Gender Neutral Parenting


Being a Gender Neutral Parent is not as difficult as it may seem, depending on what level of Gender Neutral Parenting (GNP) you decide to be; to begin with, let's just consider and compare a few different levels of GNP, with some examples.

Intense levels of GNP can be demonstrated by refusing to reveal the sex of a child until they are established in a gender. Beck Laxton and partner Kieran Cooper kept the sex of their child hidden until the child's 5th birthday, to help avoid or (arguably) completely bypass social and cultural pressures to fit into a particular gender based on a person's sex. Within this household, the infant was only allowed to play with gender neutral toys, and his parent's did not have to worry about the media influencing how he saw himself, as they lived in a TV free home. Sasha now identifies as a boy, but this was only revealed as it became harder for the parent's to shelter Sasha from gender stereotyping when he started school.

Jane Ward, the Professor of Women's Studies at the University of California says "Raising a child under these strict gender guidelines is denying them an entire world of colors--they become tracked into the characteristics of their biological sex." - Which, to me, makes a lot of sense.

Although GNP does not have to mean hiding the sex of your baby, it can also be just resisting pressure to guide your child towards gender stereotypes (E.g. Letting your child pick a toy from all sections of the store, not just the ones that are assigned to their sex at birth).

Here's a few tips for being a GNP

  • The first one is probably the easiest... Colours. Ultimately, before a child identifies as a gender, the decoration of their room is up to you. Personally, I'd just go for a mix of weird and wonderful things, lots of lovely colours and a mix of gender targeted toys and decorations etc.
  • This is hopefully one that doesn't need saying, do not pressure your child to fulfil a gender role. Not all women are 'for the kitchen' or the 'homemakers' - let them be what they want to be! 
  • Don't refuse girls trousers, or, boys skirts. People should be able to wear what makes them comfortable, especially children.
  • The sexualisation of girls clothes is a major issue, and also contributes heavily to gender stereotyping. Bathing suits, bikinis etc. should not be sexually suggestive if it is meant for a child (or for adults too, if you want, but that's a discussion for another day). If your daughter wants to wear swimming shorts, what's stopping her? There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the only reason why people are uncomfortable, is because they are sexualising the idea of the girls breasts/nipples, and feel uncomfortable because it's a child. Just stop sexualising them. 
  • Let your child pick whatever toy they want, princess doll, dinosaur, or monster trucks, they just want something to play with - and surely you just want to see them happily playing? 
  • Do not excuse bad behaviour, or ignore good behaviour, based on a child's sex/gender. (E.g. 'Boys will be boys')
  • Do not encourage children to repress or express emotions that they are not comfortable with, based on their sex/gender. (E.g. Boys don't cry, be a big strong man!)
That's really all I have to say at the minute, but this isn't a topic that I will let lie! Please see below to read about Storm, the gender neutral baby, it's a really nice story - and highlights the simplicity that comes with gender neutral parenting. 


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