I’m raising my children to know their sex, not their gender.
To explain I’ll describe what I mean by each. Their sex is what they are. The girls have vaginas and XX chromosomes, the boy has a penis and XY chromosomes. Obviously there are other physiological differences but that’s the basics.
Gender is something else. Gender is what each sex is “supposed” to be interested in, “supposed” to like, think and feel. It’s the boys like pirates, girls like princesses, and boys like football, girls like ballet, school of thought.
So, how do I raise them with one not the other? And why?
They need to know their sex. There are medical issues that could come into play for one thing; they need to know their body parts in order to describe any pain or discomfort. They need to understand the changes that they’re going to experience on their bodies, things that will happen to them because of their sex.
Whilst I definitely believe we all need to know the physiology of the opposite sex, when it’s going to happen to your own body what you learn needs to be more intense. I’ll be teaching the girls about periods; how to use tampons or pads, what pain relief works best. I’ll be teaching the girls about yeast infections and what to look out for, what treatment to use. The boy needs to learn about erections and testicular pain, about his voice dropping. These are basic simple biological differences that will manifest as they grow and experience life.
But gender is unnecessary. And in some cases it is harmful.
There’s a flow chart floating around social media that is spectacular at explaining why children do not need gender.
IS IT OPERATED WITH GENITALS?
THIS ISN’T FOR CHILDREN YOUR CHILD CAN PLAY WITH IT
Nothing that children play with, watch or wear is restricted to their sex. Absolutely nothing. There is absolutely no reason boys can’t play with My Little Ponies, Barbies or hair dressing sets. There is absolutely no reason girls can’t play with dinosaurs, trucks and footballs. And when we teach them that it’s not the case problems happen.
I recently had a conversation with someone one Twitter who’s raising her little boy as female now. I assume that doesn’t include learning about the medical reasons he needs to know about his body, I don’t suppose she’ll be teaching him about period cramps and how to get blood stains out of knickers. She’s raising him as socially female.
She tweeted that every birthday and Christmas he asked for dolls, and every year he cried when he was bought trucks. I asked why she couldn’t just let him play with dolls? Why not let the kid have what he wanted? She said because he was teased for it, made fun of, laughed at for liking girl’s toys.
She taught him that the bullies were right. She taught him that the bullies were right and he was wrong. That something is wrong with him. She changed him, not the bullies.
He is now on a path. He’s being raised as a girl now. He’s on a path that leads children into puberty blockers, a life time of medication, hormone therapy and, if he chooses to go down that path, surgery. Or if he’s like high profile trans child Jazz Jennings who went on puberty blockers, he’ll find that his development is so damaged that not only is he unsuitable for surgery, but he’ll also not develop fully and he’ll grow older with an infant’s penis on an adult body, with nothing anybody can do to help.
Because he wanted a Barbie.
With other parents that could be my children. Miss Rose is not a traditionally feminine girl in a lot of ways. She likes her hair short, she loves football. She plays with bricks and cars and super heroes. With different parents she could easily have been taught that they are boys toys, that there’s something wrong with her wanting those things. The more traditionally “girly” things she enjoys could have been hyped up, she could have been forced to grow her hair long and wear frilly pink dresses. She’d be uncomfortable, she’d feel she was wrong. She’d be told that only girls like these, only boys like those. But she likes those. You can see how their little brains make that leap without any slight concept of what they’re getting into.
Gender stereotypes being imposed on children starts them on their journey to adulthood in a way that is just not healthy. Fifty years ago that meant little girls grew up to be housewives. They were forced to play with make up sets, ironing boards, and dolls being groomed for a life of servitude, beauty and motherhood. Little boys were forced to play with weapons, cars and blocks, preparing them for a life of adventure, money making and dominance.
We started to leave that behind. Movements like Let Toys Be Toys highlighted that any child can play with any toy. We’re becoming accepting of little girls who like adventure and little boys who like domesticity. We’re moving towards embracing both facets of our personalities, little girls like Miss Rose loving toy cars and My Little Ponies without any concept that she could be wrong in doing so.
But the more tolerant we become of celebrating differences, the more intolerant we become of those who are different.
Now it’s more tolerant to believe a little boy who likes Barbie is really a girl. It’s more tolerant to think a little girl who likes her hair short and doesn’t wear pink is really a boy.
Gender stereotyping is getting a resurgence in popularity but under a new name, and instead of those who are against gender stereotyping being the progressives, it’s those who will strictly conform to it to the point of medicating their children who are applauded.
My children will be raised to know their sex. To know their bodies, to understand what they do and how they work, how they’ll change and what to do to be healthy. They’ll be taught to love their bodies, respect their bodies, nurture their bodies.
My children will not be taught their gender. They’ll never hear from us “that’s a girl’s toy” or “only boy’s wear that”, and if they hear it from others they’ll swiftly be reassured that it’s nonsense, that they’re perfect they way they are. If they’re teased for their differences I’ll never side with their bullies. Ever.
Femininity and masculinity are both fine. Women and men are both fine. Girls and boys are both fine. It’s okay to be anywhere on the feminine to masculine scale regardless of what sex you were born.
I’m raising my children to know their sex, but not give a flying f*ck about their gender.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!