I was absolutely fine with keeping the sex of our baby a surprise. Really, I was. But then something happened to me around 22 weeks. I suddenly had a deep desire to know exactly what sort of babe was moving around in there. I felt detached and found it strange to say "the baby kicked me" and "do you want to feel the baby?" I needed a pronoun. More than that, I wanted a name. (We had a short list of lovely girl names to choose from, but absolutely no boy names. Which of course meant that we were definitely having a boy. In my head at least.)
This is Offbeat Families's archive of gender posts.
I have a hard time explaining to non-transgender people how I knew I was male from the start; I just did. I sometimes ask them, "How do you know you're male or female?" Often, they go quiet and look stumped, because they can't answer it either. Most people seem to just know, right? You can't pinpoint what makes you feel that way or when exactly you realized it, can you? You likely always just knew.
I think my solution is to refrain from assumptions altogether when I'm in public. I'll stop playing along with other's comments about her getting married one day, or meeting a man, or whatever. At home, I'll adopt new words into my vernacular with her. I'll illustrate differences through play — I can show her two girl Barbies kissing and two Ken dolls kissing.
It started when my son decided he wanted cupcakes. I figured we'd make cupcakes and take them to work for our friends. I gave him one of my aprons but it was too big. The next week at the local farmer's market I spied homemade kid-sized aprons. They had some robots and some flowers, but what really caught my eye was, of course, a Dora apron. It is bright pink and lacy but whatever — that's not something that would register for Isaac.
If you've heard of gender reveal parties, you probably know how they go — people usually use colored cake or balloons to reveal the sex of their baby to family and friends. When it came to our own baby, I wasn't as interested in having an actual party as much as I wanted a fun way to find out the news. That's right — we had our party without even knowing ahead of time if we were having a boy or a girl!
I don't want to raise my daughter thinking that this is what it means to be a lady — that the prevailing pink culture is what defines femininity. I want her to know it's okay to get muddy, that it's alright to wear Mutant Ninja Turtle shoes if she wants because these things won't make her any less a girl.
My kids, nearly two and four, love to be read to and I love to read to them as long as the books are lyrically written and creatively illustrated — and they don't encourage harming animals (original Curious George, anyone?), or feature name-calling or cranky parents (too many to list).
We spend a lot of time talking about empowering girls to break gender barriers. Which is important — we should. And there is plenty more work to do in that arena. But now I have a boy to raise. And if he wants to play dress-up instead of hockey, or wear his hair long or short, or become a fashion designer or watch HGTV instead of judge shows (fingers crossed), or if he likes girls or boys or nobody at all, I want him to know that it's OK.