Mom, are they a boy or girl?

I am genderqueer.

That is a terrifying sentence for me to write.

I’m not tremendously out with my gender identity.

In part because it can be really hard to explain.  See, I’m not a girl, but I’m not a boy, but I believe gender is something that is entirely made up and based on what culture you’re in and. . .

Gender is a big and complicated thing to talk about.  I have a friend who is a sociologist who studies gender and we had a conversation the other night about how complicated it is to define gender.  And I think the more you know, the harder it is.

To keep it simple:  Gender = how you think about yourself.  Sex = biology.

This is super simplified.  If you want to go more in depth on gender identity and intersex people I would LOVE to have that conversation / help with research.

Basically gender is completely made up.  In sociology speak we say that gender is a social construct.  In essence, we as a society decide what it means to be male, or what it means to be female and in some cultures what it means to be something in between.
We all know how to define what makes a woman and what makes a man based on our societies definition. 

So what do you do when there is someone who doesn’t fit in either place?  What do you do with someone like me?  Especially when you have kids?

The hard thing with people who don’t identify as male or female is that these identities are very specific to the individual.

Example:  I prefer they/their/them as my pronouns.  SURPRISE!  I guarantee most of you didn’t know this because I honestly don’t care tremendously what pronouns are used because there are no right pronouns for me.  They/there is just as wrong for me as she/her is, so I don’t correct people.

I have friends who use they/their pronouns who are deeply hurt by other pronouns being used.

It depends on the person.

“Are you a boy or a girl?” is a question I get a lot.  Typically about once a week I am asked this by someone under the age of ten.  It is usually an innocent question.  Kids have a very black and white view of the world and I don’t fit.

There are kids who are convinced I am a boy because I have short hair.  There are kids who believe I am a girl because of my voice.  None of these kids are wrong.

So how do you talk about transgender and non-binary people with kids?

Of course it depends on the age of the kids.  And in some ways is simplified if you have a friend who is transitioning or gender non-conforming.

“Mason doesn’t feel like a girl or a boy.  They are kind of both at the same time.”

“When _____ was born the doctors said he was a boy, but _____ realized she is actually a girl and her name is ______”

I have a friend who has kids and a friend who transitioned and when she told them about the name change, her kids reply was “oh, cool” and they moved on with life.

“Some people get told they are boys, but on the inside they are girls.”

For most kids this will be sufficient information, but know the conversation will have to continue as the kids age and learn more.

And teach your kids that it’s ok to ask what pronouns people use.  If they can’t tell if someone is a woman or a man, they can just ask if they use boy words or girl words or other words.  

For real. Ask pronouns. It’s simple and non-offensive.

And feel free to send me any specific questions.

I want to be a resource.

Let’s have a conversation about gender.

It’s one of my favorite things to talk about.