Entertainment December 31, 2016
In a recently resurfaced interview with Teen Vogue, Billie Lourd revealed that her mother, the late Carrie Fisher, raised her without gender.
“It’s kind of the reason she named me Billie. It’s not about being a strong woman — it’s about being a strong person,” Lourd explained, adding that her mother had once told her, “I never sat you down with a credo. It was more about leading by example.”
Though the notion of raising a child gender-neutral is not a new idea, it has become more trendy in recent days. This month ABC Adelaide wrote that gender-neutral school uniforms could help stop bullying and discrimination.
READ MORE: #WomenThatDid: Carrie Fisher
And Canada is considering doing away with gender on passports and other identity documents, per Radio Canada International.
So what does raising a child gender-neutral even mean?
Well, as in all aspects of life, parents can take anywhere from a moderate to a more extreme approach. The more intense route would have you concealing the sex of your baby so they were free to develop their own notions of who they are, away from gender construct.
A lesser form of gender-neutral parenting would allow for children, despite identifying as one sex or the other, to be able to play with whichever toys and wear whichever clothes they like. For example, a little boy could play with dolls and/or wear dresses and little girls could choose Tonka Trucks and superhero costumes.
This could be made easier by big retail chains which are working to disassemble deep-seated gender constructs. Last year, Target made headlines for announcing it would be doing away with gender-specific product categories. For example, areas in toys and bedding would no longer be labeled for boys or girls but rather for children.
The benefits of raising a child gender-neutral, of course, are that they will not be burdened with the stereotypes surrounding the gender constructs of boys and girls. Old-fashioned gender norms shame men for showing emotion and women for being anything other than dainty and affectionate.
Raising children without gender allows them to develop their own personalities, likes and dislikes without fear that they are somehow abnormal or inadequate for simply being who they are. This is also a more inclusive take on parenthood, which would seemingly make life easier on trans and LGBTQ children as well.
And for the more conservative, who worry that a gender-neutral childhood will somehow affect sexuality, studies show that the two are unrelated. A study released by the journal Pediatrics revealed that 85 percent of youth who were gender nonconforming as children identified themselves as heterosexual in adulthood.
So while the idea of having an LGBTQ child should not serve as a cautionary tale to begin with – because it is just as normal and natural as anything else – that argument against gender nonconforming parenting is defunct anyway.
And why wouldn’t you want your child to feel free to be whoever they are? Their personality and creativity is more likely to grow in an environment with fewer stereotypes and restrictions. If “Scream Queens” star Billie Lourd is any example, that type of forward thinking can lead to a strong, confident human being.
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