Nonbinary Person Explains How To Talk To Kids About Gender

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Gender can be a difficult topic to discuss with your kids, but one nonbinary person has given parents all the right tools to use when approaching the subject…

Long gone are the days where there are simply “men” and “women”. It’s 2019, and there are hundreds of different ways in which a person can identify… And non-binary is certainly one of the most common.

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, “non-binary” is the term people use to describe genders that don’t fall into the 2 categories of male or female.

But, of course, there are several people out there who can’t bear the idea of a person identifying as something outside of the “normal” genders.

Like most who are uneducated on the topic, many people sit behind their keyboards and send abusive messages to those who identify as non-binary… for reasons completely unbeknown to most.

And some think the best way to address the issue is by teaching kids from an early age all about gender. And one non-binary person has given us the tools to talk to our kids all about it…

We all know kids ask a lot of questions when they’re trying to figure things out, and it’s important not to silence them or pretend we know all the answers.

Especially when it comes to topics such as gender, when you stop a child from asking questions and shushing them, you’re automatically teaching them that the topic is wrong.

Although it might be tricky at first, one gender-neutral person has given us some tips about how to start the conversation…

“This first assumption of gender is like the flick of a domino—when one is hit, all the surrounding pieces that create the line fall too. In this case, gender is the structure, and all of the stereotypes and expectations of gender roles and gender expression are the dominos that fall and can be the collapse of one’s true identity.”

“Both sex and gender are fluid. Knowing this can help us view sex and gender as more of a pendulum or a wave instead of predetermined answers leading to only one conclusion.”

“Some transgender folks don’t identify as male or female but instead, feel a mix of both or neither genders. We shouldn’t be expected to fit into the confines of a binary, male and female world and be restricted to gendered pronouns like ‘he’ and ‘him’ or ‘she’ and ‘her.'”

Such as “Gender fluid, agender, and genderqueer, but each person’s experience is unique, so it’s best not to apply labels one hasn’t given us permission to use. Personally, I was assigned female at birth, but my identity does not fit into the binary of being male or female. I am nonbinary and I use ‘they’ and ‘them’ pronouns.”

“Clothing lines, toymakers, and stores are rebranding their spaces to be more inclusive. We are teaching our daughters that strong and smart are achievable and desirable qualities. We are teaching our sons that talking about and working through emotions are less toxic solutions than violence and hiding mental illness.”

“Having meaningful conversations with kids is part of catching up to an increasingly diverse America.”

“A century ago women in the United States generally weren’t permitted to wear pants, accessing higher education was rare, and they were still months from having the right to vote.” Iverson also addresses that Native American cultures have always seen gender as fluid.

“Use thoughtful and gender-neutral language, such as ‘they’ and ‘them’ pronouns, to let your child know that until a person self identifies, you can’t be sure.” Iverson suggests responding saying, “We don’t always know just by looking at someone how they feel inside, but what makes you curious about it right now?”

“Because there is rarely a gender-neutral option when I am out in public, I choose to use the women’s bathroom. Recently I was in a stall and heard a child ask her adult if I was in the right bathroom. I present as masculine and when I walked in, this child assumed that I was a boy in a girl’s bathroom. I tensed; I have been in too many situations where a parent gets the answer wrong. But in this case, the mom responded well: ‘I know we are in the right spot, and I am going to trust that that person knows they are in the right spot too.'”

“If I hadn’t been on the toilet I would have thanked her, but using gendered bathrooms is exhausting, and talking to a stranger in that position felt like too much. I wished all parents could be so clear and affirming. It’s not the kids who struggle to adapt and accept. Parents fall into assumptions based on years of biases and learned constructs about gender and gender expression. But if parents could step back and observe themselves, they would realize they are already having similar conversations with their kids. We tell our kids that any person can use a particular color, work in any profession, and wear any clothing that makes them feel good. Gender identity can be explained in the same way.”

Iverson highlights the importance of safety and that safety and comfort are two separate things. “The bathroom is a great example of this. People are used to bathrooms being divided into gendered options of male or female, but those spaces become unsafe for gender nonconforming, transgender, and nonbinary people when others begin to police where they think we should pee.”

“Nonbinary people need to be able to go to the bathroom that makes sense for them to be safe and healthy. Others might be uncomfortable for a while as we transition to something new, but discomfort is something that we can handle while we get used to ways of doing things that are safer and healthier for all, instead of leaving out some.”

Children can understand complex situations…

Casey Brown came out as nonbinary when their daughter was six and mentions that their child didn’t get gender or identity at the time, admitting that explaining nonbinary was a little difficult. To help their daughter understand, Brown wrote down gendered and neutral words. Their daughter understood that the word “girl” felt good for her and that the more neutral terms felt better for her parent.

Although she often corrects people as she wants her parents to feel comfortable for who they are.

“If someone asks me, ‘Is that your dad?’ I say ‘Yup! That’s my parent!’ or if they ask if that’s my mom, I say, ‘Yup that’s my parent!’ So I’m correcting them without it being weird,” she says. “It makes me feel really good when my friends and teachers get it right though, because I don’t even think of [my parent] as trans; they’re just my parent and this is how our family works. We are just a regular family.”

And it’s ok to get things wrong while you’re trying to understand.

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