I look blankly at a woman's excited expression as she..." /> Bronwyn Davies Glover on ‘PROVING’ GENDER – Mutha Magazine

Gender

Published on February 13th, 2014 | by Bronwyn Davies Glover

3

Bronwyn Davies Glover on ‘PROVING’ GENDER

“I can prove your child’s gender!”

I look blankly at a woman’s excited expression as she sits herself down beside me.

“I can. I’ve figured it out. I see you at all the drop ins and now I know. Wanna know how? Your baby is a ___”

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 9.36.59 AM

For an incredibly long time I have wanted to create a sort of blog or typing based place to store some of the fascinating experiences I have had, and am having, while parenting a tiny person to whom myself and my co-parent have not assigned gender.

Not gender neutral. Not gender free. Unassigned.

I wanted to begin writing when my tiny one was five hours old. The moment I looked down at their absurdly beautiful body all folded around my chest, eyes wide open, mouth held tightly in a small circle as if gasping with surprise and sudden wisdom and I felt my mind and body finally connect with the a truth I had theorised, analysed, discussed and worked to deconstruct for years. Gender does not exist.

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 9.39.07 AM

My tiny is now 26 months old, a full growing toddler and the truth I felt when their whole head fit into my palm is still the same. Gender as assigned by biological genitalia does not exist.

Gender is many things in my eyes. Gender is play, agency, chosen identity, costume, glitter, character, colour, glamourous, fierce, changing, free, and completely empowered. Gender is as real or imagined as we decide. Assigning such a thing is absurd to me. And the idea that my tiny, 6 pounds in my arms, so new and alive, could be bombarded with colours and adjectives and directional language only moments after being born and introduced to their world, terrified me.

As a queer, white, feminist co-parenting with a trans partner and raising a tiny in a world full of racist, misogynist, ableist, heteronormative, transphobic, violent, patriarchal, classist portrayals of what boy and girl means, I felt it was only right for me not to do something that seemed so wrong.

B2

This has not meant buying only yellow and green onesies and carefully selecting toys without long lashes and strollers or wheels and muscled arms. It has kind of meant the opposite. Doing everything as though my child were a boy/girl in the view of the world (with a radical, anti-oppressive approach). Very literally. Dolls with strollers and kitchen sets for making cupcakes. Hot pink unicorn onesies with leopard booties. Train sets with extensive magnetic wooden cars and dump trucks. Construction kits and baby hammers. Blue bookshelves and bright tutus with magic wands and a diva box for all the earrings, necklaces, tiaras, scarves, vests and hats.

And this was the first outright conversation a stranger had with me about my tiny upon learning we didn’t assign gender. Proving, red cheeks glowing with ‘I’m right, aren’t I?’ face, that no matter what I did, ‘true’ gender would still shine through. Because that, above all else, is how we are born.

“I can prove your child’s gender! I can. I’ve figured it out. I see you at all the drop ins and now I know. Wanna know how? Your baby is a girl!”

….. (Blank face)

“I figured it out and I’ll tell you how. Your baby is girl. She listens extremely well when you speak. She always checks in with you with her eyes when she starts to crawl away. She’s 6 months? Exactly. She is so empathetic to other children. When other babies cry, I’ve seen her look sad. And at music circle, she watches and pays attention the whole time! Little boys, I know, are already rolling and pushing. They don’t have the intellectual interest or human connection that your baby has. She shows you her love. Trust me, boys are all over the map with no awareness for others. The opposite actually. And they aren’t alert like she is. She’s a girl. I know it.”

Prove gender?

No.

But she sure proved the reason why I chose to raise my tiny without assigning anything but their name – and even that is up for discussion if they ever want to change it.

Tags: , , , ,


About the Author

Bronwyn Davies Glover

Bronwyn Davies Glover is a white, cisgendered, female, queer, able bodied anarcho-feminist who currently lives in Sydney, Australia. She is the co-founder of the Trigger Festival, a queer survivor-centric performance festival in Toronto and Dot & Dribble Productions, a theatrical clowning company that has been featured in Summerworks Festival,  Rhubarb: A Festival of Women and numerous International queer and gay festivals throughout the UK and Europe. Bronwyn is the recipient of Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council and Canada Council Grants for her work as an arts activist and performer. She currently runs R.A.D a private in-home daycare alternative free from gender bias with her gayby, Izry Blue. She is an aspiring writer with many hopes for print publication in the future. She writes at raising_gender.livejournal.com



3 Responses to Bronwyn Davies Glover on ‘PROVING’ GENDER

  1. Everett says:

    Fascinating. I’m trans and my queer partner and I are about to have our second child. We use pronouns for our first kid but have definitely been parenting against gender norms for his age. He plays with trucks and dolls, loves his kitchen set and purple picnic basket, loves play dough and blocks and my old Smurfs from the 80s. He’s got girl-valenced clothes and boy-valenced clothes and lots of gender ambiguous clothes, and he gets to pick what he wants to wear on any given day. Everything that parent said to you about your child, I see my child do every day, but which shouldn’t be possible according to her.

    One of the best lessons I think I can impart to my children is that yes, while there are expectations set on them by society, we ultimately can determine how we want to express ourselves on our own terms. Thanks for your thoughts, and happy parenting!

  2. Eve Eve says:

    Fascinating stuff, I’m a queer mom as well, and while we try a slightly less strident approach to subverting gender assumptions, I support your efforts. But I think being adoptive parents in a transracial family means there’s only so many conversations I am willing to take on as a parent, and your approach sounds exhausting to me.

    My approach has been more like this – when I have the extra minutes and feel safe to do so, when a stranger asks “boy or girl?” I say “well, he doesnt really have a gender identity yet, but he came with boy parts,” It answers their question, but also get the point across, if they’re open to hearing it – gender identity isn’t formed until a child is at least 2 or 3. Sometimes later. Nor, incidentally, is racial identity.

  3. Me says:

    I’ve started a facebook group for parents who are using they/them/their instead of he or she with their kids from the start. If you’d like to join, here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/133142967044978/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We love comments, feedback and critique but mean or snarky comments will not be published. MUTHA staff (of one) is away through June 27th - please leave your comments but moderation/posting may delayed. We'll be back soon!
 

Back to Top ↑