Gender Neutral Parenting

Recently, The Guardian UK published an article highlighting the case of a transgender parent opting to mark their baby’s sex as “U”—signifying it was undisclosed or unidentified. Putting aside the fact that sex is determined and differs from gender, which is not necessarily sex–dependent, we can see the point this couple is trying to make:

Why should a child’s sex necessarily dictate his or her gender and personal preferences?

I can’t claim to have given deep thought to the possibility that my child might throw in her lot with the LGBT crowd (aside from knowing that it wouldn’t bother me a bit), but I have already made a conscious effort to practice gender neutral parenting. Her room is a blue-green, her first stuffed animal is a tiger shark, the color pink is minimally present, and while she does have a few dresses, she also has several dinosaur and motorcycle onesies.

If she goes ape for frilly dresses and doll sets, I won’t deny her those things (though I might gag a little). But I’m certainly not going to make the assumption that that’s her preference before she’s even taken her first breath in this world. I’m not simply avoiding putting her in a conscribed gender box, I’m adamant that no one else does either.

The accepted division between genders disturbs me. Take the children’s clothing department as an example: a garish divide between Navy Boy Blue and Barbie Sparkle Pink. This might explain why the adult hipster trends of today are so confusing (gay, bi, or just stylish? I can’t tell). And may even have something to do with why I’m not always sure who on the street is a prostitute and who is just keeping on top of the latest fad (The Disney Princess Promise having failed to deliver, she decided at the age of 19 to try a more direct tactic).

Why is it so important to me to not buy into the gender game?

I want my child to decide for herself who she is and what she likes, not feel pressured to be like everyone else.

The expectation to mold oneself to social norms begins at Day One. If I can give her a variety of choices—the full spectrum of color preferences, cooking and carpentry classes—and let her decide what she likes best, perhaps she’ll be independent and self–aware enough to stand up to the peer pressure of her teenage years. Maybe I can even save her some years of confused wandering trying to find herself. 

Blanketing my child with my own expectations and assumptions about her personality and preferences would only hinder her confidence. Refusing to bow to gender roles seems to me to be the very first thing I can offer to help her realize freedom and confidence.

What are your thoughts on gender neutral parenting? Leave a comment below. 


  4 comments for “Gender Neutral Parenting

  1. Pamela Osgood
    July 17, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    I think is is a challenge to raise a child gender neutral and I really applaud you in trying to do it. I heard of a mom who changed her baby’s appearance on a regular basis, color of clothes, ribbon in the hair, etc and people would respond very differently to her baby. Examples: “Oh how beautiful she is. Oh how strong he looks. He looks so bright, so intelligent, with those long legs he’ll definitely be a good athlete”…..etc. The question is, how do you keep the community from treating your child differently? And how do you keep your little one from wanting those stupid Barbie dolls when she sees the other kids with them? More power to you, Rachel.

  2. July 17, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    I feel your intention. I also intentionally worked on understanding gender roles at university when I studied early childhood. Pretty sure our stance on the topic would be very similar. I hate steroptypes…the debates over nature vs nurture, pink vs blue, dolls vs trucks. In the end I discovered (much to my surprise…as I thought my parenting input would be so much more substantial to the result) that my son came completely with his own agenda. I did not need to wrap my head around the possibilities so much, my son had total clarity to what he was drawn to doing with his time, his preferences obvious. Somewhere I think I decided that nature wins…cause he came as complete package of obvious likes and dislikes…from very early on. I was a tomb boy as a kid, so found it easy to adapt to his needs. He liked mathematics, constructions in any form and art, which I thought was a nice balance.

    Be exciting to discover what you little one likes…so looking forward to meeting her one day…more then happy to be her auntie no matter what she digs! Lol

    Muchos hugs x

  3. Rachel Glueck
    July 18, 2017 at 12:51 am

    Well, I don’t intend to be super hardcore about it. If she’s really into Barbies…oh, god. I’ll try to at least sway her to another type of doll. If she’s super into pink, frilly dresses, then she can wear pink, frilly dresses. As long as she doesn’t act like a spoiled princess. I just think it should come from her, not from me. Fortunately, we live in a community where kids run around barefoot and play outdoors a lot. Sure, girls have their girly toys, but it’s not a town where every child is vying for the hot new toy.

  4. Linda Martin
    July 21, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    I commend you on your thoughtfulness on this subject. As Nikki in previous post said, some kids come with all the stereotypical preferences. Don’t be disappointed if your little girl Loves PInk and Purple when she is about 4 or 5. You are in a different culture which may relieve some of the pressures kids experience here….tv blathering constant images etc. You may have had some of the standard preferences for a girl child as you were growing up but with your mum being who she is I think there may have been some mitigation. Point being, you turned out just grand. as long as you and Noel are loving, accepting, generous-minded and relaxed, parenting will be easier and still more difficult than anything else that is a lifelong project. Que tienes suerte!

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