Parents In Florida Decide To Raise Non-Binary 'Theyby'
Jun 10, 2021 by apost team
People are more accepting of young adults who don’t fit into the gender binary of male and female. For example, mainstream recording artist Demi Lovato came out as nonbinary in May 2021, changing their pronouns from she/her to they/them. This just goes to show that in the past ten years, the queer community has made a lot of headway when it comes to issues of gender and sexuality. These public conversations and breakthroughs have also changed how some are approaching parenting.
One Florida couple — Ari Dennis and her partner — made headlines in 2019 after announcing that they would raise their baby gender-neutral, referring to their child as a “theyby,” which combines the gender-neutral pronoun “they” with “baby.”
Ari and her partner named their baby, who is now 3 years old, Sparrow, giving the child the option to choose their gender when they are older. That means that this family is completely eschewing the gender binary, which is an everyday part of most children's lives. In a more traditional household, boys might learn to play with action figures while girls learn to play with dolls and love the color pink.
But Ari and her partner have opted to let Sparrow determine their own gender at a later date. That’s exactly what happened with their other child, Hazel, who came to terms with their gender at around 4 years old. While Hazel has long hair and identifies as part girl, they use gender-neutral pronouns at home and at school. Regardless of whether you disagree with Ari and her partner’s choice to leave their children’s gender more open, it’s clear that more and more families are beginning to raise “theybies.”
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If you look at any toy aisle in a store, you will see that there are still many examples of gender norms surrounding us. Some people are trying to combat these norms. Ari Dennis is one of those people. Ari decided to leave the space on the birth certificate “unknown” after having her baby, according to WTSP, a local news station.
Sparrow is the child in this story who will choose how to identify when they are older. Sparrow has an older sibling named Hazel, who is 10 years old. While Hazel was not raised as a “theyby,” they say that they are a “demigirl.” This means they identify as part girl.
Hazel wants everyone to use more neutral pronouns when it comes to their gender, such as "they" and "them.” Hazel told the news outlet that their classmates do get confused at times, but that they are usually pretty respectful of their choice. They said that while they usually do say "she" and "her" in regards to their gender, they are not doing it to be mean.
There is currently a closed Facebook group called “Parenting Theybies” with over 600 members at the time of publication. It is a group that is dedicated to raising their children in the same manner as Ari. Many of the group members are interested in raising their children to be genderless. They do not wish to impose any type of gender on their children.
Of course, Ari has been on the end of a lot of criticism regarding her choice to raise Sparrow genderless.
Many people worry that Sparrow will grow up and be confused about who they are. But Ari believes that the baby will know who they are when the time comes. She believes that her child will be able to make that choice much easier than many people believe.
"There's no way this can go wrong," Ari told WTSP. "People will be like 'Oh the child will be confused!' No. If gender is something in you, no one's going to change that."
While raising a baby to choose their own gender is still not the norm, more and more parents are considering making this choice when they have their own children. It is a trend we may be seeing more of soon.
In an interview with NBC News, Dr. John Steever, an assistant professor of pediatrics in New York, said he’s a proponent of gender-open parenting. The benefits of leaving your child to decide their gender at a later date lets them know that they will be accepted regardless of their identity, which might be especially important for transgender children.
“When a child is told their entire life, ‘You are a boy, you are going to grow up to be a man, you are going to like women, you are going to be a father…,’ when they start to feel, at a young age, or maybe in their adolescence that isn't right, that doesn't fit me,” Steever explained, “that creates that gender dysphoria.”
With that said, NBC News points out that there isn’t much research on parents who raise their children as theybies, though individual reports seem to suggest that children discover their own gender at around age 4.
What do you think of her choice? We welcome your input and would love to see what your friends think about this as well!