Published on February 13th, 2014 | by Bronwyn Davies Glover3
Bronwyn Davies Glover on ‘PROVING’ GENDER
“I can prove your child’s gender!”
I look blankly at a woman’s excited expression as she sits herself down beside me.
“I can. I’ve figured it out. I see you at all the drop ins and now I know. Wanna know how? Your baby is a ___”
For an incredibly long time I have wanted to create a sort of blog or typing based place to store some of the fascinating experiences I have had, and am having, while parenting a tiny person to whom myself and my co-parent have not assigned gender.
Not gender neutral. Not gender free. Unassigned.
I wanted to begin writing when my tiny one was five hours old. The moment I looked down at their absurdly beautiful body all folded around my chest, eyes wide open, mouth held tightly in a small circle as if gasping with surprise and sudden wisdom and I felt my mind and body finally connect with the a truth I had theorised, analysed, discussed and worked to deconstruct for years. Gender does not exist.
My tiny is now 26 months old, a full growing toddler and the truth I felt when their whole head fit into my palm is still the same. Gender as assigned by biological genitalia does not exist.
Gender is many things in my eyes. Gender is play, agency, chosen identity, costume, glitter, character, colour, glamourous, fierce, changing, free, and completely empowered. Gender is as real or imagined as we decide. Assigning such a thing is absurd to me. And the idea that my tiny, 6 pounds in my arms, so new and alive, could be bombarded with colours and adjectives and directional language only moments after being born and introduced to their world, terrified me.
As a queer, white, feminist co-parenting with a trans partner and raising a tiny in a world full of racist, misogynist, ableist, heteronormative, transphobic, violent, patriarchal, classist portrayals of what boy and girl means, I felt it was only right for me not to do something that seemed so wrong.
This has not meant buying only yellow and green onesies and carefully selecting toys without long lashes and strollers or wheels and muscled arms. It has kind of meant the opposite. Doing everything as though my child were a boy/girl in the view of the world (with a radical, anti-oppressive approach). Very literally. Dolls with strollers and kitchen sets for making cupcakes. Hot pink unicorn onesies with leopard booties. Train sets with extensive magnetic wooden cars and dump trucks. Construction kits and baby hammers. Blue bookshelves and bright tutus with magic wands and a diva box for all the earrings, necklaces, tiaras, scarves, vests and hats.
And this was the first outright conversation a stranger had with me about my tiny upon learning we didn’t assign gender. Proving, red cheeks glowing with ‘I’m right, aren’t I?’ face, that no matter what I did, ‘true’ gender would still shine through. Because that, above all else, is how we are born.
“I can prove your child’s gender! I can. I’ve figured it out. I see you at all the drop ins and now I know. Wanna know how? Your baby is a girl!”
….. (Blank face)
“I figured it out and I’ll tell you how. Your baby is girl. She listens extremely well when you speak. She always checks in with you with her eyes when she starts to crawl away. She’s 6 months? Exactly. She is so empathetic to other children. When other babies cry, I’ve seen her look sad. And at music circle, she watches and pays attention the whole time! Little boys, I know, are already rolling and pushing. They don’t have the intellectual interest or human connection that your baby has. She shows you her love. Trust me, boys are all over the map with no awareness for others. The opposite actually. And they aren’t alert like she is. She’s a girl. I know it.”
But she sure proved the reason why I chose to raise my tiny without assigning anything but their name – and even that is up for discussion if they ever want to change it.