their grandchild was until Zoomer’s parents were convinced they wouldn’t trip up and use the wrong pronouns.
“I think our parents might have been concerned that a gender-creative child didn’t align with their hopes of grandparenthood,” Myers told The Cut. “I think they might have thought that we were taking away valuable experiences from them, like bathing their grandchild. We helped them understand that of course they could eventually know Z’s sex; we just wanted them to understand how important it was to us to parent this way.”
And guess how all that’s working out?
Well, other than probably all kinds of confusing to poor Zoomer, not so great. The Cut explains that despite his/her parents best efforts, little Zoomer is already starting to say “Dada” when he sees other men on the street, understanding that these men – and not their female counterparts – look like his own father.
“Zoomer does point to other people and say ‘Mama’ or ‘Dada,’ ” Myers said. “So they have picked up on the differences between their dad and me and are recognizing similarities that I have with other women and their dad has with other men.”
So if gender is a social construct, one from which you are shielding your child to the point of shunning your own family, then how is it that your infant can pick up on the inherent differences between men and women before you’ve even introduced those words into his/her vocabulary?
Thought: probably because gender isn’t a social construct at all.